A few years ago I kept an online diary or journal or sorts as a way to put out thoughts in a stream of consciousness format. I’m no journalist, and don’t claim to be. This format fits the way I think much better and lets me just write my thoughts as they come to me. It also makes it very easy to go back and see what I was right about and what I was wrong about. With that, lets get to it.
Roster outlook as of 4/30
The team has a weird look right now. While I think Diabate was a good pickup overall, he doesn’t fill the team’s need for a wing. Even if he develops some stretch 4 ability, he’s still not a wing. The way the roster is currently constructed, there are 5 players who are best suited to play guard. Pulliam, Butler, Seiko, Dinwiddie, and Bradley. There are another 6 players who will likely be best suited to play one of the two big spots. Mensah, Tomaić, Diabate, Arop, K. Johnson, and D. Johnson. Coming out of high school Evans looked like a wing, but there’s no way to know for sure since he played so sparingly as a freshman.
So with the way the roster is currently constructed, the team will have to play some players out of their best position. Bradley has the strength and skill to play as a small forward, but won’t be able to bully players as much. He seems like the favorite this early in the off-season.
Keshad has the athleticism, but hasn’t shown the skill set yet. He will have an actual full off-season to work on his game though, as opposed to last year when everything was shut down. That full off-season could really help his progression, and coaches and fans alike are expecting a big jump from him. If he develops his skill set enough he could bump Bradley to a more natural shooting guard spot.
Lastly there’s Che Evans. Che didn’t get a lot of chances to show what he could do last season. He ended up being the last scholarship player on the depth chart. It was mildly surprising for a player who was one of the best young players in the country about 5 years ago. It should be remembered though, that he missed basically his entire senior year of high school with injury. We often see players return when they’re physically ready to return, but they still don’t look like themselves. There’s a mental aspect that has to be overcome. This is total speculation, but there is a chance that Evans was still dealing with his injuries in one way or another last season, and that this season he’ll be more ready and will take a big jump. It’s not that far fetched. Mountain West fans saw it recently with Utah State forward Neemias Queta. He had a bad leg injury and missed time, but even when he came back he wasn’t as dominant as he had been before. Then, with another off-season between him and his injury, he returned to honorable mention all American status. Che and his camp often post videos of him working out, so work ethic isn’t an issue. There’s definitely a non-zero chance that his previous injuries were still holding him back, and that should be a sign of optimism for Aztec fans.
Edit: After I wrote this, Che’s camp posted this tweet, more or less confirming that Che was dealing with injuries in some way last season.
All that being said, people who generally know about these types of things are telling me the Aztecs are still looking for a wing on the transfer market. They usually like to save the last scholarship and it ends up not getting used, but it seems they are in fact still looking. One name that popped up recently is Jordan Hall from St. Joseph’s.
It isn’t entirely clear whether the “SD State” mentioned is San Diego State or South Dakota State. It’s fair to note though that all the Aztec coaches are following Hall on twitter. The possibility of landing Hall is exciting. He was on the all freshman A-10 team last season after averaging 10/6/6. At 6’8”, 215 lbs he has great size, he is comfortable in the pick and roll, is a great passer (90th percentile offensively when including scoring and passing), and hit 35% of his 3’s last season on almost 100 attempts. His ability to play many roles and multiple positions would give coach Dutcher and staff even more lineup flexibility to match any type of situation. He addresses 3 of the 4 off-season needs I listed in previous articles (playmaking, shooting, size.) Plus, I personally am a sucker for big tall guys who can create for others, due to the matchup problems they tend to pose. On paper Hall reminds me of Winston Shepard, but more skilled offensively. Fingers crossed he gives the Aztecs some serious consideration.