Tonight the Aztecs begin their 2022-2023 season with an exhibition against San Diego Christian at Viejas Arena. We took a brief look at the season as a whole yesterday and hopefully got you a little familiar with who is who on the squad. With such a deeply talented and experienced team this year, playing time will be a highly contested achievement between all the guys.
One of the most speculative times of each basketball season is the fun everyone has in predicting who they think will be the all important starting 5 will be. Whether it’s just an educated guess or chance to think you know better than the coaches, the large majority of fans are drawn to this conversation like fly’s on … well, we won’t go there.
Though tonight’s exhibition may not be the same lineups and rotations as we may see in the actual season, we wanted to get in on the fun, but also breakdown a bit of each player on this talented roster.
So here is my SDSU Aztecs Men’s Basketball Projected Starting Five
PF- K. Johnson
One of the biggest reasons Trammell was brought in this season was because the Aztecs lacked a point guard with ball skills who could not only run the pick and roll offense but also break a press and close out games by drawing fouls and hitting free throws. This achilles heal doomed the Aztecs vs. Creighton.
Trammell’s performance against UCLA in the two teams pre-season closed door scrimmage, bodes well that the offense is in good hands when he has the ball. Sons of Montezuma got a chance to see him up close at the San Diego Swish Pro Am this summer and he didn’t disappoint.
Lamont Butler spent all summer in the lab working with his trainer and it appears that he is poised for a breakout season now that he has fully recovered from a wrist injury that slowed his development last season. Between Trammell and Butler, opposing guards are going to have fits trying to bring the ball up the court.
Bradley should play more loose this year knowing that he doesn’t have to shoulder the offensive burden alone each night anymore. With the addition of players like Trammell, a healthy Butler and LeDee, we should be able to see more of a team game most of the time.
Keshad worked really hard over the offseason with his trainer on his 3-point shooting. If he can stretch the floor at the 4 position and consistently knock down outside shots, his defender won’t be able to provide defensive help on open Aztecs cutting toward the basket.
“Showtime” will continue to amaze the Viejas crowd with his high flying acrobatics, while also serving as a lockdown defender on the opponent’s best forward.
Mensah was encouraged to return to college to work on his post moves, decisiveness with the ball, and to improve his shooting range. A lot to ask of the big man coming into his final year on the Mesa. But again, his primary role will continue to be the defensive eraser in the middle that opponents will have a tough time scoring over.
LeDee instantly upgrades the Aztecs in terms of rebounding. SDSU should out-rebound the majority of their opponents with him on the floor. The hope is that in addition to crashing the boards, LeDee will be able to play as a stretch 4 or 5 who can knock down 3 point and mid range shots. He is definitely an X factor in times when K.Johnson or Mensah may take a breath or be in foul trouble—one thing we hope doesn’t happen often this season.
Seiko returns on his final season of eligibility and brings a ton of experience and maturity. Even on this talented deep roster he will assume his vital role of being a 3&D guard who can knock it down from the perimeter consistently and lock it down on defense.
Parrish is a key replacement for Chad Baker-Mazara who was dismissed from the team this summer. Parrish is a versatile wing who showed tremendous range in the Swish Pro-Am this summer knocking down shots from beyond NBA range.
What makes Parrish such an asset is that he can also handle the ball on the perimeter and distribute to teammates all while playing stingy defense. But it shouldn’t stop there—he also has a bag of post up moves that he can use when matched up on smaller players.
Having this kind of defensive lock down ability at coach Dutcher’s disposal is a luxury. But it also comes with risks. Due to the team’s depth, Arop will most likely be used sparingly throughout the season in an attempt to keep him healthy for the postseason run in March.
Saunders, Demarshay Johnson and Byrd will see more playing time early in the season, but it remains to be seen if they will crack the rotation that typically shrinks heading into conference play. It’s going to be interesting to have that level of talent available in case injuries force the Aztecs to go deeper into their bench.
Well that does it for our starting five and rotation players. Let us know below who YOU would pick as your starting five!
Stay tuned to sonsofmontezuma.com as the ‘Kiss The Rings’ Podcast makes it’s debut this season where we will talk about all this and more!
SDSU will finally have a contest open to the public on Tuesday night November 1st with an exhibition against San Diego Christian. Expect most of the roster to get playing time in the game. The Aztecs open up the season at home on November 7th against Cal State Fullerton.