Don't sleep on Utah State

Utah State forward Brady Jardine earned his way onto SportsCenter last season with a ferocious dunk that helped the Aggies beat Saint Mary's on national television and provided a signature moment for their NCAA tournament team. The Aggies have dominated the WAC by winning four straight conference championships.

And if anyone thinks Utah State is in rebuilding mode this season after losing four starters including WAC player of the year Tai Wesley, Jardine is providing a reminder that the Aggies aren't going anywhere by blogging about it.

It's been kind of funny to talk to people over the summer about the team because many act as if the Utah State Basketball program ended with last year's seniors -- like there isn't even going to be a game played in the Spectrum this year. Well ladies and gentleman, there will be a team this year, and to be honest, I think we will surprise some people.

The coaching staff has done an awesome job over the summer in bringing in some great recruits. I dare say that I believe we will be one of the most athletic teams in Utah State's recent past. We are taller, quicker and more explosive than we’ve been since I've been an Aggie. The question still to be answered is will we have as much mental toughness and heart as the past years team.

Jardine, a senior who averaged 7.5 points and 7 rebounds last season, is only one of four returning players. The Aggies have eight new scholarship players who are eligible for action, including junior college transfer forwards Mitch Bruneel and Kyisean Reed. Bruneel was formerly Idaho's state player of the year coming out of high school.

Despite only having started seven games in three seasons, Jardine is expected to see his role expand with he and point guard Brockeith Pane being the top returning players. In Utah State's summer prospectus, Morrill said it's Jardine who has to be the team's go-to guy and that "his senior season should be really special."

While the preseason favorite might be Nevada or New Mexico State, those teams will still have to go through Jardine and a Utah State team that is unaccustomed to finishing anything but first place in the WAC.

"I want this group to believe they can be successful, I just want them to go about it the right way which is day-by-day," Morrill said in a statement. "You can't win a WAC championship by talking about it, you've got to go to work. We won't be favored to win the WAC and that will be the first time in a while. I don't know if I would call us an underdog, but you have a chance to prove that maybe you're better than where you're picked. I suspect we'll be picked somewhere in the middle of the pack. Whatever motivates you to go to work and do what it takes day-by-day to get better, I'm

OK with that."