“Aztecs Basketball-Halfway Home-Midseason Grades”
They are (15-0) in a season of surprises.
They are rated 7th in the nation in the AP Poll.
They could conceivably be unbeaten by the time the Mountain West Conference post season tourney opens.
A Mid-season report card on the Aztecs:
BRIAN DUTCHER…No one expected this, not even him. So many new parts to add to a thinned out roster, but this team has come together. Strong floor leadership, a bunch of guys who can shoot threes, rim protectors in the big man department, a deep bench to play lots of roles, and defense, always defense. He distributes minutes and job responsibility based on the opponent. Grade (A)
MALACHI FLYNN….Sitting out a year after the Washington State transfer, allowed him to polish his shooting game. His last season with the Cougars was poor in terms of shooting. Now he makes plays, drives to the hoop, can stroke it outside, and hit threes too. A complete player, and maybe a surprise at how fast he has produced…Grade (A)
MATT MITCHELL…The old dog of the group, is a very different player now. Trimmed down, looks like he has taken over 20-pounds, but is still physically tough to handle down inside, when he has the ball and goes for the fall on defense. Can play rough house defender and muscleman, and not afraid to take fouls. Real unsung hero. Does not always pile up stats, but does so many intangible things. Grade (A) for all his roles.
YANNI WETZEL…Vanderbilt transfer can score, can play down on the block and always seems to be in motion somewhere doing something. Still think there is something coming from him on offense, where some nights hot, others not. Athletic for as big as he is. Grade (B)
KJ FEAGIN…A real warrior in the backcourt with his defense first personality. Always in your face. Can score, really can defend. One of reasons opponents are turning the ball over 15-times a game and shooting just 36% from the floor. In final year of basketball, making a huge difference. Grade (A)
NATHAN MENSAH…Huge upgrade in his offensive skill set, now active at both ends of the floor. Always in traffic rejecting shots, grabbing rebounds on both offense and defense. Not intimidated by this level or job he must do each night. Real student of game. Learned to bang and leap. Just think about his growth from last year to now, and where he might be by next year. Grade (B)
JORDAN SCHAKEL….Started year with a flurry of threes, though have not seen as many lately. Gifted athlete who can run floor and is playing with much more confidence. Still room to grow and groom going forward. Grade (B)
TREY PULLIAM…Expected more earlier from him since he played so much in Texas JUCO ranks, but has been lost in numbers game in backcourt. Could still make an impact before this is all done. Grade (C) only because of limited playing time.
JOEL MENSAH…Growing into valuable short minutes guy and will be needed coming off bench as tourney time approaches. Only scratched surface of offensive skills. Really young player. Grade (C)
ADAM SEIKO…There is a skill set there, but yet to show it because of limited playing time. Still has two more years eligibility left. Grade (C)
AGUEK AROP…Injuries have hampered him, and yet to show the street tough form he showed second half of last season. Part of Dutcher’s ‘bench bunch’-we need this done-go go it. Really physical warrior guy playing with bigs. Still to be heard from this year. Grade (C)
NOLAN NARAIN…Looks the part, but illness and injuries have really derailed him. Career did not pan out after what appeared to be promising start. Grade (C)
KESHAD JOHNSON….Future begins next year. Sit-learn-practice and get ready to play next season. Reminds me of explosiveness of Jalen McDaniels and other past Aztecs bigs. Not ready for prime-time and no need to rush with all the talent infront of him. Grade (D) only because this is really a red-shirt type season.
Team Grade Point (3.0)