Team preview: San Diego State

Editor's Note: ESPN Insider has teamed with Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook to provide a comprehensive look at all 326 Division I teams. To order the complete 25th anniversary edition of Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, visit www.blueribbonyearbook.com or call 1-866-805-BALL (2255).

(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

With two Mountain West player-of-the-year candidates, a newcomer-of-the-year candidate, four starters back and one of the nation's top recruiting classes, there's not much to dislike about San Diego State this season. But then again, hope always seems to surround this program and something always manages to stand in the way of success.
Take last year, for instance, when the Aztecs' point-guard situation was in shambles.

Senior Wesley Stokes (12.1 ppg, 5.8 apg, 1.6 spg in 2003-04) was academically ineligble the first semester. Then on Jan. 10, he was dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules.

Travis Hanour (1.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg) called it quits on Jan. 13 after a history of knee tendinitis. He played only three games after missing the entire 2003-04 campaign.
A freshman on Arizona's national runner-up team in 2000-01 and a projected starter for the 2002-03 Wildcats before transferring, Hanour was regarded as one of the most talented players in the Fisher era. But because of surgeries on each knee within a one-year span, the senior's potential never could be reached.

And Chris Walton (6.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.5 apg) was severely hampered in his final season at San Diego State. He had a groin pull and then a hip flexor, forcing him to miss 10 games.

Fisher can only wonder what could have been for the son of NBA legend Bill Walton.

"He was destined for a phenomenal season," he said.

So all told, that's 19 games for Walton, three for Hanour and zero for Stokes -- 22 games spread among the top three seniors.

"You just hope you can complete the season with those [other] players," Fisher said.

That wasn't the case. The Aztecs dropped nine-of-10 games from late January to early March and finished 4-10 in the conference, 11-18 overall.

This season, Fisher again has some building blocks. Brandon Heath (18.3 ppg, 3.7 apg, 3.5 rpg, 2.2 spg) and Marcus Slaughter (17.8 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.4 spg, 1.0 bpg) could be the top two players in the conference and the premier inside-outside combination.

"I'm counting on the two of them to be leaders in every way imaginable," he said.