Jon Gaede | BVN Sports
San Diego State University plays college basketball in NCAA’s Mountain West Athletic Conference.
This conference is often overshadowed by the elite Big East, Big 10, SEC and PAC 12, and is certainly not a favorite in most brackets. However, this year’s “March Madness” changed that forever.
At the NCAA Men’s basketball final in Houston, TX, the Aztecs had a chance to complete a historic run. With only five minutes remaining, they were down by five points when their luck ran out, losing to mighty UCONN 76-59.
The 2023 number five seed Aztecs (32-7) accomplished the improbable, nearly winning it all in the NCAA final in Houston, against the University of Connecticut.
Behind every successful college basketball program there is a legacy of coaches, players and tradition. San Diego State, not really known for national headlines in basketball, embarked on an unlikely five game post season NCAA Tournament run that stunned the nation.
In 2011, an unlikely SDSU team, led by current NBA Los Angeles Clipper superstar Kawhi Leonard (Riverside-King High School) and his Aztecs, competed in the NCAA Sweet 16 until they fell to the mighty UCONN Huskies, led by Kemba Walker. Certainly a great accomplishment then, but nothing like making it all the way to Houston on Monday night.
Two current SDSU players from the Inland Empire, Lamont Butler (Riverside Poly HS) and Matt Bradley (San Bernardino HS) took advantage of the current NCAA transfer portal to join a rebuilding Aztec basketball program.
Both players had outstanding prep careers at their respective high schools and provided the talent to put the Aztecs into that final game.
Guard Lamont Butler, Mountain West ‘Player of the Year’ honors, played high school basketball at Riverside Poly and broke the all-time scoring record of 1,836 points, set by former Poly, UCLA and NBA Hall of Fame superstar Reggie Miller. Butler a junior, earned a scholarship to San Diego State and was the one who hit a fifteen-foot jumper at the buzzer to propel the Aztecs into the NCAA final.
Matt Bradley, the Aztec’s 6’4” outstanding all conference guard was a sensational prep player at San Bernardino HS, earning a scholarship to play in the PAC 12 at Cal Berkeley. Bradley took advantage of the NCAA transfer portal to come to SDSU last season. He was the Aztecs leading scorer in 2023 as he had several outstanding games in the NCAA tournament. Bradley will now anticipate the NBA draft.