Former San Diego State star Kawhi Leonard returned to Viejas Arena on Saturday to have his No. 15 jersey retired. The Aztecs also gave him a little drama.
No. 34San Diego State trailed Utah State longer than it has trailed any other team this season before pulling away late for an 80-68 victory over the visiting Aggies. San Diego State improved to 23-0 (12-0 Mountain West) with the victory, continuing to build on the previous school-record to start a season of 20-0 that came in 2010-11 during Leonard's sophomore season.
Leonard reflected on that 34-3 campaign that ended in the Sweet 16 during his halftime remarks.
"Man, thank you everybody for coming," Leonard said. "It's a dream come true. Just coming here, I wanted to make a name for myself and I wanted to put San Diego State on the map. I wanted to thank the coaching staff, coach (Steve) Fisher, for recruiting hard for wanting me to come to the school. This is why I'm the player (that I am) today. I had a great group of teammates coming in here trusting a freshman, passing me the ball, just wanting me to lead the team. I just thank them as well."
Leonard averaged 15.5 points and 10.6 rebounds as a sophomore before declaring for the NBA Draft and beginning his professional career with the Spurs after he was picked 15th overall. He's won two NBA Finals MVP awards — one with San Antonio and one with Toronto — and is in his first season with the Clippers. Leonard's new teammates came to support him Saturday in San Diego.
"This is a great group," Clippers coach Doc Rivers told CBS Sports Network. "You didn't have to ask. We told them that Kawhi is getting his jersey retired, we'll have a plane for you and it's optional."