SALT LAKE CITY — Utah State men's basketball coach Craig Smith is having some pretty high expectations set for his program.
It's no surprise after the Aggies went 28-7 last season, then return a solid group of players led by Mountain West Player of the Year Sam Merrill and MW Defender and Freshman of the Year Neemias Queta, who last week chose to withdraw his name from the upcoming NBA draft.
NBC Sports ranked Utah State No. 14 in its preseason top 25 released last week, sandwiched between fellow western teams Arizona at No. 13 and Saint Mary's at No. 15.
NCAA national college basketball expert Andy Katz also has the Aggies highly ranked in his preseason Power 36, with USU coming in at No. 19, the second-best team in the west trailing only No. 13 Gonzaga.
"The Aggies will be the pick in the Mountain West with the return of Sam Merrill and Neemias Queta. The Aggies will have a scoring wing and a power player inside. The combination means Utah State should be able to score in any matchup," Katz wrote. "The issue will be can this team handle being the hunted. They weren’t a season ago and won the league. Now the expectations are on Utah State to deliver a league title."
Taysom Hill working at wide receiver
It's another busy offseason for Taysom Hill, the former BYU quarterback turned New Orleans Saints do-it-all reserve. Hill lined up at seven different positions last season, including as a special teams ace and at various positions.
He told players during a high school banquet last week he is lining up more at wideout this offseason, according to Michael Detillier of WWL Radio, and hopes to be an eventual successor to All-Pro quarterback Drew Brees, who is 40 years old heading into his 19th season this year.
ESPN also profiled several different NFL teams who are trying to find the next player like Hill that can play quarterback but is also skilled enough, big enough and fast enough to contribute on special teams and at other positions.
"Look, he does so many different things. He's a football player," Saints head coach Sean Payton told ESPN.com. "When his game is over with, and it's a grass field, (his uniform) is gonna be dirty."
ESPN's Eric D. Williams also examined a former NFL quarterback — Pittsburgh's Kordell Stewart — who also started his career as an all-purpose player before winning a starting quarterback job.
Other links …
Former Utah quarterback Troy Williams signed with the Edmonton Eskimos
Former Ute kicker Matt Gay nailed a 50-yard field goal in practice, according to a Buccaneers team writer
Phil Steele’s West Coast cover for his annual college football preview includes Utah defensive end Bradlee Anae
And finally …
Here’s an impressive stat from Sunday night’s Game 2 of the NBA Finals, when Golden State beat Toronto 109-104 to even the series at one game a piece:
None of those assists were any bigger than this, when Shaun Livingston passed to Andre Iguodala for a 3-pointer with 5.9 seconds to play to put the Warriors up five: