Five underrated players to watch in the Mountain West Conference

K.J. Hymes – Nevada

It’s a rebuild for coach Steve Alford and the Wolfpack are losing Jalen Harris (Draft), Jazz Johnson (Graduation), Lindsay Drew (Graduation) their three best players are now gone. Hymes is a 6’10 center who went to Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix which a lot of big-name players have played, he red-shirted his True Freshman season in 2018-19, with guys like Trey Porter, Treshawn Thurman, and Jordan Brown down low but was good as a freshman, now Hymes will pick up a bigger role. He had a 3-star ranking out of high school and held offers from Virginia, Georgia Tech, Memphis, Clemson, and Colorado just to name a few. If he can live up to his talent down low this Nevada team could compete near the top of the Mountain West standings.

Jordan Schakel – San Diego State

After a historic season from San Diego State, the one name you rarely heard even though he was vital to the team’s success was Jordan Schakel. Replacing Malachi Flynn and Yanni Wetzell is a tough task, but that just means a more significant role will be in store for Schakel this season. He is one of the better shooters in the country, he shot an astounding 43% from three, along with 92% from-the-line. With Matt Mitchell now being the focal point for SDSU this season, Schakel will need to step into the role of a secondary scorer. Schakel isn’t a liability on defense either, by no means great but definitely can defend a bit while being able to be versatile enough to guard shooting guards, and wings. Brian Dutcher will need Schakel this season if there’s any chance of reaching the Big Dance.

RayJ DennisBoise State

The soon to be sophomore guard, RayJ Dennis had a subpar Freshman Season, averaging 4 points per game, while he shot 35% from the field and 26% from deep. That will need to be improved upon as simple as that, which needs to be better from someone due to being the Starting Point Guard for a potential NCAA Tournament level team. Dennis showed flashes last season as their late huge comeback against Utah State, he was the leader of that comeback he had 19 points and went 4-4 from deep. While there’s a fair amount of depth with an incoming transfer, Devonaire Doutrive, Marcus Shaver now being eligible for the program this season, Dennis is slipping beneath the cracks of the public eye. The main focal point of the team is Derrick Alston Jr without a doubt, but Dennis will likely start and run the vast majority of the offense this season for Leon Rice’s squad in 2020-21. If the flashes Dennis showed are indicative of what he can do consistently things are looking up.

Marco Anthony – Utah State

The story on Marco Anthony is an intriguing one, a National Champion with Virginia but only played sparingly. He opted to transfer follow that season to Utah State, sat in 2019-20, and is ready to take on the roles left behind by Guards, Sam Merrill and Abel Porter, who are no longer with the program. Craig Smith’s front-court may be one of the best in the country, with Neemias Queta, and Justin Bean. Two top-tier defenders and an efficient scorer down-low. It’ll be a tough task for any team in the MWC to defend those two, but who can get them the ball? It has to be Anthony. He’ll be given the chances to take a big jump for the Aggies this season and it will be needed due to the lack of guard depth. If Anthony takes that jump, the Aggies may just win the MWC once more.

Kenny FosterWyoming

Everyone’s favorite story for a week during early March was the Wyoming Cowboys winning two MWC tournament games after being terrible all season and they played Utah State down to the wire. Hunter Maldanado will continue to be the main piece of this team and they lose their main 3-point specialist in Jake Hendricks. With losing Hendricks the sophomore Kenny Foster should step into that role, he had 4 points per game and only shot 24% from three, but the ability is certainly there he had 18 against Utah State with 5 three-pointers and he showcased his sweet shot and that should help him develop into a 10 point, 34+ Percent from three type player. Hunter Maldonado without a doubt will still carry the brunt of the shots for the Cowboys this season, but Foster can without a doubt take a jump this season that makes the Cowboys a somewhat formidable squad.

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