The Lobos, entering Paul Weir’s fourth season as head coach and coming off a 19-14 campaign that included going 7-11 in MWC play, received 106 points in the poll with no players earning preseason accolades.
EDITOR’S NOTE: See full predicted order of finish and player picks at bottom of article.
Most of the league has rosters full of newcomers, and the Lobos are no different. UNM has one returning regular starter in Makuach Maluach, three returning regulars on scholarship in Keith McGee, Emmanuel Kuac and Kurt Wegscheider and two returning walk-ons in Jordan Arroyo and Clay Patterson.
Defending MWC regular season champion San Diego State was picked to repeat as champion, earning 14 of a possible 20 first place votes to go along with senior forward Matt Mitchell being tabbed a preseason all-conference pick.
Boise State was picked second, snagging four first place votes and is armed with a roster full of highly touted transfers joining forces with the return of preseason Player of the Year Derrick Alston Jr., who tested the NBA Draft waters before deciding to return for the Broncos.
Utah State hauled in the final two first place votes and return all-league pick Neemias Queta at center while UNLV was picked fourth and had the most representation in the preseason player awards with guard Bryce Hamilton being selected to the all-conference team, South Dakota transfer guard David Jenkins Jr. named Newcomer of the Year, and forward Nick Blake picked as Freshman of the Year.
The final all-league selection went to last season’s Freshman of the Year, point guard Isaiah Stevens of Colorado State, which was picked fifth.
Nevada was picked sixth in the second season under former Lobos coaches Steve Alford, the Wolf Pack’s head coach, and Craig Neal, the team’s associate head coach. Nipping at their heels just eight points back (114-106) was UNM at No. 7.
The poll was rounded out by No. 8 Fresno State, No. 9 Wyoming and first year head coach Jeff Linder, Air Force at No. 10 under the return of head coach Joe Scott and No. 11 San Jose State.
2020-21 Preseason MWC Media Poll
(Rank, team, firs place votes in parenthesis and total points.)
1. San Diego State (14) — 211
2. Boise State (4) — 188
3. Utah State (2) — 177
4. UNLV — 160
5. Colorado State — 141
6. Nevada — 114
7. New Mexico — 106
8. Fresno State — 93
9. Wyoming — 59
10. Air Force — 39
11. San José State — 32
Preseason All-MWC Player Picks
All-Mountain West Team
• PG Isaiah Stevens, So., Colorado State
• G Derrick Alston Jr., Sr., Boise State
• G/F Bryce Hamilton, Jr., ULV
• F Matt Mitchell, Sr., San Diego State
• C Neemias Queta, Jr., Utah State
• PLAYER OF YEAR: Derrick Alston Jr., Boise State
• NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: David Jenkins Jr., UNLV
• FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Nick Blake, UNLV