LAS CRUCES, N.M. (Oct. 10)-The 2012-13 edition of the New Mexico State men's basketball team returns to the court after both a 2012 WAC Tournament Championship and 2012 NCAA Tournament appearance. The Aggies start practice for the 2012-13 season Friday, Oct. 12.
The Aggies return seven players from a year ago but have to replace a trio that had a significant role in the Crimson and White's success. NM State has a pair of seniors in forwards Tyrone Watson and Bandja Sy back for their final campaigns in Las Cruces. Watson started in 35 games in 2011-12, and he averaged 7.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game and ranked second on the team with 113 assists. Sy played in all 36 games for the Aggies and provided a spark off the bench with 8.8 points and 4.0 rebounds per contest. Sophomore guard Daniel Mullings returns to the hardwood following a stellar freshman season, when he averaged 9.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. Watson and Mullings both earned postseason honors with Watson garnering WAC All-Tournament Team honors, and Mullings collecting WAC All-Newcomer Team accolades in 2011-12.
The Aggies recorded one of the best seasons in school history in 2011-12 with their third WAC Tournament crown in school history and second title in three years. NM State also made the 19th NCAA Tournament appearance in school history but fell to No. 17 Indiana, 79-66, in the second round. The Aggies posted a 26-10 overall record and 10-4 WAC record and were only one win away from tying the school record for wins in a season. The 26 wins were the most since the 1992-93 season.
NM State has to replace forward Wendell McKines, point guard Hernst Laroche and center Hamidu Rahman from a year ago. The trio earned all-conference honors in 2011-12, and each left his own mark in the Aggie record book.
The Aggies are not short on experience with four other letter winners back. Junior center Tshilidzi Nephawe is a fixture in the paint after playing in all 36 games last year and supplying 5.8 points per game and 32 blocked shots. Junior forward Renaldo Dixon and sophomore forward Remi Barry combined to see action in 36 games, while sophomore guard Terrel de Rouen is set to return after a knee injury sidelined the Las Cruces native early in the 2011-12 season.
NM State welcomes five newcomers to the court this season with junior guard Kevin Aronis, freshman center Sim Bhullar, freshman forward Matej Buovac, freshman forward Aaron Kubinski and sophomore guard K.C. Ross-Miller. The Aggies also has three redshirts returning with junior forward/center B.J. West, freshman guard Eric Weary and freshman guard Emery Coleman. West appeared in 24 games in 2010-11 and averaged 2.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, and he ranked third on the team in blocks with 22.
After a season of success, the Aggies are poised to make another run to defend their conference championship with an abundance of experience and eager newcomers.