Boise State Basketball

Boise State basketball picked fifth in Mountain West preseason poll

Boise State men’s basketball coach Leon Rice’s Broncos are fifth in the Mountain West preseason poll, their lowest since 2012.
Boise State men’s basketball coach Leon Rice’s Broncos are fifth in the Mountain West preseason poll, their lowest since 2012. Associated press file

The Boise State men’s basketball team was picked to finish fifth in the Mountain West’s preseason poll, the conference announced Wednesday morning via Facebook at its annual media days in Las Vegas.

The predicted order of finish and preseason player awards were voted on by 27 media members covering the conference. Boise State has no players on the preseason all-conference team.

The Broncos (164 total points) were picked to finish second in 2015-16 and wound up taking third behind San Diego State and Fresno State with a 20-12 record. Boise State coach Leon Rice returns 35 percent of his team’s scoring from last season, and returns one full-time starter in senior forward Nick Duncan.

Among the team’s losses in the offseason were forward James Webb III and guard Mikey Thompson, who were 2016 first-team and third-team All-Mountain West picks, respectively.

Boise State’s fifth-place ranking in the preseason poll ends a streak of three straight years as the projected runner-up (2013-15). It’s the lowest the Broncos have been predicted to finish since 2012, when the Broncos were picked to finish eighth.

Rice’s Boise State teams have never finished a season lower than seventh place (2010-present) and tied for first in the conference in 2014-15 en route to the program’s most recent appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

Defending-regular season champion San Diego State (293 points) is picked to finish first in the conference, followed by Nevada (253), New Mexico (249) and 2016 Mountain West Tournament champion Fresno State (200).

New Mexico’s Elijah Harris was nabbed as the Mountain West Preseason Player of the Year, while San Diego State’s Jalen McDaniels and Utah State’s Koby McEwen were selected as the co-Freshmen of the Year. San Diego State’s Montaque Gill-Caesar is the Newcomer of the Year.

The Broncos will hold an open scrimmage at 4:15 p.m. Saturday in Bronco Gym prior to the football team’s homecoming matchup against Colorado State. They have home exhibition games against Lewis-Clark State (Oct. 28) and Northwest Christian (Nov. 5) before opening the regular season at home against Northwest University (Nov. 12).

Michael Katz: 208-377-6444, @MichaelLKatz

MOUNTAIN WEST PRESEASON MEN’S BASKETBALL POLL

1. San Diego State (23 first-place votes, 293 total points)

2. Nevada (253)

3. New Mexico (3 first-place votes, 249)

4. Fresno State (1 first-place vote, 200)

5. Boise State (164)

6. Utah State (153)

7. Colorado State (146)

8. UNLV (120)

9. Air Force (90)

10. Wyoming (73)

11. San Jose State (41)

MOUNTAIN WEST PRESEASON PLAYERS

Player of the Year: Elijah Brown, New Mexico

Co-Freshman of the Year: Jalen McDaniels, San Diego State; Koby McEwen, Utah State

Newcomer of the Year: Montaque Gill-Caesar, San Diego State

ALL-MOUNTAIN WEST TEAM

Elijah Brown, New Mexico

Tim Williams, New Mexico

Trey Kell, San Diego State

Jalen Moore, Utah State

Cameron Oliver, Nevada

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