Kyle Collinsworth

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West Coast Conference Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

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In recent years the regular season champion of the West Coast Conference would arrive in Las Vegas feeling secure about its chances of landing an NCAA tournament bid even if they didn’t managed to grab the league’s automatic bid. Things aren’t as comfortable this time around for either Saint Mary’s or Gonzaga, as their non-conference slates either lacked the challenging games (Saint Mary’s) or quality wins (Gonzaga) needed to provide some breathing room. That, along with the presence of BYU and Pepperdine, should make for an intense “long weekend” at the Orleans Arena, where the WCC will hope that this event can produce two NCAA tournament teams.

The Bracket 

wccbracket

When: March 4-8 (no games Sunday, March 6)

Where: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas

Final: March 8, 9:00 p.m. EST

Favorite: Saint Mary’s

The Gaels surprised many by winning a share of the regular season title, as they were picked to finish fourth in the preseason poll. They’ll be the top seed this week thanks to their season sweep of Gonzaga, and with guards Emmett Naar and WCC Newcomer of the Year Joe Rahon leading the way head coach Randy Bennett has the pieces needed to win the tournament. Forwards Calvin Hermansson and Dane Pineau shouldn’t be overlooked either, as they’re second and third on the team in scoring behind Naar and 6-foot-10 freshman center Evan Fitzner was productive in both wins over Gonzaga (16.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg).

And if they lose?: Gonzaga

Mark Few’s Bulldogs are led by one of the best front court tandems in the country in senior Kyle Wiltjer and sophomore Domantas Sabonis. Wiltjer’s a face-up four with range well beyond the three-point line, thus providing Sabonis with the room he needs to operate from 15 feet and in. The question mark throughout this season has been the development of their perimeter rotation, but there has been progress. Josh Perkins was named to the WCC’s all-freshman team, and Eric McClellan the conference’s best defender. How that group, which includes Silas Melson and Kyle Dranginis, performs will be key for Gonzaga as they look to win the WCC tournament for the fifth time in the last six years.

Other Contenders:

  • BYU: They’ve got the WCC Player of the Year in versatile guard Kyle Collinsworth, and fellow guards Chase Fischer and Nick Emery can fill it up scoring-wise. And even with their ability to put up points, BYU led the WCC in defensive efficiency in conference games per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers.
  • Pepperdine: The Waves can make a claim no other WCC team can make this season: they swept Saint Mary’s. Marty Wilson’s group, led by forward Stacy Davis and guard Jeremy Major, is capable of making a run in Vegas.

WCC Player of the Year: Kyle Collinsworth, BYU

The NCAA’s all-time leader in career triple-doubles (11), Collinsworth is the “straw that stirs the drink” for BYU. In WCC games he ranked in the top five in rebounds (third), assists (first) and steals (first), and at 15.6 points per game the senior ranked 13th in the conference in scoring. At 6-foot-6 he’s a tough matchup for opposing teams from a size standpoint, and his ability to find the likes of Chase Fischer and Nick Emery makes BYU a tough team to slow down offensively.

WCC Coach of the Year: Randy Bennett, Saint Mary’s

Saint Mary’s exceeded expectations this season, going from a team pegged by many as the one likely to fall out of a top three slot to one that grabbed the top seed in the conference tournament. For that Bennett should be praised, as the backcourt of Emmett Naar and Joe Rahon has meshed well and the front court has accounted for the graduation of Brad Waldow as well.

First-Team All-WCC:

  • Kyle Collinsworth, BYU
  • Emmett Naar, Saint Mary’s
  • Stacy Davis, Pepperdine
  • Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga
  • Domantas Sabonis, Gonzaga

CBT Prediction: Saint Mary’s beats Gonzaga in a thriller.

POSTERIZED: BYU’s Kyle Collinsworth takes flight on LMU

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BYU senior guard Kyle Collinsworth has racked up more triple-doubles than any player in the history of Division I college basketball, as he has ten such games to his credit. In addition to being able to impact games in a variety of ways he can also finish with some power, as Loyola Marymount was reminded Thursday night.

No LMU defender looked to close off Collinsworth’s lane to the basket, resulting in the final defender between the BYU guard and the basket getting dunked on and being called for the blocking foul.

College Basketball’s Under The Radar Stars

Kyle Collinsworth (Getty Images)
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Deandre Bembry, St. Joseph’s

The 6-foot-6 small forward does a little bit of everything for the Hawks. His numbers last season: 17.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 3.6 apg and 1.9 spg. There’s a reason that the junior’s been climbing up NBA Draft boards despite the fact that he plays for a St. Joseph’s team that is fairly far removed from the Atlantic 10 title race. Oh, and he may have the best hair in college hoops.

[MORE: Top 100 players | CBT Top 25]

Robert Carter, Maryland

As a sophomore at Georgia Tech, Carter averaged 11.4 points and 8.4 boards. But that was nearly two years — and 25 pounds — ago, and that was also on a bad Georgia Tech team. Carter is now on a very good Maryland team, and he’s going to play a critical role for a group that has a shot at winning a national title. You wouldn’t know that based on the preseason hype, however. Melo Trimble, Jake Layman and Diamond Stone are the three guys with NBA Draft hype entering the season, and the circumstances surrounding Rasheed Sulaimon’s transfer to the Terps make him the more interesting discussion point. But if you talk to people around the Maryland program, Carter may end up being the Terps’ best player.

Kyle Collinsworth, BYU

Collinsworth set a single-season record and tied the NCAA’s career record for triple-doubles last season for the Cougars, finishing with six. He played 33 games, meaning that once every 5.5 games, Collinsworth posted a triple-double. If Collinsworth suited up, there was an 18.2 percent chance that he’d post a triple-double. Think about that for a second. For comparison’s sake, in Kentucky’s illustrious basketball history, they’ve had one triple-double.

One.

Collinsworth had six last season.

Jack Gibbs, Davidson

Bob McKillop had his best post-Steph team at Davidson this past season, and the engine of that group was the 6-foot Gibbs. Just a sophomore last season, Gibbs averaged 16.2 points, 4.8 assists and 3.7 boards with shooting splits of 47.9/42.5/85.6. He’s not Steph Curry — no one is, or ever will be — but he led the Wildcats from being predicted to finish at the bottom of the league to an A-10 title.

RELATED: NBCSports All-Americans | Best Freshman | Breakout Stars

Daniel Hamilton (AP Photo)
Daniel Hamilton (AP Photo)

Daniel Hamilton, UConn

When you think of recent UConn teams, you think of dynamic, personality-laden lead guards. Kemba Walker won a national title and turned the reins over to Shabazz Napier, who, three years later, won a title of his own. Last year, this was Ryan Boatright’s team and this season, Kevin Ollie’s back court includes senior Sterling Gibbs and freshman Jalen Adams. But this season, the best Husky might end up being Hamilton, a 6-foot-7 wins that averaging 10.9 points, 7.6 boards and 3.7 assists as a freshman. Here’s the thing about Hamilton: He entered UConn with the reputation for being a gunner, a player that bordered on selfish who looked for his shot first, second and third. He finished his freshman season leading the team in rebounding — he led the AAC in rebounding during league play, averaging 9.1 boards — and second in assists. He could very well end up being the AAC Player of the Year this season.

Danuel House, Texas A&M

House was one of the biggest surprises in college basketball last season mainly because he was declared immediately eligible for the Aggies three games into the season. Seriously. Billy Kennedy’s club struggled through their first two games at a tournament in Puerto Rico the week before Thanksgiving and won the third game of the event when House played and scored 18 points in 29 minutes. On the season, he averaged 14.8 points, as the former five-star recruit helped lead the Aggies to within a win or two of the NCAA tournament. His return, along with the addition of a talented recruiting class, is a major reason pundits believe A&M can finish second in the SEC.

Hassan Martin, Rhode Island

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better defensive player in college basketball than Martin, a 6-foot-7, 230 pound forward that finished his sophomore season averaging 3.1 blocks. Danny Hurley has stockpiled quite a bit of talent on URI’s roster, with guys like E.C. Matthews, Jared Terrell and Kuran Iverson in the fray, but Martin’s ability to anchor the defense is just as important as any of those three players.

Sheldon McClellan, Miami

McClellan’s career has been played in relative anonymity. He played two years at Texas, transferring after the disappointing 2012-13 season in which the Longhorns lost in the first round of the CBI to Houston. He left for Miami with little fanfare, a part of the exodus that most believed to be addition by subtraction. After sitting out a season in Coral Gables, McClellan put together a terrific year that was hardly noticed. Miami won 25 games, but went to the NIT. Their two bigs wins, at Florida and at Duke, came when the maddeningly inconsistent Angel Rodriguez went bananas. Quietly, McClellan averaged 14.5 points with shooting splits of 48.4/35.8/82.4.

MORE: Top leads guards | Top off guards | Top Wings | Top Bigs

Gary Payton II, Oregon State

The son of … well, you know, “The Mitten” is arguably the best perimeter defender in college basketball this season. That shouldn’t be at all surprising. He’s also a 6-foot-3 senior that averaged 13.4 points, 7.5 boards and 3.2 assists to go along with those 3.1 steals. Junior’s jumper left much to be desired a season ago, as he shot at just 29.3 percent clip from beyond the arc, but he’s still the biggest reason why an Oregon State tournament appearance isn’t completely out of the question this year.

Jarrod Uthoff, Iowa

Coming out of high school, Uthoff was a top 150 recruit that eventually wound up at Wisconsin, redshirting his freshman season with the Badgers. He left the program in somewhat controversial fashion, as Bo Ryan restricted him from transferring to more than 25 schools. He’d end up sitting out another season as a result, meaning that when he finally did suit up for the Hawkeyes in 2013-14, it had been more than two years since he played a meaningful game. This past season, Uthoff played well as Iowa’s second option, averaging 12.4 points and 6.4 boards, but with Aaron White gone, he’s going to be asked to carry much more of the load this year. He’s good enough to do that, meaning he’s a sleeper to be a first-team all-Big Ten player this year.

Taurean Waller-Prince, Baylor

Waller-Prince came off the bench for the Bears last season and ended up as the program’s leading scorer, averaging 13.9 points and 5.6 boards in just 26 minutes while shooting 39.5 percent from three. Prince’s versatility is what makes him so valuable. He’s strong to play the four if needed, but he can also defend on the perimeter, giving Baylor one of the nation’s most physically imposing front lines.

James Webb III, Boise State

I’ve written plenty about Webb this preseason, and it’s because I think he’s going to have a terrific season for the Broncos. The 6-foot-8 redshirt junior was very impressive at the Nike Skills Academy this summer. He’s long and athletic with range out to the three-point line — he should 40.9 percent out there last season — and will play a critical role for the Broncos this season as they try to find a way to overcome the graduation of Derrick Marks.

Ranking the top wings in college basketball

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After ranking the top lead guards and off guards, we move to the wing position.

With more teams moving away from the rigid positions that defined the game of basketball for years, the wing has become a more important role. Nowadays versatility is a trait of many of the nation’s best wings, as they can be used to initiate the offense as either a scorer or distributor.

Without further ado, below are our ranking of the top wings in college basketball. Who’s too high on the last? Who isn’t high enough on the list? Who’d we leave out?

[MORE: Top backcourts | Top frontcourts]

1. Ben Simmons (LSU)

Simmons arrived in Baton Rouge amidst much fanfare and with good reason, as his skill set makes him a player many project to be a high lottery pick in next June’s NBA Draft. The 6-foot-10 Australian will play a “point forward” role for the Tigers, as his ability to initiate offense makes an incredibly difficult matchup for opponents.

2. Denzel Valentine (Michigan State)

Speaking of versatility, Valentine’s a senior who can play any of the three perimeter roles within Tom Izzo’s offense. As a junior Valentine averaged 14.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game, shooting 44.3 percent from the field and 41.6 percent from three. His ability to fill the stat sheet and lead will be key for a Michigan State team looking to earn a second straight Final Four appearance.

3. Jaylen Brown (California)

Brown’s a power wing who rates as one of the top freshmen in the country. At 6-foot-7 he has the size and athleticism needed to fill multiple roles for the Golden Bears, who boast one of the country’s top perimeter rotations. And with those options there will be occasions in which Brown plays as an undersized four in order to force mismatches on the offensive end.

4. Brandon Ingram (Duke)

While Ingram has plenty of skill, he’s a slender 6-foot-9 wing who trends more towards the perimeter than the aforementioned Brown does. Ingram can score at multiple levels, and while he does need to get stronger his offensive skill set will apply pressure to opponents within Duke’s offense.

5. Taurean Waller-Prince (Baylor)

Last season Waller-Prince emerged as one of the nation’s most improved players, averaging 13.9 points and 5.6 rebounds per contest. He took full advantage of increased minutes a season ago, and with fellow senior Rico Gathers Sr., redshirt sophomore Johnathan Motley and junior college transfer Jo Acuil is part of one of the country’s best front court rotations.

RELATED: Top 100 players | Top leads guards | Top off guards | Top Bigs

Taurean Waller-Prince, Getty Images
Taurean Waller-Prince, Getty Images

6. DeAndre Bembry (Saint Joseph’s)

The Preseason Atlantic 10 Player of the Year deserves more pub, as he shouldered a lot of the offensive load for the Hawks last season. Bembry, after starting all 34 games on an NCAA tournament team as a freshman, accounted for 17.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.9 steals per game in 2014-15. Bembry led the Hawks in all four of those categories last season, and could very well duplicate that feat in 2015-16.

7. Justin Jackson (North Carolina)

Jackson’s in line for a breakout season, and his presence is why there isn’t a great deal of concern when it comes to accounting for the departure of J.P. Tokoto. Jackson started 37 games as a freshman, averaging 10.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game and shooting nearly 48 percent from the field. Also ranking third on the team in assists a season ago, Jackson has the ability to find teammates as well as score.

8. Gary Payton II (Oregon State)

The son of “The Glove,” Payton won Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors in his first season in Corvallis. How big of an impact did he have in Wayne Tinkle’s first season as head coach? Payton led the Beavers in scoring, rebounding, steals and blocks and was second in assists. That kind of versatility isn’t all too common, and with Oregon State’s improved depth he could be even better this year.

9. Troy Williams (Indiana)

Averaging 13.0 points per game as a sophomore, Williams led the Hoosiers in rebounding and steals while shooting 54 percent from the field and 74.2 percent from the foul line. While he isn’t much of a perimeter shooter, Williams can knock down mid-range shots and he finishes above the rim with authority. As a slasher he’s a key player who can open things up for Indiana, which has a host of perimeter shooters to call upon.

10. Kyle Collinsworth (BYU)

Collinsworth is one of the most versatile players in the country, and he’s entrusted with the responsibility of running the show for BYU. Collinsworth is tied for the NCAA record for career triple-doubles (six), all of which came last season, and he averaged 13.8 points, 8.7 and 6.0 assists per game in 2014-15. While the loss of Tyler Haws is important, the return of Collinsworth is one reason why BYU is seen as Gonzaga’s biggest threat in the WCC.

  • 11. Daniel Hamilton (Connecticut): The American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year, Hamilton averaged 10.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. And he’ll have even more chances to initiate things offensively this season.
  • 12. Josh Hart (Villanova): Last season Hart emerged as a valuable option for Villanova, averaging 10.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. His shooting percentages from the field and from three were nothing to scoff at either, as the Big East tournament Most Outstanding Player shot 51 percent from the field and 46 percent from three.
  • 13. Jake Layman (Maryland): Layman’s skill isn’t to be questioned, as the 6-foot-8 senior averaged 12.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game while shooting 47 percent from the field and 37.8 percent from three. But with Dez Wells gone, can he step forward as an even more assertive force for a team projected as one of the nation’s best?
  • 14. Dillon Brooks (Oregon): For all of the talk about how Wayne Selden Jr. (Kansas) and Jamal Murray (Kentucky) played this summer, Brooks also played well on the international circuit. And after earning Pac-12 All-Freshman Team honors, he could be poised for a breakout sophomore campaign.
  • 15. Michael Gbinije (Syracuse): “Silent G” is likely to fill a variety of roles for Jim Boeheim as he has the skills needed to play anywhere from the point to the wing. Last season Gbinije averaged 12.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.
  • 16. Tim Quarterman (LSU): Quarterman joins teammate Simmons on this list, and he’s looking to build on a solid sophomore season in Baton Rouge. The 6-foot-5 Quarterman accounted for 11.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and a team-high 4.0 assists per game, doing so despite starting just 14 of the 33 games in which he played.
  • 17. Damion Lee (Louisville): The lone grad transfer on our list, Lee averaged 21.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game at Drexel last season. Given Louisville’s personnel losses, Lee’s abilities as a scorer and defender will be of high importance as the Cardinals look to hold their own in the ACC.
  • 18. Malcolm Hill (Illinois): Hill’s a player who emerged as Illinois’ most efficient offensive option last season, averaging 14.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest as a sophomore. He’s an all-conference caliber player, and Hill could very well earn those honors this season.
  • 19. Dwayne Bacon (Florida State): The 6-foot-6 Bacon is the crown jewel of one of the nation’s top recruiting classes, and with his athleticism and scoring ability the Oak Hill Academy product should have an immediate impact in Tallahassee.
  • 20. Roosevelt Jones (Butler): Jones’ (12.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.7 apg) return from a broken wrist that sidelined him for the entire 2013-14 season was a big reason why the Bulldogs not only reached the NCAA tournament but nearly eliminated Notre Dame in the round of 32.

Others Considered: Malik Pope (San Diego State), Trevon Bluiett (Xavier), Isaac Copeland (Georgetown)

WCC Preview: Gonzaga, BYU remain at the top

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Beginning in October and running up through November 13th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2015-2016 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we are previewing the West Coast Conference.

The West Coast Conference sent two teams to the NCAA tournament last season in Gonzaga, which fell to eventual national champion Duke in the Elite Eight, and BYU. Another multi-bid year seems likely in 2015-16, but there are some questions to be answered as well. Both of the league’s marquee teams lose key contributors on the perimeter, and while there’s room for optimism in Spokane and Provo, the same can be said for a Pepperdine team that returns all five starters. While the favorites seem clear, the WCC race could potentially offer up some surprises as well.

FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW:

1. Gonzaga will have to replace a large portion of its perimeter rotation: The top three contributors from a backcourt that helped lead Mark Few’s team to a school-record 35 wins have all moved on, as Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell Jr. and Byron Wesley are out of eligibility. Into those roles will step players such as seniors Eric McClellan and Kyle Dranginis, sophomore Silas Melson and redshirt freshman Josh Perkins. The good news for Gonzaga: they’re loaded in the front court. The bad news: their three best players (Kyle Wiltjer, Domas Sabonis and Przemek Karnowski) likely cannot be on the floor at the same time.

2. BYU has to account for the graduation of Tyler Haws: The Cougars return three starters from last season’s WCC runner-up squad, led by an NCAA record-holder (most career triple-doubles) in Kyle Collinsworth, and the front court’s healthy after struggling with injuries. But Dave Rose will need to account for the loss of Tyler Haws, who left Provo as the program’s all-time leading scorer. Among those who will look to fill that void are Chase Fischer and Nick Emery, the latter returning from a two-year LDS mission. Haws became of the best scorers in the country after taking his mission. Can Fischer or Emery follow in those footsteps?

Kyle Collinsworth (Getty Images)
Kyle Collinsworth (Getty Images)

3. There’s just one coaching change in the WCC: The lone change occurred at San Diego, where alum Lamont Smith has returned to take over following the firing of Bill Grier. Smith will have to account for the graduation of the program’s all-time leaders in scoring (Johnny Dee), assists and steals (Christopher Anderson for both).

4. Saint Mary’s has a lot to replace from last season: The Gaels returnees made a total of 16 starts last season (sophomore guard Emmett Naar had nine), and five of the team’s top six scorers are gone. The most notable departure is forward Brad Waldow, a first team all-conference selection who led the team in points, rebounds and blocks. That’s a lot of production for Randy Bennett to have to replace.

5. Pepperdine returns all five starters from last season: Head coach Marty Wilson has a talented group to work with, led by All-WCC forward Stacy Davis, and this could be the year in which they crack the Gonzaga/BYU/Saint Mary’s triumvirate. With both depth and experience, and an emerging All-WCC caliber player in sophomore guard Shawn Olden, the Waves are a team to be respected.

MORE: 2015-16 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

COACH’S TAKE:

  • Favorite: “It’s Gonzaga. They’re going to be young in the backcourt, but they’ve got a lot of talent and experience in the front court, and Mark’s program has just been so consistent over the years.”
  • Sleeper: “Everyone’s going to tell you Pepperdine because they won 18 games last year and the whole team’s back. That’s the natural selection based on their success, the type of team they have and the fact that they’re built around a potential Player of the Year candidate in Stacy Davis. When you have guys like that, guys that have been around, they certainly have the opportunity to take that step this year.”
  • Best player: “I think it’s a tossup between Kyle Wiltjer and Kyle Collinsworth. I would have voted for Wiltjer for Player of the Year last year but he wasn’t on the ballot. But I’d say that one of those two is the best player in our league.”
  • Most underrated player: “I don’t know if you can call Sabonis underrated, but to me he’s the guy who has the best chance to have the longest pro career based on his efficiency, his footwork and size. I think he’s kinda caught behind two other good players in Wiltjer and Karnowski. But I think [the most underrated player] will show itself early, because there are plenty of opportunities for some of these guys to establish themselves.”

PRESEASON WCC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga

Wiltjer’s first season on the court for Gonzaga was a highly productive one, as he was named the WCC’s top newcomer and made some All-America lists as well. Wiltjer accounted for 16.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, shooting better than 54 percent from the field and 44.6 percent from three.

THE REST OF THE WCC FIRST TEAM:

  • Jared Brownridge, Santa Clara: Averaged 15.9 points per game as a sophomore, making 93 three-pointers (2nd in the WCC) as well.
  • Kyle Collinsworth, BYU: One of the nation’s most versatile players, Collinsworth was second in the WCC in both rebounding (8.7 rpg) and assists (6.0 apg) last season.
  • Stacy Davis, Pepperdine: WCC Rookie of the Year as a freshman in 2012-13, Davis has been a first team All-WCC selection in each of the last two seasons.
  • Domas Sabonis, Gonzaga: Sabonis (9.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg) led the WCC in field goal percentage (66.8) as a freshman, and he’ll see more playing time this year.

FIVE MORE NAMES TO KNOW:

  • Przemek Karnowski, Gonzaga
  • Alec Wintering, Portland
  • Emmett Naar, Saint Mary’s
  • Chase Fischer, BYU
  • Tim Derksen, San Francisco

BREAKOUT STAR: Chase Fischer, BYU

After transferring in from Wake Forest, Fischer had a solid first season at BYU as he averaged 13.2 points per game. With Tyler Haws out of eligibility Fischer will have the opportunity to do even more offensively. During the team’s trip to Spain this summer Fischer averaged a team-best 17.5 points per game.

COACH UNDER PRESSURE: Kerry Keating, Santa Clara

After winning the CBI in 2013, the Broncos have won 14 games in each of the last two seasons. Injuries have been an issue at times, but two winning seasons in eight at the helm may lead to fans asking some questions of the head coach. That being said, this year’s group led by junior guard Jared Brownridge could be the ones who turn things around.

ON SELECTION SUNDAY WE’LL BE SAYING … : Does Gonzaga have the guard play needed to make a run deep into March?

I’M MOST EXCITED ABOUT : Seeing whether or not Pepperdine (or someone else) can crack the “big three” of Gonzaga, BYU and Saint Mary’s.

FIVE NON-CONFERENCE GAMES TO CIRCLE ON YOUR CALENDAR:

  • December 5, Arizona at Gonzaga
  • December 2, BYU at Utah
  • November 19, Pepperdine at UCLA
  • December 12, Saint Mary’s at California
  • December 5, Boise State at Portland

ONE TWITTER FEED TO FOLLOW: @WestCoastConvo

PREDICTED FINISH

1. Gonzaga: The front court is one of the nation’s best. How far Few’s Bulldogs go nationally will depend upon the progression of their backcourt.
2. BYU: No more Tyler Haws, but one of the nation’s most versatile players (Kyle Collinsworth) returns to lead the way as a senior.
3. Pepperdine: After winning 18 games last season the Waves should be even better with one of the program’s all-time greats in Davis leading the way.
4. Saint Mary’s: The Gaels have finished in the top half of the WCC every year since 2003, but Randy Bennett has a lot to replace from last year’s 21-win team.
5. Portland: Portland picked up some valuable postseason experience in the CIT, and the return of junior Alec Wintering and senior Bryce Pressley helps matters as well.
6. Santa Clara: The Broncos lost two of their top three scorers in Brandon Clark and Denzel Johnson, but Jared Brownridge returns to lead a young but talented crop of guards.
7. Pacific: Ron Verlin welcomes back three of his top four scorers from last season, led by junior guard T.J. Wallace. This should be the Tigers’ most competitive team since they re-entered the WCC in 2013.
8. San Francisco: Tim Derksen and Devin Watson combined to average 21 points per game last season, but the Dons lost three productive starters and have a total of five returning letterwinners.
9. San Diego: Losing Anderson and Dee really hurts, but players such as Jito Kok and Duda Sanadze will help Lamont Smith in his coaching debut.
10. Loyola Marymount: Losing talented guard Evan Payne (transferred to Long Beach State) hurts for a team in need of offensive firepower.