Utah State returns much of the roster and look to make a surprise run in the Mountain West Conference.
The countdown is officially on. For the second straight year, CBB Review has ranked the top 100 teams in college basketball heading into next season. We will reveal the next team daily until we get to number one. Our number 87 ranked team is the Utah State Aggies.
The Aggies lose their two top scorers in Justin Bean (17.4 points per game) and Brandon Horvath (13.9 points per game) to graduation, but they return a lot of the other pieces to the team. With a few graduate transfers in Dan Akin and Taylor Funk, Utah State will look to lean on experience to navigate their way through the Mountain West Conference.
To those who have not, click here to learn more about our preseason top 100 teams in the 2022-2023 college basketball season.
Head Coach: Ryan Odom (2nd Season)
2021-2022 Record: 18-16 (8-10)
2022 Postseason Finish: First Round NIT Exit
Notable Departures: Justin Bean (Graduate), Brandon Horvath (Graduate), Brock Miller (Graduate), Travis Wagstaff (Transfer), Norbert Thelissen (Transfer), Matthew Wickizer (Transfer)
PG: Steven Ashworth (6’1, 170, Jr.)
2021-22 stats: 8.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.4 turnovers, 39.2% 3P
SG: RJ Eytle-Rock (6’4, 225, Gr-Sr.)
2021-22 stats: 7.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 34.4% 3P
SF: Sean Bairstow (6’8, 190, Sr.)
2021-22 stats: 9.5 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists
PF: Taylor Funk (6’9, 220, Gr-Sr.)
2021-22 stats: 13.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 37.3% 3P (St. Joseph’s)
C: Dan Akin (6’9, 225, Gr-Sr.)
2021-22 stats: 10.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1 block (Cal Baptist)
6: Rylan Jones (6’0, 178, Sr.)
2021-22 stats: 6.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.7 turnovers
7: Isaac Johnson (7’0, 235, So.)
2021-22 stats: 2.4 points, 1.1 rebounds (Oregon)
8: Max Shulga (6’4, 197, Jr.)
2021-22 stats: 4.4 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 45% 3P
9: Zee Hamoda (6’7, 170, So.)
2021-22 stats: 2.6 points, 1.1 rebounds, 0.5 assists
10: Cade Potter (6’8, 230, RS-Fr.)
247Sports ranking: 506 overall – 3 star
11: Trevin Dorius (7’1, 240, Sr.)
2021-22 stats: 2.7 points, 2.6 rebounds
Team MVP: Taylor Funk
The St. Joseph’s transfer will look to make a big impact on the offensive end from the jump for Utah State. With their two leading scorers gone, there will be ample opportunity for Funk on offense. He is a skilled forward that will play on the perimeter a lot. He will be the beneficiary of a lot of kick outs as he shot 37.3 percent from 3s last season. He is also a solid movement shooter, but prefers to be catch and shoot.
He also has the skill to put the ball on the ground and attack. At 6’9 he has a combination of shooting and inside game that can make him tough to guard. Funk is also physical and will help some undersized Utah State lineups with rebounding at times.
Make-or-Break Player: Steven Ashworth
Ashworth was the 6th man a lot of the time for Utah State, but do not be surprised if he is the starting point guard this year. Last year he was great in his role, doing a little bit of everything on the offensive end. He is a good facilitator out of the pick and roll. He primarily will be looking to set others up when getting into the paint.
Ashworth was one of Utah State’s best shooters, shooting 39.3% from 3 last season. Many of these were catch and shoot attempts, and it will be interesting to monitor if he adds in more movement shooting for this season. The team is going to need him to do all that he did and more on the offensive end this next season.
Analytic to Know: Highest Assist Rate in the Country (65.6%)
No other teams passed it like the Aggies last season. Utah State assisted on 65.6% of all made baskets, good for the highest rate in all of D1. This led to them having the 8th best 2P% and 24th best eFG% in all of D1 last season. If the 3P% increases, it will make them only that much more difficult to guard.
Utah State will look to make a run in the Mountain West Conference this season. They have holes to fill in who they lost this past season, but the pieces are there to do that and more. Their offensive ball movement make them a threat on any given night. Defensively they have shown they will hold up enough to get the job done.
3 point shooting will be a big thing this season for them. They were slightly above average last season, but they now lack some perimeter creation that can create open kick outs. Their pick and roll efficiency will need to be good in order to have defenses commit to the paint.
This will be a fun team to watch, and if ball movement is something you like, definitely make sure to tune into Utah State to see what they are about.
Projected Conference Finish: 5th in Mountain West Conference
Projected Postseason Finish: NIT/Conference Tournament
Ceiling: NCAA Tournament Round of 32 Exit
For more of the top 100 team breakdowns, click here.