Breven’s Blog: McDaniels Drafted by Hornets

Jalen McDaniels

The only question heading into last season for former Aztec basketball player Jalen McDaniels was whether or not he was going to be drafted.

This was one thing to look forward to this summer, as mentioned in my earlier preview. McDaniels had a great freshman year and some even compared him to former Aztec, Kawhi Leonard. McDaniels was only one of four freshmen in the country to average at least 10.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and shoot at least 58% from the field. That is how great he was as a freshman and why people were comparing him the two-time NBA Finals MVP.

After his freshman season was over, he tested the NBA waters, which meant participating in camps and playing in front of scouts to see what parts of his game needed to get better for year(s) to come. Obviously his weight was a factor for the position he played (195 pounds) at the power forward spot and sometimes at center. Even SDSU men’s basketball coach Brian Dutcher would refer to him as “the skinniest player in college basketball.” For reference, Anthony Davis has the same height as McDaniels (six-foot-10), but weighs 254 pounds, almost 50 pounds heavier. If Davis were to post up on McDaniels, terms like “Barbeque chicken” or “Bully ball” would be heard (credit to Shaquille O’Neal for those terms). Besides his weight, scouts also wanted to see McDaniels’ perimeter shooting improve.

And McDaniels did improve through his points.

During his freshman year, McDaniels averaged 10.5 points. In his sophomore year, he would increase that to 15.9 points per game. His outside shooting game is one of many factors related to the five-point increase. McDaniels started to not only post up and drive to the basket, but he would take shots from three-point range or make a one-dribble pull-up shot, just inside the 3-point arc.

Having a perimeter shot is huge in the NBA, especially for big men. Big centers or tall power forwards use their mid-range jumper to their advantage like San Antonio Spurs’ LaMarcus Aldridge. People wouldn’t expect a big man like Aldridge to shoot a mid-range shot; thus, when he does take the shot, it goes in.

Two months before draft, mock drafts had McDaniels as a late first-rounder or early second rounder. 

On draft night, McDaniels was the 52nd overall pick during the second round by the Charlotte Hornets, owned by one of the greatest basketball players to ever play, Michael Jordan. This settles the question of whether or not McDaniels was going to be drafted.

In McDaniels’ two years as an Aztec, he played every game of his career. He averaged 13.2 points, that includes a 30-point game against UNLV this past season, averaged 7.9 rebounds, shot 76% at the free-throw line, shot 50% from the field in two years and had 101 assists. 
In addition, McDaniels recorded 20 career double-doubles, which is the sixth highest in school history and second behind two-year players (Leonard leads with 40).

Written by: Breven Honda

San Diego State’s March Madness Bid Hopes

On March 6th, the San Diego State men’s basketball team faces off against Fresno State University, hoping to gain a bid into March Madness.

This is the 30th game of the season for SDSU and will feature a senior night farewell to stars such as Jeremy Hemsley, Devin Watson, and Michael Sohikish. The Aztecs have won 9 out of their last 11 games and will battle Fresno for the 3 seed at the Mountain West Championship hosted in Las Vegas. With a win against Fresno, the Aztecs would go undefeated at home in conference play for the second time in 20 years. Although the Aztecs will receive an automatic bid at the conference tournament, the question remains whether they will make the March Madness bid?

SDSU has appeared in 14 NCAA tournaments in school history and they have a chance to make the 68 team bracket in a couple weeks. However, Utah State or the University of Nevada will probably receive the automatic bid to March Madness. Though SDSU is the reigning conference champion, Utah and Nevada have both won at least 6 more games than SDSU in the 2018-19 season.

32 teams receive an automatic bid to March Madness based on their conference championship, 36 receive an at-large bid, and 4 play for the 16th seed in Ohio during the First Four tournament.

It is going to be awfully close in terms of whether or not SDSU will make the bracket. I project them to be “on the bubble” and finish the season with a 20-11 record, beating Fresno at home and losing to #17 Nevada on the road. That kind of a record will float them just around a .650% winning percentage for the season, which is NCAA March Madness material.

First, they have to beat Fresno at home and give Nevada a run for their money. Look for 2-time MW player of the week Jalen McDaniels to help aid them in that journey as he is averaging 16.4 points per game this season. Strength of schedule will play a factor in the NCAA’s evaluation tool for determining the 38 teams. I believe that beating Nevada in a stunning fashion on February 20th at Viejas Arena, and playing them on the road to end the season will boost SDSU’s chances of making the tournament.

Come March 17th, hopefully San Diego State’s name will be called.

Written by: Jacob McCulloh