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CSU basketball earns some respect in Mountain West poll, still considered outside of top tier

Kevin Lytle
Fort Collins Coloradoan
Colorado State Rams guard Isaiah Stevens (4) reacts after scoring a point in the second half of the basketball game at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. on Friday, Dec. 13, 2019.

The Colorado State men's basketball team has seen its perception across the Mountain West improve, but the Rams are still viewed as an outsider to the league's upper echelon.

The Mountain West released its preseason all-conference teams and projected team finishes on Wednesday.

The Rams earned some measure of respect in each, as voted on by the media from around the league.

Sophomore guard Isaiah Stevens, the reigning MW Freshman of the Year, is a preseason all-conference selection.

The Rams were picked to finish ninth before last season but rose to a sixth-place finish.

CSU returns four starters and seven players who saw the court last season as the Rams were picked to finish fifth in the league for the 2020-21 season.

"We have a unique situation in this is my third year at CSU, but it's the youngest team we've had," CSU coach Niko Medved said during MW media day on Wednesday. "At the same point in time we return a lot more experience and guys who have played a lot of minutes. It's pretty unique in that way. I'm really excited about this group."

The season can start on Nov. 25, but CSU's nonconference schedule is not yet set, with everything in flux due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Projected standings

Here is the projected order of finish by total points (first-place votes in parentheses):

  1. San Diego State (14), 211
  2. Boise State (4), 188    
  3. Utah State (2), 177
  4. UNLV, 160
  5. CSU, 141
  6. Nevada, 114
  7. New Mexico, 106
  8. Fresno State, 93
  9. Wyoming, 59
  10. Air Force, 39
  11. San Jose State, 32

All-conference team

Stevens is joined on the preseason all-conference team by players from Boise State, San Diego State, UNLV and Utah State.

"It's definitely an honor, blessing. I'm truly grateful that so many people view me as one of the top players in the league," Stevens said. "At the same time, can't get satisfied with things like that."

The Mountain West First Team is:

  • Isaiah Stevens, guard, CSU
  • Derrick Alston, guard, Boise State
  • Matt Mitchell, forward, San Diego State
  • Bryce Hamilton, guard, UNLV
  • Neemias Queta, center, Utah State

Alston earned the preseason Player of the Year honors. The Newcomer of the Year is expected to be guard David Jenkins from UNLV, a transfer from South Dakota State. UNLV guard Nick Blake is the preseason Freshman of the Year.

Rams sign two

CSU made it official with the signing of two Jalen's. Jalen Lake from Waxahachie, Texas and Jalen Scott from Arizona both officially signed on Wednesday to become CSU's two members of the 2021 recruiting class.

Follow Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle and at facebook.com/KevinSLytle. Coloradoan sports can also be followed on Twitter. Support his work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.