Woolridge played for Washington State the past two seasons, averaging 11.0 points as a sophomore and 7.3 points and 2.7 assists as a junior. He spent his freshman season playing limited minutes off the bench for Kansas.
Woolridge will be eligible immediately in 2014-2015 as he will graduate from Washington State this semester. Royce is from a basketball family. His father, Orlando, played in the NBA, and his brothers Zach (Princeton) and Renaldo (Tennessee and USC) both played Division I basketball.
Grand Canyon played their first season as a member of Division I in 2013-2014.
All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.
To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of the Conference Previews we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.
With so much change (seven schools out, six schools in), how will the upcoming basketball season shake out in the WAC? Well, look no further than defending WAC tournament champion New Mexico State for that answer. Head coach Marvin Menzies welcomes back a guard in Daniel Mullings who’s arguably the best perimeter defender in the WAC and a preseason favorite to take home league Player of the Year honors, and brothers Sim (reigning WAC Rookie of the Year and WAC tournament MVP) and Tanveer Bhullar represent the tallest tandem in college basketball. Sim’s 7-5 while his younger brother is two inches shorter at 7-3.
Picking the Aggies to win the conference is an easy exercise. Figuring out how the remainder of the conference will shake out is an entirely different matter. Utah Valley may be the newcomer best equipped to contend immediately, with seniors Ben Aird (15.1 ppg, 9.0 rpg) and Holton Hunsaker (13.2, 3.1 apg) leading the way for head coach Dick Hunsaker. Seattle, one of the three holdovers, is a team to watch with three of their six newcomers being transfers including guards Emerson Murray (Cal) and Isaiah Umipig (Cal-State Fullerton).
In most leagues losing the reigning league Player of the Year would prohibit a team from contending the following season, but thanks to realignment that won’t be the case for Idaho. Center Kyle Barone is gone but starters Connor Hill (12.1 ppg, 44.4% 3PT) and Stephen Madison (14.1, 4.7 rpg) both return for head coach Don Verlin. Chicago State, which won the Great West tournament and made an appearance in the CollegeInsider.com tournament, returns four starters including forwards Matt Ross (10.1, 6.3) and Quinton Pippen (10.4, 4.2; nephew of Scottie Pippen).
As for the remainder of the conference, Bakersfield will incorporate five players who redshirted last season to go along with guards Brandon Barnes (12.1, 5.3) and Javonte Maynor (10.5 ppg). Grand Canyon, Kansas City and UTPA all welcome new head coaches, with the Antelopes playing their first season as a Division I member as well. The WAC looks a lot different in 2013 than it did a year ago, but look for a familiar face to sit atop the standings come March.
In: Bakersfield, Chicago State, Grand Canyon, UMKC, UTPA and Utah Valley Out: Denver (Summit), Louisiana Tech (C-USA), San Jose State (Mountain West), Texas State (Sun Belt), UT-Arlington (Sun Belt), UTSA (Conference USA), Utah State (Mountain West)
PRESEASON WAC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: G Daniel Mullings (New Mexico State)
Mullings isn’t the type of player who will light up the scoreboard, but he’s the most versatile player in the WAC. As a sophomore he averaged 13.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.3 steals per game for the Aggies, who won their second consecutive WAC tournament crown. And with the Aggies being the clear favorite to win the league this season, Mullings is well-positioned to take home the league’s highest individual honor.
FOUR MORE NAMES TO KNOW:
G/F Quinton Pippen (Chicago State): The nephew of Scottie Pippen, Quinton averaged 10.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game last season. He’ll be productive for a CSU squad that should challenge for a top-half finish in the WAC standings.
F Stephen Madison (Idaho): Reigning WAC POY Kyle Barone is out of eligibility, meaning that Madison’s (14.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg) scoring load will increase this season.
C Ben Aird (Utah Valley): Aird (15.1 ppg, 9.0 rpg) led the Wolverines to the Great West regular season title last season, and he’s a big reason why Utah Valley can contend for the WAC crown.
C Sim Bhullar (New Mexico State): Bhullar hit his stride during the latter stages of the 2012-13 season, winning WAC tournament MVP honors and averaging 10.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game for the year.
PREDICTED FINISH 1. New Mexico State
3. Utah Valley
5. Chicago State
7. Kansas City
8. Grand Canyon
9. Texas-Pan American
Prior to the start of the Mountain West tournament, New Mexico head coach Steve Alford announced that 6-2 guard Demetrius Walker was suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules. Later in March that suspension would turn into Walker having to leave the program, and the fact that he earned his bachelor’s degree allows the Fontana, Calif. native to play next season without having to sit a year.
“We are excited to have a player of Demetrius’ ability that has played at both New Mexico and Arizona State,” Majerle said in the release. “It is good to have him here at GCU, as he brings with him a lot of experience and can score the basketball. He will be big for our team next season having a guy that we can go to.”
Walker played one season at Arizona State before transferring to New Mexico, where he averaged 7.4 points and 2.8 rebounds per game in 2011-12. And the fact that he played some of his best basketball towards the end of the season, reaching double figures in three of New Mexico’s five postseason games (three Mountain West, two NCAA), led many to believe that Walker would be able to take the next step on a team that already had Hugh Greenwood, Tony Snell and Kendall Williams on the perimeter.
But Walker was unable to take that next step, reaching double figures in just one game in 2013 (12 points vs. Nevada on February 2; four double-digit outings in non-conference play) and seeing his last action as a Lobo on February 13 at Fresno State.
Now Walker gets a fresh start at Grand Canyon, which won 23 games in 2012-13 but has to replace leading scorer Joshua Lowery (13.3 ppg). And he’ll get one more night at The Pit, as the Antalopes will visit New Mexico this season.