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Utah State hoops picked to finish 3rd in Mountain West

By Ryan Miller, | Posted - Nov. 11, 2020 at 11:40 a.m.

LOGAN — Despite losing all-league guard Sam Merrill, Utah State is still expected to be among the best in the Mountain West.

The Aggies were picked to finish third in the annual Mountain West Conference preseason media poll, the league announced Wednesday to begin its virtual rmedia days event. Junior center Neemias Queta was selected to the All-MWC preseason team.

San Diego State, which won the regular season championship last season, was picked to win the league, receiving 14 of the 20 first place votes. Boise State was picked to finish second with four first-place votes. The Aggies were picked to win the league by two members of the media.

In Craig Smith's second season, Utah State finished tied for second in the conference along with Nevada and UNLV with a 12-6 league record (the Aggies were 26-8 overall). San Diego State rolled to the regular season-championship with a 17-1 league record, but was bested by Utah State in the conference tournament championship game, giving the Aggies their second straight conference tournament crown.

Queta, the 2019 Mountain West freshman and defensive player of the year, is fully healthy coming into the 2020-21 campaign after his sophomore season was hampered by a knee injury he sustained in international play. Despite missing 12 games and being limited in others, Queta averaged 13.0 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.

While the Aggies get a healthy Queta back, the Aggies will have to replace Merrill, the 2019 MWC player of the year and two-time league tournament MVP.

Utah State returns two other starters from last year's squad: third-team all-conference forward Justin Bean, who averaged 11.9 points and 10.5 rebounds per game last season, and junior wing Brock Miller.

The Aggies will reportedly begin their season at the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic against Wichita State on Nov. 25.

Boise State senior Derrick Alston, Jr. was selected Mountain West preseason player of the year, coming off a junior season that he averaged 17.3 points and 3.1 assists. He is joined on the All-MWC preseason team by Queta, Colorado State's Isaiah Stevens, San Diego State's Matt Mitchell and UNLV's Bryce Hamilton.

Aggies add Cedar's Dallin Grant

Utah State announced Wednesday that Dallin Grant, a 6-foot-8 wing out of Cedar High School, has signed with the team.

Grant was a second-team all-state selection during his junior year as he led the Red. During his high school career, Grant is averaging more than 15 points, nine rebounds and two assists and shooting north of 57%.

"Dallin makes an impact on the game with his ability to handle the ball, shoot with range and rebound at a high level. His style of play will be a great fit for our program," Smith said.

Ryan Miller

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