SPORTS

USU Men’s Basketball Coach Craig Smith Confident In New Roster

Nov 12, 2020, 1:27 PM
Justin Bean - Utah State...
Justin Bean #12, Sam Merrill #5 and Klay Stall #0 of the Utah State Aggies reacts after a basket against the Fresno State Bulldogs during a semifinal game of the Mountain West Conference basketball tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center on March 15, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Nine members of the Utah State Aggies Men’s Basketball team have never played a single minute for the team, according to head coach Craig Smith.

The team lost super-star senior Sam Merrill who is preparing for the NBA Draft and Diogo Brito who was a place on consistency for the Aggies. Even with all of the new faces, Smith is confident in his young squad.

“I believe whole-heartedly in our young, inexperienced guys. If we didn’t believe in them we wouldn’t have recruited them,” said Smith during a virtual interview for Mountain West men’s basketball media days.

Despite his confidence in the 2020-21 roster, Smith knows replacing Merrill is a big task.

“I’ve spent a lot of nights in quarantine thinking about that. You don’t just go and replace Sam Merrill,” Smith admitted.

Craig Smith Is Preparing For A Season Like No Other

Like last season, the 2020-21 season is already different because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Mountain West changed the format of the basketball season, along with many other winter sports.

Smith understands games may get canceled last minute, or his roster may drastically change depending on COVID-19 tests coming back positive, but ensured fans the team is ready for whatever comes their way.

“You just gotta be ready for anything,” Smith said. 

If the college basketball season goes anything like the college football season, games will get canceled. It is happening all over the country, even here in Utah.

Part of being prepared is having guys who can fill in and play multiple positions.

“Everyone has to know multiple positions and play in different spots,” said junior Justin Bean. 

The 2020 Utah State Aggies’ Schedule & Outlook

The Aggies tip the season off on November 25 at the Crossover Classic against Wichita State in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The game is slated for 7:30 p.m. MT. Check out the Aggies’ full season schedule here.

Smith’s team was picked to finish third in the Mountain West this season by members of the media and center Neemias Queta was named to the preseason all-conference team. Despite battling injuries last season, Queta helped the Aggies win the Mountain West Conference Tournament title. The junior averaged a career-high 13.0 points along with 7.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.7 blocks in 22 games in 2019-20.

As for the point guard position, Smith said it is still “to be determined” and could end up being point guard “by committee” with multiple guys getting a shot at the position.

It will be a fun season for the Aggies as they attempt to recreate last year’s magic and win another Mountain West Championship.

  • Utah State Aggies Scoreboard

  • Utah State Aggies Team Leaders

  • Utah State Aggies Standings

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