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Utah State mailbag — point guard battle, and football/hoops recruting

Published November 18, 2013 4:46 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Another week, another mailbag.

A special double-header is coming up this weekend: Colorado State at Romney at 1:30 p.m., then Mississippi State coming to The Spectrum at 7 p.m. I'll be staying all day - will you?

The best part is we've got a week to break down all the Saturday sporting events. We kick off the week with your burning questions:

I was curious as to why Marcel Davis is coming off the bench instead of starting? - Will

Practices are closed, so I'm not privy to all the factors that go into this decision. But I think Stew Morrill has said enough on the record to indicate that he has confidence in TeNale Roland's leadership and ability. And that's kind of what you have to go with.

Rather than saying something is wrong with Marcel Davis, let's look at this from the perspective that Roland has something to offer. Roland is playing 24.7 minutes per game, averaging 8.7 points, 2.7 assists and shooting 46.2 percent from deep. He's not an elite scorer, but with three other guys averaging double digits, he doesn't have to be.

His assist numbers could be better, I suppose, but the whole Utah State team is passing the ball well right now, especially in the starting lineup. I think it's important to note, also, that Roland has been so effective from three, because it adds that extra element that opponents must worry about. They can't just leave him beyond the arc, or he can hurt them.

He's been much more active and effective in the starting role than he did last year, and Stew has shown time and time again that he values experience and maturity. My thought is that Roland has proven to the coaching staff that he deserves to be the starter.

I've been checking the internet sites for committed recruits to Utah State and it looks dismal. What's going on? - Kerry

Looking around the well-known recruiting sites such as Rivals, Scout, ESPN, 24/7, excetera, I don't think that offers the full picture. I'm not sure that any of them have a reporter dedicated to Utah State, so as a result, each site lists about two or three commitments, when in reality, the Aggies have settled a big chunk of the class.

Utah State coaches can't officially comment on recruits until they are signed, but based on different reports, the Aggies have at least seven high school players committed to the program, have several who signed last year but are going through a "gray shirt" year (Tyler Fox, Ryan Watson, a few more) and returning missionaries and a transfer from Tennessee (Daniel Gray). While the grayshirts can be a little murkier, I'm estimating about a dozen guys committed for next year already.

On the recruiting calendar, there are only a few more evaluation days, which is why the Aggies didn't recruit as much last week as the first bye. But with more visits in the winter, and bigger schools finishing up their classes, expect Utah State to get more guys as we approach February. A lot of times, it comes down to January visits, which were very fruitful for USU last year.

The high schoolers I've talked to and done stories on are Chase Christiansen, Demytrick Ali'ifua, Mohelika Uasike, Baron Gajkowski, Jonah Trinnaman and Derek Hastings. I've also seen reports that lineman Gasetoto Schuster and punter Aaron Dalton are committed, but I've not been personally able to speak with them.

I don't think the recruiting has really dropped off from Gary Andersen, but I'm sure Matt Wells and company are still looking for more impact players, and would like to be in those bigger recruiting battles toward the end of the year. Winning games in the Mountain West and winning a bowl game will help sell the program.

No pressure, though.

Should it concern us that USU is bringing in such little front court help with Shaw graduating? How has MW improved bb recruiting? - @Schamp12

I think it's too early to judge how the Mountain West has affected recruiting in all, though I do believe these latest signees were in part sold on the idea of the Mountain West. Moreso than conferences, young players are interested in the teams they'll play: UNLV, New Mexico and San Diego State are pretty good name brands, particularly in the West. But I'm not convinced conferences are as big of a selling point these days, especially with conferences changing all the time.

On that first issue, I think you express a valid concern. Even this year, the center position is thin. If either Shaw or Stone gets in foul trouble - let's face it, it happens - that really leaves the Aggies with one true center. This year, Sean Harris is kind of an emergency five, but that's a stopgap more than a solution.

Next year could be the same, only moreso. Utah State expects Carson Shanks to have developed his body and be physically ready, and he appears to have good touch and skill. But again, if he or Stone are in foul trouble, or even both, there's not a lot of options for Utah State. Harris will likely be gone by then, so the Aggies might have to go with a small lineup with Kyle Davis or David Collette at the five in those situations.

I think next year, center will be Utah State's most urgent recruiting priority. They may look at the junior college ranks or transfers, because they'll probably need a guy who can play right away (Stone is a junior this year). Also, in the event the Aggies open up a roster spot by a transfer - I'm not saying it's going to happen, but merely indicating that it has happened in recent years - they might try to add a big man into this signing class in the spring.

Barnes: the worst seats go to the press. Thoughts, @kylegoon? - @lundberglaw

It makes perfect sense: I don't pay for my seat. The best seats will go to the people who shell out the booster bucks.

In all seriousness, if Utah State can manage to get upgrades to luxury seating on the press box side, I'm sure the media will benefit. I talked with Scott Barnes last week about the upgrades (hopefully we'll be able to run a story on it soon) and it sounds like the Aggies want to get a lot of things fixed up if they can raise the funds, which may include the press box. Personally, I don't mind the facilities, but an elevator might be a nice luxury to have for going up (wink, wink).

That's it for the mailbag, folks. Keep reading, and keep asking questions.

— Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon






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