San Diego State is off to the best start in program history, an unblemished 22-0 this season. It's only fitting that the best player to wear an Aztecs uniform be a part of the history.
At halftime of Saturday's game against Utah State, San Diego State is holding a jersey-retirement ceremony for reigning NBA Finals MVP and Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard, who played for the Aztecs from 2009-11. Leonard led the Aztecs to consecutive Mountain West championships and NCAA Tournament appearances in his two collegiate seasons.
The San Diego City Council is also naming Saturday "Kawhi Leonard Day" in San Diego.
"I think it'll be one of the best environments we've ever had here with an undefeated team playing the unanimous pick to win the Mountain West Conference and Kawhi Leonard jersey hanging up in the rafters," Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher told KPBS. "I think it is going to be electric in the building."
In 2011 Leonard's Aztecs, with Dutcher serving as then-coach Steve Fisher's lead assistant, reached the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history before falling to Kemba Walker and the eventual champion UConn.
After entering the 2011 NBA Draft, when he was taken by the Pacers with the No. 15 pick, Leonard has evolved into one of the NBA's best players and has claimed two NBA Championships and Finals MVPs, with the Spurs in 2014 and the Raptors in 2019.
Leonard's scarlet and black jersey will be the first to hang in the Viejas Arena rafters.
"To be the first to have your jersey hung in the arena is an incredible honor, and well deserved by Kawhi," Dutcher told the San Diego Union Tribune. "I like the fact that it's for what he did at San Diego State. We all know what he's done in the NBA, but he came in here and led us to a 34-3 record with maybe the greatest team in Aztecs history."
This season's San Diego State team has a chance to be even better., the Aztecs are likely to be favored in all their remaining regular-season games.