Las Vegas, Nev. --- San José State and third-year head men's basketball coach Dave Wojcik intend to bounce back from a 2-28 season a year ago with a wave of young talent and two upperclassmen, Gary Williams, Jr., and Princeton Onwas, who are poised to lead the team through one of NCAA basketball's toughest conferences in the Mountain West.
The conference's predicted order of finish, released Tuesday at the Mountain West Men's Basketball Media Day in Las Vegas, shows the Spartans in 11th place. Wojcik, Williams, and Onwas were on hand representing the Spartans at media alongside Fresno State, UNLV, Utah State and New Mexico.
"I'm just excited to play," said San José State head coach Dave Wojcik. "We're longer and more athletic this season, and I love having players that are interchangeable because of their size and speed."
Onwas, a 6-foot-6 senior guard is set to take the floor for the first time as a Spartan after sitting the 2014-15 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Onwas played in 31 games and made 11 starts for Utah in 2013-14.
"We are going to have an aggressive mindset this year," Onwas said. "We are going to get to the basket on offense and also be physical on the defensive end."
Point guard Jalen James is poised to make a big return in 2015-16 after taking a medical redshirt last season. The veteran who has started 39 games for the Spartans will have Williams, Jr., as a backcourt running mate. Williams, a junior college All-American in 2014-15, led Indian Hills Junior College to a 54-9 record in his two seasons there.
"We are a close group," Williams said. "Together we are going to surprise some teams that might be taking us lightly. We have a very talented group of freshmen, and then Princeton and I are the big brothers on the team."
The promising group of freshmen includes San José State's first-ever four-star (ESPN) recruit Cody Schwartz, as well as another all-state of Indiana forward, Ryan Welage. Brandon Clarke, one of the top shot blockers in the state of Arizona as a junior and senior, balances the offensive and defensive skill sets of the youngsters. Schwartz, Welage and Clarke all led their teams to state championship games in 2014-15. Adding to the winning pedigree is 6-foot-6, 225-pound guard Jaycee Hillsman, who led Don Bosco Prep (Crown Point, Ind.) to a 35-5 record last season.
Preseason schedule highlights include a trip to the GCI Great Alaska Shootout, a bout on the road at Marquette and a home-and-home series with Big Sky foe Montana State. San José State opens Mountain West play at home on December 30 versus Utah State.
2015-16 MW Men's Basketball Preseason Predictions
|Rank||Team (1st place votes)||Points|
|1.||San Diego State (22)||272|
|2.||Boise State (2)||234|
|5.||Fresno State (1)||182|
|11.||San José State||41|
2015-16 All-Conference Team
Marvelle Harris, Sr., G, Fresno State
Winston Shepard, Sr., F, San Diego State
Anthony Drmic, Sr., G/F, Boise State
James Webb, III, Jr., F, Boise State
Josh Adams, Sr., G, Wyoming
Preseason Player of the Year
Marvell Harris, Sr., G, Fresno State
Preseason Newcomer of the Year
Tim Williams, Jr., F, New Mexico
Preseason Freshman of the Year
Stephen Zimmerman, Jr., Fr., F, UNLV