Damian Lillard was supposed to help the Weber State Wildcats win the Big Sky Conference last season. However, a foot injury forced the dynamic point guard to miss the majority of the year, causing the Wildcats to finish slightly below expectations. With Lillard healthy, Weber State should once again be the Big Sky favorite.
Prior to getting injured last season, Lillard averaged nearly 20 points per game. He was granted a medical redshirt and should be the Big Sky pre-season Player of the Year. He will be joined in the backcourt by sharpshooter Scott Bamforth, who connected on 48.8 percent from distance last season. Jordan Richardson saw an expanded role due to Lillard's injury and will be the only experienced reserve guard while three freshmen try to work themselves into the rotation.
Returning starters Kyle Bullinger and Darin Mahoney should make up two-thirds of the starting frontcourt. Bullinger, a Big Sky All-First Team member, is a versatile player who led the team in rebounding last season but can also stroke it from the outside. Mahoney is an energy player and does the little things to help his team win.
Byron Fulton and Kyle Tresnack figure to compete for the final starting spot. Fulton is another versatile forward who can play inside or on the perimeter while Tresnack brings his big body (6-10, 250 pounds) to the paint. SMU transfer Frank Otis is the only other forward with Division One experience. James Hajek redshirted last season and adds more size inside.
If Lillard can stay healthy, he should help Weber State to the Big Sky Championship. Northern Colorado and Montana will once again be competitive and as always, it will come down to the conference tournament to see which Big Sky team makes the NCAA Tournament.
Player to Watch: Damian Lillard, PG
Lillard's importance to the Wildcats cannot be stressed enough. He has NBA talent and competed in the Adidas Nations Showcase in early August with some of the top players in college hoops like Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones of Baylor. The 2009 Big Sky MVP already ranks 13th on Weber State's all-time scoring list and fourth in three-pointers made.