San Diego, California - San Diego State rising sophomore Jalen McDaniels will return to the Aztecs for his sophomore season. The forward declared for the 2018 NBA Draft, but did not hire an agent to maintain his college eligibility.
“We are excited to have Jalen return for his sophomore season,” head coach Brian Dutcher said. “We are looking forward to having him help us defend our Mountain West title and return to the NCAA tournament.”
McDaniels’ decision to return to The Mesa comes after he tested the NBA Draft waters and gained feedback from NBA teams.
“After thoughtful consideration with my family and coaching staff, I have decided to return to San Diego State for my sophomore season,” McDaniels said. “I’m looking forward to furthering my education and returning to the NCAA tournament.”
With McDaniels in the fold, the Aztecs are set to return three of their top four scorers from last season (Devin Watson, Matt Mitchell, McDaniels) and four of their top six (Watson, Mitchell, McDaniels, Jeremy Hemsley) off a team that went 22-11, won their Mountain West-high 11th conference title and advanced to the NCAA tournament.
The 6-10, 195-pound all-conference selection out of Federal Way, Washington, played in all 33 games last season with 21 starts and averaged 10.5 points and a team-best 7.5 rebounds, while shooting a team-high 58.6 percent from the floor (minimum 100 field-goal attempts).
McDaniels in 2017-18 showed glimpses of what was to come over the first 10 games of his redshirt freshman season. He grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds vs. Sacramento State and then went for 11 points and eight boards in the win over Georgia. Against Bradley, he posted 14 points and 12 rebounds to record his first double-double of his career.
His breakout game came in the victory over No. 12/15 Gonzaga, when he registered 15 points and 10 rebounds. That performance spring-boarded him into the starting lineup for the first Mountain West game and the rest of the conference schedule save for the Senior Night win over nationally ranked Nevada. In 18 MW contests, McDaniels led the team in points (226), but was second in scoring average (12.6), and pulled down an SDSU-high 8.5 rebounds. He shot an incredible 62.8 percent from the hardwood and made 81.3 percent of his free throws, both of which led the Aztecs. McDaniels also ranked second in blocked shots (12) and steals (21), while adding 16 assists.
At the end of the conference campaign, McDaniels was named to the all-Mountain West third team by the league media and to the honorable mention squad by the MW head coaches.
Following both announcements, McDaniels helped the Aztecs win the Mountain West tournament title after they won three games in three days in Las Vegas. Over the course of those three outings, McDaniels averaged 10.7 points and a team-high 8.0 rebounds, while shooting 60.0 percent from the field and 80.0 percent from the charity stripe. In the semifinal round against top-seeded Nevada, the forward put up 17 points and 12 rebounds, including five on the offensive glass.
In the NCAA tournament vs. Houston, McDaniels led SDSU with 18 points and pulled down nine rebounds.
With its first NCAA appearance since 2015, San Diego State recorded its 12th postseason berth in the last 13 years.