Pepperdine Waves

VIDEO: Pepperdine rewards Jake Johnson with a scholarship

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The walk-on experience isn’t an easy one as those players do everything their teammates on scholarship do, with little more than a few minutes towards the end of blowouts serving as a reward. But every year many continue to work as hard as they can, pushing their teammates to succeed with the hope of at some point earning a scholarship themselves.

For Pepperdine senior forward Jake Johnson, that goal became a reality on Wednesday. Head coach Marty Wilson announced to the team that Johnson would be placed on scholarship, with Johnson’s teammates mobbing him shortly thereafter. Walk-ons may not see the court much in games, but the work they do in practices to help prepare for games is invaluable.

Above is video of Wilson informing the team at practice that Johnson would be on scholarship for the remainder of the season. Johnson’s played a total of 14 minutes in two games this season, averaging two points and one rebound per game.

h/t Bleacher Report

Pepperdine signs head coach Marty Wilson to five-year contract extension

Marty Wilson
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Picked to finish tied for seventh place in the WCC’s preseason poll, the Pepperdine Waves exceeded expectations in 2014-15. Marty Wilson’s team won 18 games, finishing fourth in the WCC and earning the program’s first postseason berth (CBI) since 2002. And with all five starters, led by forward Stacy Davis, returning to Malibu the 2015-16 season could be one in which the Waves take a step forward in the WCC.

With that being the case the school announced Thursday that it has come to terms with Wilson on a five-year contract extension. Wilson, who played at Pepperdine and is approaching his 19th season as either a player or coach at the school, now has a deal that will run through the 2020-21 campaign.

Pepperdine’s win total has increased in each of Wilson’s four seasons at the helm, and last year they proved to be one of the WCC’s best defensive teams despite losing 2014 WCC Defensive Player of the Year Brendan Lane to graduation.

In WCC games Pepperdine ranked second in the conference in scoring defense (61.2 ppg allowed) and field goal percentage defense (41.9 percent) and first in three-point percentage defense (28.2 percent). In all games Pepperdine ranked second nationally in three-point percentage defense, limiting opponents to 27 percent from beyond the arc.

Joining Davis (15.7 ppg, 7.8 rpg), one of the top players in the WCC, as returning starters are fellow forward Jett Raines (10.6, 5.1) and guards Jeremy Major (8.7, 3.4, 3.6 apg), Shawn Olden (9.2, 2.4) and Atif Russell (5.6, 2.9). The Waves also return key reserves Lamond Murray Jr. and Amadi Udenyi (12 letterwinners in total return).

WCC Midseason Catchup: No. 8 Gonzaga leads the way

Gonzaga v UCLA
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Kevin Pangos and the Bulldogs are off to an 11-1 start (Getty Images)

College basketball’s non-conference season is coming to a close, and to help you shake off post-holiday haze and the hangover of losing in your fantasy football playoffs, we’ll be providing you with some midseason primers to get you caught up on all the nation’s most important conferences.

MORE: All of CBT’s Conference Catchups

Today we’ll be taking a look at the WCC, with conference play set to begin Saturday.

MIDSEASON WCC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Tyler Haws, BYU

The 10-3 Cougars have four players averaging double figures, with one of the nation’s best scorers in Haws leading the way. Averaging 22.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, Haws is shooting 48.6% from the field, 41 percent from three and 88.6% from the foul line.

THE ALL-WCC FIRST TEAM

  • Tyler Haws, BYU
  • Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga: Few transfers in America have been as productive as Wiltjer (16.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg) has been for the Bulldogs.
  • Brad Waldow, Saint Mary’s: Waldow’s averaging 21.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game, shooting 55.5% from the field.
  • Stacy Davis, Pepperdine: Davis (16.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2.2 apg) is a big reason why the Waves are off to a 7-3 start.
  • Kyle Collinsworth, BYU: Averaging 14.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game, Collinsworth is the WCC’s most versatile player.

THREE THINGS WE’VE LEARNED

1. Gonzaga should be respected as a Final Four contender. Mark Few’s Bulldogs are ranked eighth nationally with an 11-1 record, with their lone defeat coming in overtime at No. 3 Arizona. Gonzaga’s front court, which features Wiltjer, Przemek Karnowski and Domantas Sabonis, has been very good and the addition of Byron Wesley on the wing has helped as well. Add in senior Kevin Pangos, and the Bulldogs enter league play with five players averaging at least ten points per game.

2. Anson Winder’s been an impact reserve for BYU. To this point in the season Winder has been the most improved player in the WCC, as he’s gone from averaging 6.5 points and 1.8 rebounds per game in 2013-14 to 14.7 points and 4.2 rebounds per contest for the Cougars. And after reaching double figures in ten games last season, Winder’s already done so in 11 of BYU’s 12 games in 2014-15. Haws and Collinsworth are going to do the “heavy lifting” for BYU offensively, but the production of Winder and Chase Fischer (13.7 ppg) has been important for Dave Rose’s squad.

3. Offensive balance will continue to be key for Portland. Eric Reveno’s Pilots are off to a 9-3 start to the season, and one reason for the start has been their balance. Four starters, led by guards Alec Wintering (11.7 ppg) and Kevin Bailey (11.5), are averaging at least 10.2 points per game. However Bailey’s missed time with a left foot injury, and it remains to be seen just how long the Pilots will play without their sixth man. Until then, freshman D’Marques Tyson (8.3 ppg) will be asked to step forward in his reserve role.

THREE STORY LINES TO FOLLOW

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BYU guard Tyler Haws (Getty Images)

1. Gonzaga’s point guard depth. With Josh Perkins (broken jaw) out since late November and possibly redshirting, Pangos has spent even more time on the ball. With his experience having Pangos run the show is no problem at all, but who steps forward to give him a rest or allow Pangos to look for his offense off the ball on occasion? One thing to keep in mind here is the addition of Vanderbilt transfer Eric McClellan, who becomes eligible in early January. In 12 games at Vanderbilt last season, McClellan averaged 14.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.

2. The development of BYU’s front court. This became even more important when Nate Austin went down with a torn hamstring, thus leaving the Cougars without much in the way of experience in the paint. Players such as Luke Worthington, Isaac Neilson and Corbin Kaufusi have been asked to step forward, and they’ve all had their moments in the games since Austin’s injury. Austin’s numbers (3.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg) don’t jump off the page but he is BYU’s best big man when it comes to rebounding (Kyle Collinsworth leads all Cougars with 8.1 rpg), so the sooner he returns the better.

3. How many NCAA tournament bids will the WCC receive? Gonzaga’s a lock barring an epic collapse, and BYU looks to be in solid shape as well with their home win over Stanford looking better thanks to the Cardinal winning at Texas. But can the WCC earn more bids? Saint Mary’s has a win at Creighton on its resume, and they’ve also defeated two teams in New Mexico State and UC Irvine that should contend for their respective league titles, but that loss to Northern Arizona doesn’t help matters.

THREE PREDICTIONS

1. Gonzaga loses no more than three conference games for the 17th consecutive season. The Bulldogs will be challenged in conference play, especially on the road with a game at BYU opening things up Saturday. But this is a rather safe prediction to make given their track record. And they’ll once again win the WCC regular season title in the process.

2. Pepperdine will finish in the top half of the WCC. The Waves haven’t shot the ball as well as they would like, ranking eighth in field goal percentage and ninth in three-point percentage. But they’ve been good defensively, which is an important development for a team looking to account for the graduation of WCC Defensive POY Brendan Lane. Look for Stacy Davis and company to finish higher than seventh, which is what the league coaches predicted in October.

3. The WCC gets two NCAA tournament bids. While the story line to follow leaves open the door for Saint Mary’s, two bids seems likely for the WCC with Gonzaga and BYU being the recipients. Will Gonzaga have a shot at earning a one-seed for the second time in program history? By the time we get to late February, that may be the biggest NCAA tournament-related question for the WCC.