What will the Aztecs look like next season?

Unfortunately, the Aztecs season is over following a first-round exit vs. Syracuse on Friday night. So I figured why not begin the process of looking ahead to next season? This much we know — the Aztecs, like all programs in today’s Division I basketball, will have some significant changes come next season. Here’s what we think we know heading into next season…

Syracuse defeated San Diego State, 78–62 on Friday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse

Replacing Matt Mitchell & Jordan Schakel

While the NCAA has granted all players an extra year of eligibility, it appears extremely unlikely that either Matt Mitchell or Jordan Schakel will return next season based on their post-game reactions following Friday’s loss to Syracuse. The duo comprise one of the winningest classes in San Diego State history, compiling a 96–31 overall record, two Mountain West regular season titles and two Mountain West tournament titles as well. It goes without saying that they will not be easily replaceable.

With that being said, fellow seniors Trey Pulliam, Terrell Gomez and Josh Tomaic have not yet made their intentions known for next season and any combination of that trio could potentially return. For argument’s sake, let’s say one or two of those players do return for next year — that would be a huge shot in the arm for a program that is 53–7 over the last two years.

Even if all five seniors depart, Brian Dutcher said recently on his coaches show that he believes he has a strong core to build around this off-season. Here’s a list of potential returnees:

2021–22 Senior Class:

Center Nathan Mensah, Forward Aguek Arop and Guard Adam Seiko — Mensah could be the front-runner for Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year in ‘21-’22. Assuming health (he battled vertigo symptoms all season long), Arop is an extremely valuable two-way player while Seiko is among the best “3 and D” players in the conference.

2021–22 Junior Class:

Forward Keshad Johnson — Johnson’s defensive improvement coupled with his offensive skill set makes him a leading candidate to have a breakout season in ‘21-’22.

2021–22 Sophomore Class:

Guard Lamont Butler, Guard Keith Dinwidde Jr.and Forward Che Evans — Butler not only cracked the rotation as a true freshmen but also provided valuable minutes in big spots. He’s just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential. Dinwiddie is a gifted scorer that will continue to develop on the offensive end. Evans has the size, athleticism and ability to develop into a valuable wing player.

2021–22 Freshmen Class:

Forward Demarshay Johnson (no relation to Keshad Johnson) — Johnson is a an athletic 6–9, 210-pound forward from the Oakland area with huge upside. He’s only 17 years of age though (he won’t turn 18 until Sept. 23) so it remains to be seen what type of impact he could have this upcoming season.

With anywhere from three to six scholarships still available (five seniors that could depart plus one open scholarship), expect SDSU to be extremely active in the transfer portal. The NCAA is expected to change the Div. I transfer rule which would allow players to switch schools without having to sit out a year. In the last three off-seasons alone, SDSU has landed Malachi Flynn, KJ Feagin, Yanni Wetzel, Trey Pulliam, Terrell Gomez and Josh Tomaic via transfer. Expect some more splashes this off-season from the staff in the highly-volatile transfer market.

The Aztecs will likely add prep players to this recruiting class as well. See below for some players that San Diego State has already been tied to this off-season.

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This week’s Aztecs audio content

Catch up on what you might have missed this week.

Wrap-Up Show: SDSU drops 78–62 decision to Syracuse — www.iheart.com

San Diego State’s season came to an end following a 78–62 loss to the Syracuse Orange in the Opening Round of the NCAA Tournament. Buddy Boeheim paced the Orange with 30 points while Matt Mitchell and Jordan Schakel each scored 17 in the loss for the Aztecs. We break down the result, hear from Brian Dutcher and Matt Mitchell and break down a tough night in Indianapolis.

Best of the Internet

SDSU athletics on social media.

This Week on the Mesa

Aztec Football Postpones Spring Practice — goaztecs.com

The San Diego State athletic department announced that the Aztec football program has postponed the start of spring practice due to contact tracing.

VIDEO: Dutcher, Mitchell and Schakel post-game vs. Syracuse — www.youtube.com

Brian Dutcher, Matt Mitchell and Jordan Schakel react to the opening round loss to Syracuse.

Mitchell Garners AP All-American Status — goaztecs.com
Senior Matt Mitchell is the 10th Aztec, in program history, to be named an Associated Press All-American.

Around College Basketball

Trending SDSU, Mountain West and College Basketball stories

UNLV men’s basketball promotes assistant Kevin Kruger to head coach — www.espn.com
Kevin Kruger, an assistant with UNLV, was promoted to be the head coach of the men’s basketball team, it was announced.

Richard Pitino takes over at New Mexico — www.espn.com
Richard Pitino says he wants to “bring that magic back” to the New Mexico men’s basketball program.

2021 NCAA Tournament schedule, dates: March Madness bracket, games, locations, TV tip times — www.cbssports.com
Check out the master schedule for the NCAA Tournament so you can watch March Madness 2021 all week

They Said It

“There’s only one team in this event that’s going to win every game. I was hoping we’d have an opportunity to make a deeper run at this thing. It didn’t happen. That is a credit to Syracuse and how well they played. I thought we played hard to the end. We had a tendency of maybe struggling to find an offensive flow at times, but our defense always keeps up in the game. But tonight we let them create too much separation. They played well offensively. Obviously we struggled to shoot the ball. Their zone was very good. We were trying to find ways to attack it off the dribble, off the pass, off the high post. Weren’t successful at any of those things because of their high quality defense. So that’s a credit to Syracuse.”

San Diego State head coach Brian Dutcher speaking with the media after Friday’s loss to Syracuse.

Thank you

Photo via San Diego State men’s basketball on Twitter

Thanks for following along throughout the basketball season. We’ll have tons of off-season content as we get you ready for next football and men’s basketball season.

Subscribers to Aztecs Insider will receive a weekly newsletter every Monday directly in their inbox. Please consider sharing or forwarding this email to friends, family and Aztec Nation. Have a suggestion for something you’d like to see in a future edition (or would just like to say hello)? Just reply to this email — I appreciate the feedback! Can’t wait to catch up next week with the very latest news related to San Diego State athletics.

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