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(Left to right) Donnel Pumphrey Jr. played at San Diego State from 2013-16, Kawhi Leonard from 2009-11 and Rashaad Penny from 2014-17.

Poll: Ranking greatest SDSU athletes of 2010s

December 11, 2019

The Daily Aztec sports staff of 13 writers each submitted their top-10 list of Aztec athletes of the 2010s. There were 19 nominees selected from. Athletes who got a first place vote received 10 points, a second place vote got nine points, a third place vote got eight points, etc. The points were added up to create this top-10 list.

1. Donnel Pumphrey Jr. (Football, 2013-2016) – 120 points

Pumphrey rushed for a total of 6,405 yards during his collegiate career, which is ranked first in NCAA FBS history. During his senior season, he finished tied for tenth in Heisman Trophy voting and was a finalist for the Doak Walker Award in 2016. He finished as the all-time MWC leader in all-purpose yards (7,515), rushing touchdowns (62), overall touchdowns (67), and 100-yard games (33). Pumphrey was honored six times for MWC Offensive Player of the Week and was a three-time First Team All-MWC player. In 2015 and 2016, Pumphrey was named MWC Offensive Player of the Year.

2. Kawhi Leonard (Men’s Basketball, 2009-2011) – 109 points

In Leonard’s second and last season at SDSU, he ranked first in rebounding, offensive rebounding, defensive rebounding, fourth in scoring, fourth in steals, sixth in free-throw percentage all among MWC players. Across the country, Leonard ranked fourth in double-doubles (23) and ninth in rebounding, as he was one of ten players selected on the Wooden Award All-American team. Leonard was voted to the All-MWC first team, tournament team, defensive team and NABC All-District 17 team. He was one of 10 players nominated for the Naismith Award and one of 20 for the Wooden Award. 

3. Rashaad Penny (Football, 2014-2017) – 91 points

Penny finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting after his senior season. The fifth place finish was the highest since Marshall Faulk finished fourth in 1993 and the best by a Group of 5 running back since TCU’s LaDainian Tomlinson finished fourth in 2000. Penny rushed for 2,248 yards and was the nation’s leading rusher in 2017. Penny was a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award, the nation’s premier running back. In total, he was on nine first team All-American lists, including ESPN and Sports Illustrated. Penny was also the 2017 MWC Offensive Player of the Year as he was able to run, catch, and return kicks. He was a five-time MWC Offensive Player of the Week and a four-time MWC Special Teams Player of the Week. 

4. Damontae Kazee (Football, 2013-2016) – 61 points

Kazee was a two-time MWC Defensive Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016 and became the first cornerback in MWC history to win the award twice. In 2015, he was the first player since Kirk Morrison (2003-2004) to be named MWC Defensive Player of the Year. Kazee is the program leader in interceptions (17). He was part of the teams that won the MWC Championship in both 2015 and 2016. In 2016, Kazee became the first Aztec in program history with six or more interceptions in consecutive seasons. 

5. DJ Gay (Men’s Basketball, 2007-2011) – 49 points

Courtesy of Antonio Zaragoza

As a senior, he helped lead SDSU to its first Sweet Sixteen run by going 34-3. He played in all 140 games since came to SDSU and started the final 71. The 140 games played are the most in SDSU Div. I history. Gay is second in three-point percentage and games started. Gay was on the All-MWC first team, all-MWC tournament team, NABC all-District 17 team selection and was one of 10 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award during his senior season. During the 2010-11 season, Gay hit two game-winners, one during the MWC Tournament semifinals against UNLV and in MWC play at Colorado State. He finished 25th in the NCAA in assist-to-turnover ratio.

6. Ashley Henderson (Track and Field, 2014-2018) – 45 points

Henderson set four school records, including the outdoor 100 meter dash with a time of 10.96. She was a nine-time MWC Outdoor Track and Field Champion and a five-time MWC Indoor Track and Field Champion. Henderson was also a five-time, first-team outdoor USTFCCCA All-American and a four-time, first team indoor USTFCCCA All-American. In 2017 and 2018, Henderson was named Mountain West Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field Most Outstanding Performer.

Senior pole vaulter Bonnie Draxler clears the bar during the Aztec Open & Invitational on March 23 at the Aztrack Sports Deck.

7. Bonnie Draxler (Track and Field, 2014-2019) – 42 points

Draxler was a USTFCCCA Indoor and Outdoor First Team All-American in 2019 and was the MWC Indoor Field Athlete of the Year in 2019. Draxler set two conference and program records during her time at SDSU.  She was named to four All-MWC Indoor Track and Field Teams and five All-MWC Outdoor Track and Field teams. Draxler competed in four NCAAs, placing as high as second in the 2019 Indoor and Outdoor Pole Vault Championship. Draxler swept the pole vault indoor MWC title in all four years she competed and won twice on the outdoor side.


Photo by Monica Linzmeier, Editor in Chief


8. Xavier Thames (Men’s Basketball, 2009-2014) – 38 points

Thames was part of both Sweet Sixteen teams for SDSU and took charge as the senior guard during the 2014 run, which led him to be named MWC Player of the Year in 2014. Thames helped SDSU beat Kansas in Lawrence, Kan., which ended a 68-game home winning streak for the Jayhawks and a historic comeback victory over New Mexico for the MWC Regular season Championship. In his senior season, Thames averaged 17.6 points and 3.2 assists in 36 games in which he all started.

9. Xander Schauffele (Men’s Golf, 2012-2015) – 29 points 

In Schauffele’s senior season, he was SDSU’s top finisher in 11 out of 14 events, recorded eight top-five performances and 10 top-10s. He averaged a 70.49 scoring average. Schauffele recorded 19 rounds under par and 13 rounds in the 60s. He was an All-MWC selection three times and on two third-team All-American lists.

SDSU alumnus Xander Schauffele looks on after a drive during the 2013 season. Schauffele won the 2017 PGA Tour Championship and was named the 2017 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.

t-10. Jamaal Franklin (Men’s Basketball, 2009-2012) – 22 points

SDSU’s Jamaal Franklin is the MW Player of the Year. | Peter Kluch, Senior Staff Photographer
SDSU’s Jamaal Franklin is the MW Player of the Year. | Peter Kluch, Senior Staff Photographer

During the 2011-12 season, Franklin was the top scorer in the MWC, third in defensive rebounding and fourth in free-throw percentage and rebounding. He was also an Associated Press All-American, MWC Player of the Year, and All-MWC first team selection during his sophomore season. Franklin led the team in scoring (17.4) and rebounding (7.9). He ranked second nationally in scoring and rebounding improvement from 2010-11 to 2011-12. 






t-10. Trey Kell (Men’s Basketball, 2014-2018) – 22 points

Trey Kell holds up the Mountain West Tournament MVP trophy after the Aztecs defeated New Mexico 82-75 at the Thomas & Mack Center on March 10.

In Kell’s four seasons at SDSU, he started 112 games and played in 134 total games. Kell was a two-time MWC all-tournament selection and was MWC tournament MVP in his senior season. He helped lead a team go 9-1 to finish the 2017-18 season, which included winning the MWC Tournament Title game and make a trip back to the NCAA Tournament. Kell finished his collegiate career with 1,403 points, good for sixth all-time and second highest in the decade.

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