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Which Mountain West Freshmen Could Be Set For Breakout Campaigns?

There are some talented incoming freshmen that are poised to be major contributors for their programs this season.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Ahh, early August. The worst part of the sports calendar. Baseball is in the dog days of the season, and football training camps oversaturate the sports media agenda. Hey, at least we have the Olympics to enjoy.

August is also the time of year when college students begin to wrap up their summers and prepare to venture back to campus for another year of late nights and overpaying for textbooks that they’ll use once. For freshmen students, especially student-athletes, making a smooth transition is pertinent to their success in that first year.

We take a look at some incoming freshmen in the Mountain West that should be able to make that transition and make an impact for their teams the minute they step foot on campus.

Gavin Baxter - BYU

Baxter (please refrain from the Arthur memes) is a long, athletic forward who has the potential to do a lot of things for the Cougars. At 6’7", Baxter could thrive as a combo forward that can match up with both 3’s and 4’s once he adds more strength to his frame. He’s a decent shooter, and has shown brief flashes of a post up game. Baxter also uses his athleticism to be a good rebounder for his size. On defense, he might struggle with bigger or quicker forwards, but his 7’1" wingspan (someone tell Jay Bilas!) should help him hold his own while his body develops.

Jalen McDaniels - San Diego State

Stop me if you’ve heard these words to describe a San Diego State recruit: upside, wingspan, versatility. All of those buzzwords are applicable to power forward Jalen McDaniels. At 6’9" and only 185 pounds, McDaniels is your typical raw but athletic forward who has shown the potential to be a headache for opposing coaches. He possesses both a nice face-up game and post repertoire, and is an underrated ball-handler for a player of his size.

On defense, he uses his length and athleticism to be effective on the glass and protecting the paint. As he grows into his body and continues to develop his skill set, he could be the next Aztec that develops into an all-around force.

William McDowell-White - Fresno State

William McDowell-White has the potential to be an elite floor general for Fresno State. The Aussie has great size for a point guard at 6’5", an extremely high basketball IQ, and just has a natural feel for how to set his teammates up for open shots. He uses a tight handle and excellent vision to get into the heart of the defense, and is capable of finishing at the rim, drawing a foul, or finding the open teammate. He still has a lot of room to improve as a shooter, but still should be a key cog in the Bulldog offense this season.

Devearl Ramsey - Nevada

Ramsey might not be the biggest player on the court, but he’s one that opposing teams must always keep an eye on. At 5’10", Ramsey is a point guard that is hard to keep in front of, especially in transition. He possesses incredible speed with the basketball, and is capable of using that speed to score and create for his teammates. He brings it at the other end of the floor too. Ramsey is a hard-nosed defender that pesters opposing ball-handlers. He’s still a shaky shooter, and has some lapses where he makes questionable decisions, but overall he’s a guy that should be a catalyst in the Wolfpack offense for years to come.

Jalen Harris - New Mexico

Harris should be a fun player for New Mexico fans to watch. He’s a lightning quick combo guard who uses a combination of gifted ball-handling and a solid jumpshot to get buckets from all over the court. He’s a bit of a tweener, and plays a little bit better off the ball as a slasher, but has the skills to develop into a point guard. He’s quick enough to guard opposing point guards, so that may be the position that suits him best at the next level. He won’t be forced into a heavy workload in his freshman year, so that should allow him to get acclimated to the game at the college level.


All told, the Mountain West has a loaded group of freshmen joining the conference next season. How they develop is still up for debate, but based on how things look now, this could be a group that does big things long-term.