SDSU enters the transfer season

Kristian Carreon, Senior Staff Photographer

by Patrick Carr, Senior Staff Columnist

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The Fantastic Four.

That’s how the most heralded freshman class ever at San Diego State was branded coming into the 2014-15 season. That class is losing one of its own, though not who many think.

Freshman Kevin Zabo announced earlier this week he’ll transfer from SDSU, contrary to what he told reporters after the Aztecs crashed out of the NCAA Tournament last month. Zabo said he was going to come back.

According to the school, Zabo consulted with his family and that helped him change his mind. Zabo got solid minutes in the non-conference season, but injured his foot and by the time he was fully healthy, he was buried in the bench.

It didn’t help that freshman forward Malik Pope’s emergence gave head coach Steve Fisher a go-to bench player.

Zabo is a pass-first player and was the only pure point guard on the team, something SDSU desperately needed last season and still needs in 2015-16.

Incoming recruit Jeremy Hemsley is an option for starting point guard, but Fisher isn’t the biggest fan of starting a freshman.

So now the big question: What will Fisher do with the additional scholarship? There are two available for this upcoming season.

The main chatter around the Mesa is the Aztecs need a graduate transfer who’s immediately eligible and can score. That should be the priority.

The other not-as-pressing need is a big man who can provide depth once juniors Skylar Spencer and Angelo Chol graduate in 2016.

Here’s a look at some graduate transfers who are immediately eligible that SDSU should seriously consider for 2015-16:

Junior forward Mark Tollefsen, University of San Francisco: Tollefsen is graduating from USF and is immediately eligible. He’s 6-9, which complements an already-tall returning Aztec squad, and averaged 14 points while shooting 53.5 percent from the field last season (37.8 percent from 3-point range). He’s considering the Aztecs along with University of California, Berkeley, and University of Arizona. Tollefsen should be Fisher’s top target.

Junior guard Sterling Smith, Coppin State University: The 6-4 guard averaged 13.9 points and 4.9 rebounds to go with 46.8 percent from the field, 41.8 from downtown and 77.2 at the line. He caught fire late in the season for the Eagles, who finished at 8-23. If Fisher can’t land Tollefsen, he needs Smith to sure up the Aztecs’ backcourt. It doesn’t appear Smith is looking out West, however. He’s reportedly visiting University of Louisville next week and is interested in Georgia Tech University and Wake Forest University.

 

Junior forward Mark Tollefsen, University of San Francisco: Tollefsen is graduating from USF and is immediately eligible. He’s 6-9, which complements an already-tall returning Aztec squad, and averaged 14 points while shooting 53.5 percent from the field last season (37.8 percent from 3-point range). He’s considering the Aztecs along with University of California, Berkeley, and University of Arizona. Tollefsen should be Fisher’s top target.

Junior guard Sterling Smith, Coppin State University: The 6-4 guard averaged 13.9 points and 4.9 rebounds to go with 46.8 percent from the field, 41.8 from downtown and 77.2 at the line. He caught fire late in the season for the Eagles, who finished at 8-23. If Fisher can’t land Tollefsen, he needs Smith to sure up the Aztecs’ backcourt. It doesn’t appear Smith is looking out West, however. He’s reportedly visiting University of Louisville next week and is interested in Georgia Tech University and Wake Forest University.

Junior forward Quintin Brewer, Bethune-Cookman University: The 6-8 Brewer averaged 9.2 points and seven rebounds for a Wildcats team that went 11-21. Here’s the catch to Brewer: he has a lot of room to improve. He only played 28.1 minutes per game, mainly due averaging about three fouls per game and fouling out seven times. A summer with Fisher’s staff, including defensive mastermind Justin Hutson, could do wonders for Brewer.

Junior guard Derrick Gordon, University of Massachusetts, Amherst: Gordon averaged 9.8 points and 4.9 rebounds last season for the Minutemen, but he was very streaky. Against St. Joseph’s University in February, he went 0-3 from the floor and finished with three points. Three days later, he scored 20 points against Fordham University. He’d certainly be a good pickup, but SDSU needs consistency. Gordon would be a big gamble. You might recognize his name, too. He’s the first openly gay player in Division I men’s basketball.

Junior guard Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke University: This falls under the “never going to happen” category. He’s the first player Blue Devils’ head coach Mike Krzyzewski has ever kicked off a team. Sulaimon is athletic, talented and explosive. But, how team-oriented is he? Fisher doesn’t like guys who have off-court issues, so Sulaimon would pretty much have to convince a judge and jury to play at SDSU.

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