Aztecs ink two four-star prospects

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SAN DIEGO – One of the most exciting days of the year is National Signing Day and fans of men’s basketball in the state of San Diego have a lot to look forward to. The Aztecs inked a pair of 4 start recruits in Elijah Saunders and Miles Byrd. The basketball head coach Brian Dutcher announced on Wednesday afternoon.

Saunders is a 6-8, 220-pound forward who will graduate from Sunnyslope High School in Phoenix, Arizona this year. He’s a 4-star recruit, ranked 115th in his position nationwide and 23rd on Power Forward and 8th in Arizona according to 247Sports, who has a big body and is comfortable both on the block and beyond 3 point line. Saunders can run on the floor, has a quick release buckle and scores points both with his back to the basket and off the jump. He has demonstrated the ability to attack closeouts, handle the ball and finish on contact.

As a junior, the nation’s No. 145 recruit averaged 15.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in 22 games, according to Rivals, according to Maxpreps. Sunnyslope ended the season with a winning streak of 11 games and was 2-1 on the road to the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) Conference 6A Boys Basketball State Championship in 2021, finishing 4th in the state. Saunders has been named to the team at The Arizona Republic All-Arizona.

In the 2019-20 season, Saunders’ second season, Sunnyslope was 23-6, including 9-3 in 5A League action. The team finished the year number 11 in the state. In his freshman year, Saunders played at Rancho Solano Prep in Scottsdale, Arizona, averaging 5.8 points and 3.6 rebounds.

Saunders chose San Diego State over 24 other offerings, including Miami, Notre Dame, South Carolina, St. John’s, and Virginia, and the Mountain West Programs UNLV, New Mexico, Nevada, Fresno State, and San Jose State.

Byrd is a 6-7, 185-pound shooting guard who will graduate from Lincoln High School in Stockton, California this year. A four-star contender according to 247 Sports, Byrd is listed as the No. 162 Recruit, No. 20 Shooting Guard, and No. 15 in California nationwide. The left is the prototypical Aztec shooting guard.

He averaged a team lead of 19.0 points, 3.5 steals and 2.2 blocks in an eight-game 2020-21 season shortened by COVID-19. His 5.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists took second place in the squad.

In a 28-game sophomore campaign, his numbers were 12.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.4 steals per game. For every 32 minutes played, he averaged 17.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.2 steals. Lincoln posted an overall record of 25-4 including 10-2 in the Tri-City Athletic League game and competed in the CIF-Sac Joaquin Section 2020 Division I Boys Basketball Championship. In the combination he shot better than 40 percent from the ground in the last two seasons.

His father, Calvin Byrd, is a retired college basketball player and coach who most recently worked at the University of the Pacific at Stockton.

Byrd picked the Aztecs over ten other programs, including Washington, California, Stanford, Villanova, Saint Mary’s, and Minnesota, and the Mountain West programs in Colorado State, New Mexico, and San Jose State.

San Diego State won its 2021-22 regular season opener against the UC Riverside Highlanders, 66-53, on Tuesday night and will travel to Provo, Utah to meet the Brigham Young Cougars on Friday, November 12th. The tip is set at 7 p.m. MT and will be broadcast on BYUtv.


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