Key Losses: C Chris Manker (6.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg), F Chris Walton (6.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg)
San Diego, CA/Transfer from Florida
Louisville, CO/Redshirt 2004-05
Santa Monica, CA/ Redshirt 2004-05
Newark, CA/Newark Memorial
Las Vegas, NV/Bishop Gorman
Spring Valley, CA/Steele Canyon
To order your 2005 Athlon Sports annual and receive $1 off plus free shipping courtesy of SI.com, click here.
San Diego State hired Steve Fisher in 1999 hoping the former Michigan coach would eventually accomplish something that would allow the perennial downtrodden program to receive unprecedented national publicity.
That finally occurred last season, but hardly in the fashion anyone anticipated. The Aztecs were the lead national sports story all right, but it was for suffering a collapse of epic proportions. A 10-point lead with 28.5 seconds to play vanished and turned into a bitter overtime loss to UNLV. The fallout included a national columnist calling Fisher a "noted non-tactician" and derisively referring to him as "Fab Five Fish," furthering the perception it was strictly the talent that was responsible for Michigan's impressive win-loss records.
So if having better players is truly the key for Fisher, then now is the time for San Diego State to enjoy a big season. The Aztecs have a watered-down schedule and feature two of the Mountain West Conference's best players in forward Marcus Slaughter and guard Brandon Heath. Both players were second-team all-conference picks as sophomores.
Slaughter applied for the NBA Draft and later withdrew his name. He averaged 17.8 points and 9.0 rebounds. He should be more confident after spending the spring playing against elite college players and NBA Draft picks. Heath led the Aztecs in scoring (18.3), assists (3.7) and steals (2.2). He's one of the fastest players in the conference and is virtually unstoppable some nights, but he's also prone to shooting droughts and shot just 40.7 percent from the field.
The Aztecs never had a valid third scoring option last season. They're hoping forward Mohamed Abukar, a transfer from Florida, will be up to the task once he becomes eligible in mid-December. Abukar is the top talent among a five-person crop of newcomers.
It will be up to senior center Mohamed Camara to provide a physical presence inside on defense. Camara started 21 games last season but is limited offensively.
Energetic senior Trimaine Davis also will play a role. Davis was temporarily paralyzed at age 15 after being hit by a car and had to learn how to walk again.
In the backcourt, sophomore point guard Matt Thomas was semi-productive last season and could eventually become the floor leader. Senior guard John Sharper can pop the 3-pointer and is one of the top defensive guards in the conference.