Depth impresses as men’s basketball team prepares for season opener

No. 19/20 Aztecs defeat San Diego Christian 102-52 in exhibition game

Aztec+players+%28from+left+to+right%29+Jaedon+LeDee%2C+Darrion+Trammell+and+Micah+Parrish+set+up+on+defense+during+the+game+against+San+Diego+Christian+on+Nov.+1.

Jesse Gordon

Aztec players (from left to right) Jaedon LeDee, Darrion Trammell and Micah Parrish set up on defense during the game against San Diego Christian on Nov. 1.

by Justin Cox, Sports Editor

As the No. 19 San Diego State men’s basketball team enters the regular season, expectations are as high as they have been in the Brian Dutcher era. They enter the season ranked for the first time since 2010 and return four of five starters from last season’s 23-9 team. They also return multiple key bench contributors to pair with a strong class of newcomers such as senior guard Darrion Trammell and senior forward Jaedon LeDee. 

During the Aztecs’ 102-52 blowout over San Diego Christian, the team looked sharp and ready to live up to its lofty expectations— ready to avenge last year’s loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The win was the final tune-up for the Scarlet and Black as head coach Brian Dutcher spread playing time around the roster, giving fans a taste of what each player has to offer this season.

A team this deep is a good problem to have for Dutcher. 

“It’s a very talented team, very deep,” Dutcher said.” Now we’ll take what we learned from this game and try to make the next step forward leading into the opener.”

LeDee, senior forward Keshad Johnson and senior guard Matt Bradley each scored 13 points apiece to lead the Aztecs, but nearly every player down the roster made contributions throughout the game. 

It was LeDee’s first game for the Aztecs after redshirting last season and he was ready to play. After the Aztecs opened the game by missing some open looks, the 6 ‘6 TCU transfer made an instant impact when he was subbed into the game— going on his own 8-0 run, which included two top of the key threes. 

“It was really fun,” LeDee said after his first game at Viejas. “I’ve never played in a place like this. It’s a lot different than practice so I just gotta keep getting my feet wet.” 

Defensively, the Aztecs deployed a full-court press for most of the game. The starting backcourt of junior guard Lamont Butler and Trammell combined for seven steals as the Aztecs forced 26 turnovers. These turnovers led to 30 fast break points for the Aztecs including a high-flying alley-oop dunk from Butler to Johnson.

Aztec junior gaurd Micah Parrish lets a three-pointer fly during SDSU’s 102-52 rout over San Diego Christian on Nov. 1. (Jesse Gordon)

“I know our potential is out the roof,” Johnson said. “But (Dutcher) always tells us, our biggest opponent is ourselves. We will only be as good as we allow ourselves to be.” 

The low-stakes game allowed Dutcher to substitute freely as he gave his freshman the opportunity to close the game. Besides Johnson’s dunk, the loudest cheer of the night might have been after freshman guard Cam Lawin hit a three to give the Aztecs their 100th point of the night. 

Heading into the regular season, Dutcher will have to be tighter with his rotation, and a team this deep, it will be difficult to find minutes for all the talent on the roster. 

“I love my rotation,” Dutcher said. “I’m not sure how their parents will feel at the end of the year, but I love it right now.” 

The Aztecs have their first chance to turn potential into wins next Monday when they take on CSU Fullerton at Viejas Arena on Nov. 7.