Tonight we say thank you to a group of seniors who will leave San Diego State as the school's most successful basketball players of all time. In the past four years our Aztecs have reached unprecedented levels of success. A MWC Tournament championship, an NIT Final Four, two NCAA tournaments (including this season), twice breaking the school record for most wins in a season, four 20-win seasons. No other Aztec basketball players can boast a resume like that. With limitless potential for this year's postseason, we say thank you to what this group of seniors have accomplished, as well as what is still ahead of them.
"He's not our best player, but our most important player," Coach Steve Fisher said after point guard DJ Gay dropped 30 points on New Mexico on January 15. Four years ago Gay stepped onto campus as an undersized shooting guard. Today he finishes his regular season career as one of the best leaders in the history of the program. What Gay lacks in razzle dazzle he makes up for in steady and clutch play at the point, making him a crowd favorite. Need a game winning shot? Need to protect the ball for a crucial possession? Need to feed the ball into the post? Do what DJ does.
Emotion. Energy. Excitement. In four years as a starter, forward Billy White has created many memories for Aztec fans. We knew he'd be an important part of Aztec history when in his first game he dropped 13 points and 7 rebounds on Liberty. He'd go on to win the Mountain West Conference's Freshman of the Year award while starting for an Aztec team that won 20 games and made the NIT tournament. By the time his career ends, he will have most likely started more games than any other Aztec. A dominant game is always a possibility with White on the floor, and without him we'll miss stat lines that read 14 for 18 shooting, 30 points, 9 rebounds like he posted earlier this season at Gonzaga.
One of the most decorated prep players in San Diego history, forward Malcolm Thomas needed a couple stops before leaving his mark at the Madhouse on the Mesa. Stints at Pepperdine and San Diego City College only reinforced that Thomas had the tools to be a dominant forward who could do it all. And since stepping on to the court inside Viejas Arena he's done it all. A threat to score 20 points, pull down 15 rebounds or block 5 shots every night, Thomas is also blessed with a talent that separates good big men from great: the ability to make his teammates better. A great passing forward with excellent court awareness, Thomas knows how to find the open man. While we only had him for two years, Malcolm Thomas will be missed.
Frère Jacques. That's all you really need to know about forward Mehdi Cheriet. The ferocious Frenchman drains a three? Frère Jacques. He comes up with a big rebound and put back? Frère Jacques. Hell, even a made free throw? Frère Jacques. No Aztec basketball player has excited the crowd just by stepping on the floor the way Cheriet has. A Show favorite, the French flags start waving and a chorus of "Ding, dang, dong" is ready to go with the sight of Cheriet checking in at the scorers table. While tonight will be the last chance for Cheriet on the court, we'll at least always have Frère Jacques.
Passion, excitement, and joy for the game. This man gets it done both on and off of the court. Ever since BC transferred from Illinois he has been an emotional and motivational leader for this team. Additionally, his willingness to interact with and pump up The Show, along with his Aztec anthem “Black & Red” has made “the Beast” a fan favorite. So join us one more time as we bow to our sensei. With the possibility of obtaining a medical redshirt for his sophomore year*, which was cut short by a serious injury, join us in emphatically chanting for “ONE MORE YEAR.”