C.L. Brown, ESPN Staff Writer 846d

Top newcomers in Mountain West Conference

Men's College Basketball, San Diego State Aztecs, Fresno State Bulldogs, Nevada Wolf Pack, UNLV Rebels, New Mexico Lobos

Newcomers don't take long to impact college basketball -- not in this world of one-and-dones and transfers. Over a two-week span, we will look at the top five newcomers in each of the 10 biggest conferences. Next up is the Mountain West.

Looking for those off-the-radar talents who could develop into big names? Look no further than the Mountain West Conference, which has produced several players who fit that description through the years.

San Diego State, the perennial favorite, could again be headed for a top-25 ranking thanks to its group of newcomers. But don't be surprised if Fresno State, which won the league tournament last season, contends for the top spot.

Montaque Gill-Caesar, San Diego State Aztecs

The Aztecs have a pair of potential instant-impact newcomers, including Washington State graduate transfer Valentine Izundu. The 6-foot-10 center should help their always-tough defense as a rim protector.

Gill-Caesar, though, is a bucket-getter who should contribute where they need it the most. SDSU finished second to last in the Mountain West in scoring offense, averaging just 68.6 points per game. Gill-Caesar ranked No. 41 in the 2014 ESPN 100 and originally signed with Missouri. His freshman season was marred in part by a back injury he suffered midway through the year. He never quite had the same bounce after the injury although he still managed to average 9.1 points per game.

The 6-foot-6 guard fits the mold of the versatile and athletic types coach Steve Fisher likes in his lineups. His length will make him an invaluable piece on the front line of the Aztecs' pressure defense. But his ability to score will help compensate for the loss of Winston Shepard.

William McDowell-White, Fresno State Bulldogs

Fresh off its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2001, Fresno State believes it can sustain its success from last season. The addition of McDowell-White is a big reason why.

McDowell-White joined his brother Darryl, a 6-foot-1 guard, who committed to Fresno State in January. The Bulldogs beat Texas A&M and Arizona State for the 6-foot-5 Aussie guard, who also garnered at least peripheral interest from Michigan State, Kansas and Kentucky. The Bulldogs don't normally roam in those recruiting neighborhoods, much less actually land their target. That in itself is a sign of progress for coach Rodney Terry's program.

With a tailor-made NBA point guard's frame, McDowell-White has the Bulldogs thinking they've got the backcourt help needed to replace their veteran backcourt of Mountain West Player of the Year Marvelle Harris and floor leader Cezar Guerrero.

McDowell-White still has to develop into a more consistent shooter, but his floor vision and ability to run a team is a step ahead of other Mountain West freshmen.

Marcus Marshall, Nevada Wolf Pack

The Wolf Pack return four players who each started at least 30 games last season, but none are as gifted a scorer as Marshall. He could be the most important of the 10 newcomers on the Pack's roster.

They ranked last in the Mountain West in 3-point percentage last season, shooting just 30.7 percent. Marshall is a career 39 percent shooter from behind the arc.

Marshall will have only one season of eligibility at Nevada. He sat out last season after transferring from Missouri State, where he was the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Freshman of the Year. He averaged 19.5 points per game and shot 45.6 percent from 3-point range in 14 games during that season.

The asterisk that comes with Marshall stems from his final season at Missouri State. He was suspended for "conduct detrimental to the team," after which he announced the rare mid-January transfer.

Christian Jones, UNLV Rebels

UNLV coach Marvin Menzies filled out the majority of his roster after he was hired in late April. Jones, a graduate transfer from St. John's, came on board in June and should provide instant help to a depleted frontcourt.

Jones is just the kind of player Menzies needs in his first season to conform to his playing style. Jones isn't the type to play outside of his capabilities. He knows what earns him playing time and delivers. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 8.4 points and 5.2 rebounds for the Red Storm last season.

Jones scored a career-high 29 points against Marquette in the Big East tournament last season. Uche Ofoegbu, a San Francisco graduate transfer, may be more important from a scoring sense for UNLV. But in addition to being sound offensively, Jones will help on the boards, where the Rebels lost the majority of their frontcourt rebounding with the departures of Stephen Zimmerman Jr. and Derrick Jones Jr.

Jalen Harris, New Mexico Lobos

The 6-foot-4 combo guard from the same North Carolina academy that John Wall once attended may not earn a starting spot for the Lobos this season. But he should have an impact.

Cullen Neal's decision to transfer opened up the possibility for Harris to compete for minutes as a freshman. He's capable of playing the pace that coach Craig Neal likes to play. In fact, he could be the fastest guard on the court from baseline to baseline with the ball in his hands.

New Mexico won't be relying on Harris to run the show as a freshmen. It has other experienced guards, such as Elijah Brown and Jordan Hunter, who will help Harris ease into that role. Little pressure to perform immediately should allow Harris to be the kind of difference maker off the bench who helps win games.

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