San Diego State University men's basketball team with Mountain West Championship trophy

The Longest Timeout

The COVID-19 pandemic brought a historic men’s basketball season to an abrupt end. Catch up with a few Aztec standouts as they await their next tipoff.

By Ryan Schuler

June 15, 2020

The 2019-20 San Diego State University men’s basketball season provided Aztecs fans with memories to last a lifetime. The longest undefeated streak in the nation (26-0), The Map, Aztec For Life Kawhi Leonard’s jersey retirement, the Mountain West Tournament regular-season championship.

The Aztecs rose from unranked at the start of the season to the No. 4 team in the nation on Jan. 20, before tying their program-best year-end ranking at No. 6 in the final Associated Press (AP) poll. Guard Malachi Flynn was named the Mountain West Player of the Year and picked up second-team NCAA Consensus All-American and AP All-American honors. Head Coach Brian Dutcher was named the Mountain West Coach of the Year and USA Today’s National Coach of the Year.

If only we had a chance to see how far the team would have gone in the NCAA Tournament, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nearly three months following the conclusion of the season, 360 caught up with several members of the team, including Flynn, to discuss how they are coping during the pandemic, their reflections on the season and their future plans.

SDSU men's basketball player, Matt Mitchell

Matt Mitchell. Photo by Raymond Gorospe, courtesy of

Matt Mitchell

A Decision to Make

Junior forward Matt Mitchell, who averaged 12.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game en route to being named to the All-Mountain West Conference First Team, was among the many bright spots of this year’s team

Splitting his time between San Diego and hometown Riverside during the pandemic, Mitchell continues to train as he navigates the NBA Draft process.

“Right now, I’m just trying to keep my body right to be in the best possible shape when basketball comes back,” Mitchell says.

Mitchell, who declared for the NBA Draft in late April, has a decision to make: take the jump to the NBA or return to SDSU for his senior season. Mitchell says he’ll likely decide in late June after he has had the opportunity to speak with NBA teams.

“It’s surreal,” Mitchell says. “Something I’ve always dreamed of as a kid and to know I’m this close, it’s within my grasp. It’s that ‘go get it’ feeling. My family has kept me level-headed and grounded, and the coaching staff has been very open with me. If I decide to leave or stay, I know they will be supportive.”

Mitchell is proud of the magical season the Aztecs had, despite its abrupt ending.

“I think we would have made a strong run at the national championship,” he says. “We had a great group of guys, on the court and off the court. The way we moved as one—it was a blessing. We’ll look back and remember this season years down the line.” 

Malachi Flynn

The NBA Awaits

The catalyst for SDSU’s incredible season, Malachi Flynn became just the third Aztec to be named a consensus second-team All-American, joining Kawhi Leonard (2011) and Michael Cage (1984). He was also named the Mountain West Player of the Year and a first-team All-Mountain West performer in both the coaches and media polls after averaging 17.6 points, 5.1 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game this season.

At home in Tacoma, Washington, Flynn continues to train in preparation for the NBA Draft, postponed due to the pandemic. At a time when NBA prospects would normally be busy with NBA workouts and speaking with teams, the draft process has been adjusted.

“It has been quiet, but I think it will pick up a bit,” Flynn says. “I’m talking to my agents right now, but we’ll start doing interviews with teams soon. But not really much right now.”

The downtime has allowed Flynn to spend more time with family, something he is thankful for.

“Just being able to enjoy time with my family has definitely been great,” he says.

Looking back, Flynn is proud of the season he and his teammates had, and points to the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational championship as a pivotal moment.

“We came ready to play against some very good teams,” says Flynn, who was named tournament most valuable player. “Looking back at that tournament and how good we were, we were able to build on that and win 26 in a row. That was a moment when we realized how good we could be.”

SDSU men's basketball player, Malachi Flynn

Malachi Flynn. Photo by Raymond Gorospe, courtesy of

SDSU men's basketball player, Jordan Schakel

Jordan Schakel. Photo by Raymond Gorospe, courtesy of

Jordan Schakel

Getting Ready for Next Season

Jordan Schakel’s clutch shooting helped fuel the Aztecs to 30-2 overall record and 26-0 start to the season and earned him a spot on the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational All-Tournament Team.

A staple in the SDSU starting lineup, the junior forward is set to return for his senior season and provide the Aztecs with veteran leadership.

In the meantime, he’s been training as much as possible at his home in Los Angeles. With gyms closed, Schakel has turned to a popular resource from the past to train.

“It was brought to my attention that we had P90X DVDs in the garage,” he says. “I bought some [resistance] bands and have been doing those workouts every day. I follow that up with a run or bike ride then do dribbling drills in the garage, just to do something basketball-related. It has been working out well.”

Schakel can’t help but wonder what could have been if the team had gotten to play at the NCAA Tournament but credits the coaching staff with helping players process the abrupt cancellation.

“The coaches spoke to each of us individually and we had team meetings,” he says. “They did what they could, but at the end of the day, it was just a sad situation that we had to get through.”

Schakel says he is thankful to have been a part of this team—and season.

“To go 30-2, at the end of the day, we know what we did was special,” Schakel says. “Everyone had such a good relationship with one another that we’ll share for the rest of our lives.”

Banner photograph by Raymond Gorospe, courtesy of