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December 9, 2011

Mailbag on the Mesa

Editor's note: Every Friday ASR Publisher Edward Lewis will answer some questions from fans about the Aztecs in this weekly mailbag. Send questions to edwardflewis@yahoo.com, @EdwardLewisASR on Twitter, post questions on the message board or put questions on ASR's Facebook page.

Nick: What does your gut say about the Ronnie Hillman situation? I think he goes.

I'm assuming this question was prompted by the news that Hillman and Leon McFadden submitted papers to test their NFL Draft stock. Well, the more and more I think about it, the more and more I believe Hillman is gone. Rocky Long's logic (and I wholeheartedly agree with this) is if you're not a first or a second rounder, you should come back. But I don't think Hillman's draft stock will improve significantly at all if he stays one more year. He's already rushed for 1,500-plus yards in back-to-back years, and if the NFL scouts really need to see him do it for a third year in a row to draft him, then they probably shouldn't be NFL scouts.

The thing about next year too is he'll be running behind an offensive line that's losing three starters and he'll be playing with a first-year quarterback. That means eight or nine guys in the box every single game, which means more hits and more opportunities for career-threatening injuries. So while I believe he'll likely end up somewhere in the early third or fourth round, which normally should mean you should come back to school, I just don't see how he can improve that stock by going out and rushing for 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns once again. As much as SDSU fans don't want to hear it, he should probably go, and my gut feeling is telling me he will.


Krish: There has been a lot of speculation regarding the effect of the potential move of basketball to the Big West. However, what are the recruits themselves saying about that possibility?

I've only talked casually about it with a very limited number of recruits, but it's really not a big deal to any of them … right now. The Aztecs are winning every game they play (they're 43-5 the last two years), they play in front of what is the best atmosphere on the West Coast right now and they're playing great opponents, whether it's in the non-conference slate or the conference schedule. But this has never been my point about moving to the Big West. Recruits right now aren't going to care much about this conference move, because SDSU is still amazing at what it does and the move isn't set to happen until 2013 (which is light-years away for a high school student).

Down the road is where I think things get hairy with the Big West. Let's say the Aztecs keep up their winning ways in the first year they're in the Big West, but somehow slip up in the conference tournament, don't get the automatic bid and then get robbed of an NCAA at-large berth (like every year Lorrenzo Wade and Richie Williams were at SDSU). Now you're an NIT team playing in a high school gym league. That's where my qualms come in. If you're a perennial NCAA Tournament team playing in that inferior conference, that's OK. Recruits want to go to the tourney and have a chance to win something every year. But one slip-up, and you're all the sudden no better than UC Santa Barbara or Long Beach State. That's where I think you'll start to notice some of the recruits saying, "Hold on a minute with SDSU." And that's why the Big West is such a raincloud for most pundits and fans. You can't have an off game after Christmas, because if you do, you're likely going to the NIT, and that equals an uphill battle with recruits.


Survalli: Winston Shepard, it's been far too quiet. Tony Bland has been spending a lot of time watching Price HS, is Trey Dickerson a fallback or are we preparing to make a move for him?

Everybody just needs to take a deep breath and step away from the Winston Shepard panic button. Look, the spring signing period isn't for another four months. He's already said publicly he wants to slow everything down, focus on his season and then deal with recruiting when the spring signing period draws closer. That's why it's been quiet with Shepard.

As for Dickerson, I really don't think it's going to happen, whether Shepard goes somewhere else or not. SDSU does not want another guard in this 2012 class. It already has Xavier Thames, Chase Tapley, James Rahon, LaBradford Franklin and Jamaal Franklin locked into its guard rotation for the foreseeable future. Spending another schollie on a guard for 2012 just isn't in the plans, which is also why the Aztecs have backed off of Tyrone Wallace, Justin Seymour and Keywhon Powns.

With Shepard, he's a tremendous player. People compare him to Jalen Rose, and everybody knows how that one turned out for Steve Fisher. That's why he's the only 2012 guard left on the radar screen at SDSU. Now things can change, and if Dickerson goes off for 30 points per game, maybe we're talking differently in two months. But that's the way I see it right now.


Vince: I know we just had D.J. Gay after just having Richie Williams, but is X the best pure PG we've ever had?

This question to me is like comparing Derrick Rose to Derek Fisher. Rose is like Thames. A guy who's going to fill up the stat sheet, score at will, drop dimes whenever he can and make a case for MVP year after year. Gay is like Fisher. He's going to average 10 points and three or four assists per game, yet somehow win you a million games and championships.

Now I'm not saying Gay couldn't fill up the stat sheet or Thames won't win tons of games, but saying who is better is like comparing apples to oranges. It's just all about preference. Gay worked so well with last year's team because they had the superstar front court. Thames works so well with this year's team because they need him to be an MVP. Richie Williams worked well with those Wade teams because he was great at what he did (defense and passing). Take your pick, though, and you can't go wrong. Maybe it's time to dub SDSU point guard U.


Adam: What is the latest on Norvel Pelle? Do you see him as an Aztec, eligible, playing ball in 2012? Also, who has more upside, Brandon Randolph or Mark Rodgers (tough question as I know they are friends)?

If I had a nickel for every Norvel Pelle question I've ever had, I would have a ridiculous amount of nickels. Like Shepard, it doesn't seem like Pelle is going to make a decision any time soon. He's been very quiet as well, with his last on-record interview coming when we got him back in September. SDSU is still very high on him and he's still very high on the Aztecs. But like Shepard, he's focusing on other things right now, like becoming eligible to play Division I basketball. When things do start unfolding, I promise we'll be covering it.

As for Rodgers and Randolph, again, it goes back to that Fisher-Rose debate. Obviously SDSU feels Randolph has more upside, with him garnering an offer before his junior season even began. But Rodgers is a pure one. He's a floor general. I don't want to give too much away on them, because we'll have stories up on both sometime this weekend. Check back with AztecSportsReport.com in the next few days for more on this.


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