COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Mountain West revealed its preseason poll and all-conference team today, and San Diego State has been picked defend its crown for a third straight year in 2012-13. In addition to being tabbed as the favorite, SDSU student-athletes Jamaal Franklin, Chase Tapley and Dwayne Polee II all picked up preseason accolades.
The Aztecs, who are ranked 20th in the USA Today Coaches' Top 25, received 10 of 18 first-place votes and earned 153 points to claim the top spot in the preseason poll. UNLV garnered the other eight first-place votes and had 151 points overall. New Mexico (122 points), Colorado State (106) and Nevada (89) rounded out the top five, and were followed by Wyoming (70), Fresno State (49), Boise State (43) and Air Force (27).
This is the fourth time the Aztecs have been picked to win the Mountain West by those who cover the league. SDSU was the preseason favorite in 2005-06 and 2010-11, and won both the regular-season and tournament titles. It was also tabbed as the early favorite in 2006-07, but finished in a tie for third place.
Franklin, the 2012 MW Player of the Year, was voted the preseason player of the year. The AP All-American comes into the new season as the Mountain West's top returning scorer after putting up 17.4 a game as a sophomore.
Franklin also returns for his junior campaign as the Aztecs' leading rebounder after averaging 7.9 a year ago. In addition to his preseason player-of-the-year honor, Franklin was named to the preseason all-MW team.
Franklin's backcourt teammate, Tapley, landed on the first team as well, to make SDSU the only school with two preseason all-conference selections. The senior and 2012 all-MW second-team pick is the second-leading returning scorer (15.8) in the league, while shooting 45.5 percent from the field last year.
Polee II shared preseason newcomer-of-the-year honors with UNLV's Bryce Dejean-Jones. This is the second straight season in which an Aztec earned the award as Xavier Thames was recognized last year. Polee II sat out last 2011-12 after transferring from St. John's where he helped the Red Storm reach the NCAA Tournament in 2011. While at St. John's, the forward started 27 of 33 games and averaged 4.4 points and 2.5 rebounds.
The poll and the preseason team were voted on by a panel which consists of media that cover the Mountain West.
The Aztecs, who finished the 2011-12 campaign with a 26-8 record, are coming off their fourth straight season with at least 25 victories and their third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. In each of the last seven years, the back-to-back Mountain West regular-season champions have won 20 or more games and have advanced to the postseason.
In 2012-13, San Diego State returns four of its five starters and its top four scorers from last season. The Aztecs also welcome three Division I transfers and a heralded recruiting class.
2012-13 Mountain West Preseason Poll
Team (1st-place votes) Points
1. San Diego State (10) 153
2. UNLV (8) 151
3. New Mexico 122
4. Colorado State 106
5. Nevada 89
6. Wyoming 70
7. Fresno State 49
8. Boise State 43
9. Air Force 27
2012-13 Preseason All-Mountain West Team
Jamaal Franklin (San Diego State, Jr., G)
Chase Tapley (San Diego State, Sr., G)
Deonte Burton (Nevada, Jr., G)
Kendall Williams (New Mexico, Jr., G)
Mike Moser (UNLV, Jr., F)
2012-13 Mountain West Preseason Player of the Year
Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State, Jr., G
2012-13 Mountain West Preseason Freshman of the Year
Anthony Bennett, UNLV, Fr., F
2012-13 Mountain West Co-Newcomer of the Year
Dwayne Polee II, San Diego State, So., F
Bryce Dejean-Jones, UNLV, So., G