Mountain West Preview: Boise State lifted by Chandler Hutchison’s return
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The best news Boise State got in the off-season is 6-foot-7 swingman Chandler Hutchison decided to remain in school after testing the NBA waters.
Hutchison, an all-Mountain West first-team selection last year, was named the Preseason Player of the Year by media members after averaging 17.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per contest in leading the Broncos to a 20-12 record and a berth in the National Invitational Tournament.
“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunities and interest I got from NBA teams,” Hutchison said at the annual MW Media Summit in Las Vegas last month. “I decided to put my focus back on winning a Mountain West championship. What I learned last month (from NBA people) will help me become a better player.”
Boise State head coach Leon Rice was pleased to have Hutchison back in the fold. When he recruited Hutchison out of high school, he was immediately impressed.
“He reminds me of (ex-Gonzaga star) Austin Daye,” said Rice, who was an assistant coach for Mark Few for 11 years before assuming the top job at BSU. “He’s long and lean and a good shooter.”
Hutchison leads a group of eight returners, including Justinian Jessup (7.4 ppg), and junior forward David Wacker (4.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg), the other two returning starters.
Also back are senior guard Marcus Dickinson (3.3 ppg), redshirt junior Zach Haney (5.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg), redshirt sophomore Malek Harwell (1.4 ppg), Alex Hobbs (4.5, 1.5) and junior Robin Jorch (2.3 ppg, 0.9 rpg). Redshirt freshman Derrick Alston also is back with the program.
Rice has five new players, including graduate transfer Christian Sengfelder, a 6-9 forward from Fordham via Germany. He scored 1,059 points in his three seasons at Fordham. He redshirted one season. Redshirt senior Lexus Williams, a 6-foot guard from Valparaiso, averaged 5.1 points in his Horizon League career.
Other newcomers are sophomore transfer Casdon Jardine, who averaged 10.4 points and 6.0 rebounds a game at Southern Idaho. Jardine served a Mormon mission immediately after high school. Cam Christian and Matt Serven round out the roster.
Sengfelder and Williams should help right away.
“You can whine about it and not adjust, or you can adjust your recruiting and make it part of your game plan,” Rice said. “That is what we’ve done, and we’re going to benefit big time from it.”
Sengfelder said he’s enjoying Boise State, but it was a little bit of a culture shock compared to New York.
“It was definitely a transition,” said Sengfelder, who said he also visited Creighton. “It’s a different environment. It (the area) is more spread out.”
“Lexus is an experienced point guard who knows how to play the position,” Rice said in a release. “He’s been part of a winning program and we’re really excited to have him. He’s a great fit here. He’s going to make a difference for this team.”
Williams told reporters he really likes the Boise State offense.
Rice expects to challenge for the conference title along with preseason favorite Nevada and San Diego State. He believes the additions of the two transfers could put the Broncos over the top.
“I think we can be a little better (than last year),” Rice said. “We are a little more experienced.”
Rice has recorded six 20-win seasons in his seven-year career at BSU. In 2011-12, the Broncos made it to the conference title game en route to an appearance in the CBI. In 2012-13 and 2014-15, the Broncos qualified for the NCAA Tournament. Only three times has BSU failed to reach the post-season under Rice.