LARAMIE – Wyoming's Justin James has been voted All-Mountain West Second Team by the league's coaches, the conference announced Tuesday . It was the third-straight season that James has been named All-MW earning First Team honors last season and Third Team in 2017.
James, a native of Port Saint Lucie, Fla., led the MW in scoring at 21.8 points per game, as that number also ranks No. 20 in the nation this season. He also ranked fifth in the conference at 8.6 rebounds per night. James also added 4.4 assists per night for fourth in the conference.
He led the conference in field goals made with 220 on the season. An excellent offensive talent, James led the MW in free throws made at 189. He has scored 675 points this season and has scored 2,030 career points for fourth in Wyoming history and fifth in MW history. He is two points away from passing Marvelle Harris for fourth in conference history.
A defensive threat, James added a league best 1.5 steals per game. He grabbed 7.5 defensive rebounds per game to rank second in the Mountain West and No. 20 in the nation.
Utah State’s head coach Craig Smith earned the Steve Fisher Coach of the Year honors, while Aggies junior guard Sam Merrill was named Player of the Year and teammate center Neemias Queta was selected Defensive Player and Freshman of the Yea. This marks the 12th time in the league’s history that a school has boasted both the coach and player of the year in the same season.
Fresno State’s Braxton Huggins was named the Newcomer of the year, while Nevada’s Jazz Johnson was tabbed as the Sixth Man of the Year.
Smith, who is in his first-year as head coach for the Aggies, led Utah State to 15 Conference victories, marking the most wins for the program since joining the MW prior to the 2013-14 season, as well as tied for the third-most in MW history. Utah State was picked ninth in the preseason poll released in October. The Stephen, Minnesota, native has won more games than any first-year head coach in school history, securing the best win-percentage and the most total wins for any Division I head coach in his first year with their respective program this season. Smith becomes the first Utah State head coach to capture MW Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year honors.
Merrill, a guard from Bountiful, Utah, led the Mountain West with a 22.0 points per game average during league play. The 6-foot-5 junior scored at least 30 points on three occasions, including a career high 38 points in the regular-season finale against Colorado State, leading the Aggies to a share of the regular-season title. Merrill, who also tallied 4.4 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game in Conference action, is the first Utah State student-athlete to earn the MW Player of the Year award.
Queta, who earned both MW Defensive Player and Freshman of the Year awards, led the Mountain West in blocked shots, averaging 2.4 per game (44 total). In all games, the native of Barreiro, Portugal, set a program record with 73 blocks. The 6-foot-11 center also added his name to the Mountain West record book, tallying six blocked shots against Fresno State on Jan. 9, the most all-time by a freshman. Queta finished the regular season ranked fourth in rebound in Conference games, pulling down 9.7 rebounds per contest.
Huggins, who transferred to Fresno State after playing three years at New Mexico State, emerged as one of the top point guards in the MW, leading the Conference in 3-pointers made per contest (3.8) and third in scoring (19.8 ppg). The senior guard also tallied 4.3 rebounds per contest, leading the Bulldogs to the No. 3 seed in the 2019 Air Force Reserve MW Men’s Basketball Championship.
Johnson averaged 10.2 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game in MW play. The native of Lake Oswego, Oregon, is the first Wolf Pack player to earn Sixth Man of the Year honors.