Gipson’s ability as a perimeter shooter and defender will help Loyola Marymount as they look to make the climb up the WCC standings in the future.
Gipson is LMU’s first verbal commitment in the Class of 2016, and given the presence of four upperclassmen adding young talent to the perimeter rotation is something they needed to do. LMU has just one perimeter senior (David Humphries), and its two underclassmen (Munis Tutu and Jeff McClendon) are both freshmen.
BYU’s Kyle Collinsworth tallies NCAA-record fifth triple-double of the season
The biggest question mark for BYU before the start of this season was how quickly would point guard Kyle Collinsworth be back to full strength. The Cougars were better offensively last season with Collinsworth filling the role of primary playmaker, but when he went down with a torn ACL in the WCC title game the Cougars struggled in that game and in their NCAA tournament loss to Oregon.
How effective would Collinsworth be after spending the summer rehabbing from that injury?
Not only has Collinsworth returned to full strength, but he’s also been one of the most versatile players in college basketball. Saturday afternoon in the Cougars’ 87-68 win at Loyola Marymount, Collinsworth tallied 23 points, 12 rebounds and ten assists (with just one turnover) for his fifth triple-double of the season. As a result, Collinsworth is now the Division I record holder for most triple-doubles in a single season.
“He was special tonight,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said of the 6-foot-6 junior. “It was from the very tip, the very first possession, he was determined to give the effort we all needed in this game.”
Prior Saturday Collinsworth was one of five players in Division I history to have four triple-doubles in a season. Drexel’s Michael Anderson (1985-86), UCSB’s Brian Shaw (1987-88), California’s Jason Kidd (1993-94) and UMass’ Stephane Lasme (2006-07) were the other four.
And with five more regular season games to play before postseason play (WCC tournament and either the NCAA tournament or NIT), Collinsworth is more than capable of adding another triple-double (or more) to his record.
POSTERIZED: Don’t jump with Loyola Marymount’s Evan Payne like Ron Baker did (VIDEO)
If you’re a fan of college hoops and you aren’t familiar with Loyola Marymount’s Evan Payne, then it’s time for a crash course. The high-flying, high-scoring sophomore guard is averaging 21.7 points per game on pretty efficient shooting splits so far this season and he’s also been known to soar through the air for the occasional big dunk. They’re usually fun to watch since Payne is 6-foot-1.
I guess Ron Baker didn’t get the memo because he tried to jump with Payne during the Lions’ game against Wichita State in the Diamond Head Classic. Loyola Marymount probably won’t win many games this season, but Payne is at least a lot of fun to watch.
After seeing their streak of 11 straight WCC regular season titles (shared or outright) come to an end in 2011-12, Mark Few’s Gonzaga Bulldogs have won the last two conference titles. And given the talent that’s in Spokane, the expectation in the WCC is that the Bulldogs will extend their new streak to three in 2014-15. But to think that Gonzaga won’t be challenged at all in the WCC would be a mistake, with there being multiple teams capable of running with Bulldogs, including BYU, San Francisco and Saint Mary’s. In recent years the WCC has developed into a conference that will receive multiple NCAA tournament bids, and that should once again be the case in 2014-15.
FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW:
1. Just one coaching change in the WCC: Only one program changed coaches at the end of last season, with alumnus and experienced coach Mike Dunlap replacing Max Good at Loyola Marymount. Dunlap has experience as a head coach at both the Division I, filling in for Steve Lavin at St. John’s, and NBA levels. But this job sets up to be a difficult one, with Anthony Ireland out of eligibility and WCC All-Freshman Team selection Gabe Levin deciding to transfer.
2. Kyle Collinsworth returns from a torn ACL: One of the biggest pre-NCAA tournament storylines in March was BYU’s loss of Collinsworth, who suffered a torn ACL in the WCC title game against Gonzaga. BYU was still in the field of 68 but they were without their best playmaker in the loss to Oregon. How close to 100 percent is Collinsworth? That’s the key question entering this season as BYU looks to dethrone Gonzaga, even with this potentially being Dave Rose’s deepest teams.
3. Gonzaga returns three starters, and they add some very good pieces as well: The Bulldogs’ most important personnel loss was center Sam Dower, but they’ve got more than enough talent to account for his graduation. Guards Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. return for their senior season, and they’ll be joined by newcomers such as USC transfer Byron Wesley, Vanderbilt transfer Eric McClellan (eligible in January) and freshmen Josh Perkins and Silas Melson. As for the front court, Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis pair up with starting big man Przemek Karnowski. Depth, talent, experience…Gonzaga has it all.
4. Nine of the league’s top ten scorers return: The only loss in this area is Loyola Marymount PG Anthony Ireland, who finished the season second in the WCC in scoring. Tyler Haws leads the way amongst WCC returning scorers, as he averaged 23.2 ppg last season, and Santa Clara guards Jared Brownridge (17.2 ppg) and Brandon Clark (16.9) were the highest-scoring tandem in the conference.
5. Transfers will have an significant impact on the conference title race: Given Gonzaga’s stature this goes without saying, with Wesley and Wiltjer both factoring into the rotation for Mark Few. But they aren’t the only contender looking to transfers for production. BYU will have Chase Fischer (Wake Forest) competing for minutes in a deep backcourt, and Saint Mary’s will expect significant contributions from Joe Coleman (Minnesota), Aaron Bright (Stanford) and Desmond Simmons (Washington).
PRESEASON WCC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Tyler Haws, BYU
In the two seasons since he’s returned from his LDS mission, Haws has established himself as one of the nation’s best shooters (and scorers). Last season Haws accounted for 23.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, shooting 46.3% from the field, 40.4% from three and 88.1% from the foul line. Having won WCC Player of the Year honors last season, it would come as no surprise if Haws repeated that feat as a senior.
THE REST OF THE ALL-WCC FIRST TEAM:
Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga: One of the nation’s best shooters, Pangos averaged 14.4 points, 3.6 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game as a junior.
Stacy Davis, Pepperdine: Davis averaged 15.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in WCC play, earning first team All-WCC honors.
Brad Waldow, Saint Mary’s: Waldow’s been a mainstay in Moraga the last couple of years, and as a junior he shot 56.5% from the field and posted eight double-doubles.
Jared Brownridge, Santa Clara: Brownridge was one of the most productive freshmen in the nation in 2013-14, averaging 17.2 points per game and winning WCC Newcomer of the Year honors.
FIVE MORE NAMES TO KNOW:
Kyle Collinsworth, BYU
Kruize Pinkins, San Francisco
Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga
Jeremy Major, Pepperdine
Johnny Dee, San Diego
BREAKOUT STAR: Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga
The name is well-known based upon his time at Kentucky, but Wiltjer’s role will be far different in his first season as a Bulldog. Wiltjer will be a primary scoring option for Gonzaga, and that season spent on the sidelines should benefit him greatly. Wiltjer wasn’t placed on the WCC preseason all-conference team which is understandable given the fact that he didn’t play last year, but that won’t be the case in March.
COACH UNDER PRESSURE: Eric Reveno, Portland
After winning 19 games or more in three straight seasons (2008-11) the Pilots have finished below .500 in each of the last three campaigns. The good news for Portland is that their top two scorers, preseason All-WCC selection Thomas Van Der Mars and guard Kevin Bailey, return from last year’s group that finished 15-16 (7-11 WCC). Another piece of good news for the Pilots: they won’t play more than three straight road games in league play. Last season, Reveno’s Pilots played their last four regular season games on the road.
ON SELECTION SUNDAY WE’LL BE SAYING … : Gonzaga looks poised to make a run deep into the NCAA tournament.
I’M MOST EXCITED ABOUT : The depth at the guard positions in this league. There are a lot of talented perimeter players in the WCC this season, which will make for some fun nights in conference play.
FIVE NON-CONFERENCE GAMES TO CIRCLE ON YOUR CALENDAR:
December 6, Gonzaga at Arizona
November 24, BYU vs. San Diego State (Maui Invitational)
1. Gonzaga: The Bulldogs are loaded with offensive weapons, but how far the go in March will depend upon the progress made defensively.
2. BYU: Tyler Haws is one of the best players in the country, and Dave Rose has what could be his deepest team at BYU.
3. Saint Mary’s: Graduate transfers Aaron Bright (Stanford) and Desmond Simmons (Washington) bring additional experience, as does former Minnesota guard Joe Coleman.
4. San Francisco: Rex Walters lost his two most productive players in Cole Dickerson and Avry Holmes, but the Dons won’t lack for talent.
5. Portland: The tandem of Van Der Mars and Bailey could potentially push Portland into the top half of the WCC.
6. San Diego: The Toreros have one of the better backcourt duos on the west coast in Christopher Anderson and Johnny Dee, but they need Jito Kok to bounce back from an underwhelming sophomore campaign.
7. Pepperdine: Stacy Davis receives a lot of the pub when it comes to the Waves, but guard Jeremy Major can play as well.
8. Santa Clara: Guards Jared Brownridge and Brandon Clark are the leaders for a young team that could still be one year away from a major jump in the standings.
9. Pacific: The Tigers were a senior-laden group in their WCC debut. That won’t be the case this season, with sophomore guard T.J. Wallace among those expected to step forward.
10. Loyola Marymount: Given the personnel losses and the transition to a new system, this could be a tough year for the Lions in Mike Dunlap’s first season at his alma mater.
Despite averaging 5.5 points and 3.8 rebounds in just under 14 minutes of action per contest last season, Pensacola (Florida) State College 7-footer Rozelle Nix has emerged as one of the top junior college players in the country heading into his sophomore season. With his size Nix has been the focus of multiple schools on the recruiting trail, and Thursday it was reported that he’s cut his list to three schools.
According to Brad Winton of JucoRecruiting.com, Nix’s finalists are Loyola Marymount, Pittsburgh and South Carolina. Nix recently visited South Carolina, and according to Winton’s report he’s scheduled a visit to Pittsburgh for the weekend of October 24.
ICYMI: Rozelle Nix (7'0/2015/Pensacola) will decide between Pitt, South Carolina & Loyola Marymount later this month. Visits Pitt Oct 24
Each of the three programs is in a position where Nix’s size would be a welcome addition to the program. In the case of Loyola Marymount, Mike Dunlap’s Lions are very young in the front court with senior Godwin Okonji and junior Marin Mornar being the lone upperclassmen. Pittsburgh loses senior Derrick Randall at the end of the 2014-15 season, with junior Joseph Uchebo and sophomore Mike Young among the front court players who will have eligibility remaining beyond the upcoming campaign.
South Carolina loses Carlton Geathers at the conclusion of the 2014-15 season, with Frank Martin having three juniors, a sophomore and a freshman amongst the players in his current front court rotation. The Gamecocks have also received a verbal commitment from Top 100 power forward Chris Silva.
Despite landing a verbal commitment from Chris Silva earlier this month, the South Carolina Gamecocks are still working to add more pieces to the front court. One option is Pensacola (Florida) State College 7-footer Rozelle Nix, who was on campus for an official visit this weekend. And in a story written by Phil Kornblut of SportsTalkSC.com, Nix spoke highly of Frank Martin’s program and how his visit went.
“[Martin] said if I came there I would make a huge impact on the program,” Nix told Kornblut. “My physicality and my work ethic, he said I could be ten times better if I cam here. The practice area is pretty good and the arena is pretty amazing. It’s huge. The players are a cool group of guys. They have a great atmosphere. It’s a family environment. I could see myself here but I’ve got to wait until after the season.”
As a freshman at Pensacola, Nix averaged 5.5 points and 3.8 rebounds in just under 14 minutes of action per game. Nix is expected to have a greater role this season, with three of the top four rebounders from last year’s Pensacola squad having moved on.
According to Kornblut’s report, South Carolina, Loyola Marymount and Pittsburgh are atop Nix’s list at this time. The center doesn’t plan on making a decision as to where he’ll complete his college career until the spring.