The No. 4 San Diego State University team (23-0) rallied late behind 28 points from Matt Mitchell to defeat Utah State University 80-68 Saturday, Feb. 1, at Viejas Arena. At halftime former Aztec Kawhi Leonard (2009-2011), and current Los Angeles Clipper, had his jersey retired in front of a packed crowd at Viejas Arena. Leonard, who attended the sold-out game, as did Steve Fisher, who coached the Aztecs during the 6-foot-7 forward’s two seasons with the team, is the first player in program history to receive the honor.
Leonard signed with San Diego State University out of Riverside’s Martin Luther King High School Nov. 12, 2008, and is among three players in San Diego State history to average a double-double for his career. He is also third on the Aztecs’ all-time rebounding list, averaging 10.2 per game, and 24th in scoring, averaging 14.14 points per game.
“He is the kind of player that every coach loves to have,” Fisher said after the game.
In his final college season, 2010-2011, Leonard led the Aztecs to 20 consecutive victories and a 20-0 start and a berth in the Sweet 16, where they lost to eventual national champion University of Connecticut. San Diego State University had never won an NCAA Division I tournament game before that season. Then current Los Angeles Clippers star was a second-team All-America selection by The Associated Press for the 2010-2011 season and a first-team All-Mountain West Conference selection. He was the MWC Freshman of the Year for the 2009-2010 season.
Leonard, who led San Diego State University in scoring (12.7 and 15.5 points per game) and rebounding (9.9 and 10.6) in both his seasons, opted to make himself eligible for the NBA draft following his sophomore season. He was selected by the Indiana Pacers with the 15th choice in the 2011 and was dealt to the San Antonio Spurs in a draft day trade. There, he led the Spurs to the 2014 NBA championship and the Toronto Raptors to the 2019 title and was selected as the NBA Finals MVP both times.
Valley News photographer David Canales contributed to this article.
JP Raineri can be reached by email at email@example.com.