Last year at this time, the Aztecs were welcoming two new scholarship players to the squad. This season, five newcomers will join the team on the Mesa for the first time, including three new transfers. You might even see one or two of them tonight! Let’s talk about how each of them will contribute this season – and enjoy their Twitter words of wisdom.
Montaque Gill-Caesar, G, sophomore
The Aztecs averaged 68.6 (not nice) points per game during the 2015-2016 season, coming second-to-last in the conference in offense. This year they lose one of their top scorers in forward Winston Shepard. But Gill-Caesar could help to fill that hole.
As a freshman at Missouri, he averaged 9.1 points and 3 rebounds in 24 minutes per game despite suffering a back injury midway through the season that affected his play for the second half of the year. Eligible to contribute on the court after sitting out the year, he looks to help the team in the weakest part of its game: scoring.
And he’s not just here to get buckets, either. The 6-foot-6 sophomore guard should also be a great addition to the Aztecs’ pressure defense, helping them continue their legacy of defensive dominance.
Max Hoetzel, F, sophomore
Like Gill-Caesar, Hoetzel is a transfer who will be making his debut for the Aztecs this season after red-shirting last year. The former three-star recruit is like a cross between Winston Shepard and Matt Shrigley, with a build similar to the former and shooting capabilities like the latter.
Hoetzel shot 34.5 percent from deep while averaging 7.7 minutes per game in his freshman year at Indiana University. He should be a needed addition to the Aztecs, who shot a combined 31.9 percent from beyond the arc last season.
Valentine Izundu, C, senior
The graduate transfer out of Washington State committed to SDSU earlier this year following his first official recruiting visit, after which he immediately cancelled visits to Mountain West rivals UNLV and Fresno State.
Izundu’s contributions will likely come on the defensive end of the court. The 6-foot-10 senior has been compared to Skylar Spencer, but more muscular with a higher (albeit slower) jump. For a team that relies heavily on defensive prowess to win games, Izundu could be a game-changer this season with his shot-swatting abilities
Jalen McDaniels, F, freshman
In his senior year at Federal Way High School in Washington, McDaniels led his team to a 24-0 season and a state championship, earning him the title of best power forward in Washington by Scout.com. Despite being the only true freshman on a team full of talented veterans and redshirts, McDaniels should get a good amount of playing time.
His versatility is a major key, and his raw talent and ability to learn things quickly could eventually earn him a starting spot. Not only is he already being compared to the likes of Jamaal Franklin who, also as a freshman, contributed on a team that went 34-3.
Even though his college career hasn’t even started yet, many are already projecting McDaniels to become one of the best players in SDSU history.
Nolan Narain, F, freshman
The four-star recruit and redshirt freshman is originally from Canada, but attended high school in Indiana before committing to SDSU. He made the decision to graduate high school a year early and spent the 2015-2016 season with the Aztecs scout team, developing and gaining invaluable experience.
In addition to a body and skillset similar to fellow newcomer McDaniels, that should help him become a major player for the Aztecs this season and for years to come. He’s a bit weaker inside the arc, but should improve with more practice and playing time, and if he can make his shots from deep he’ll be a crucial offensive addition.