2020-21 West Coast Conference basketball preview

I know, it’s Gonzaga every year in the West Coast Conference. But if you leave it out of conference previews, Bulldog fans will be very upset. Not only are Gonzaga fans very passionate about their basketball team, they will also defend the conference to no end because all the rest of the teams need to do good so the Bulldogs aren’t in question about not getting a one seed. Jokes aside, Gonzaga has a 99% chance of getting a No. 1 seed this year no matter how the conference does.

Mark Pope will have BYU competitive and Randy Bennett will do the same with Saint Mary’s. When was the last time the Gaels didn’t finish in the top three of the West Coast Conference? It’s been a while. Same goes for BYU. The Cougars lost quite a bit of scoring, but they return two starters in Alex Barcello and Kolby Lee. BYU is getting a nice transfer in Matt Haarms, the big guy from Purdue. It also has Brandon Averette from Utah Valley and Oklahoma State. And BYU has three three-star recruits.

Saint Mary’s lost a lot too, but it’s returning Dan Fotu and Tommy Kuhse. The Gaels have a four-star recruit and a pair of three-star recruits. There shouldn’t be a reason not to put them two and three in conference, but other teams are getting better. Pacific is improving with Damon Stoudamire. San Francisco has two guys averaging over 10 points per game. Pepperdine and Santa Clara are returning four starters. San Diego and Loyola-Marymount always like to make things interesting, and my guy Terry Porter is still at Portland.

Gonzaga has an All-American candidate in Corey Kispert. Joel Ayayi can do a little bit of everything. Drew Timme was everyone’s favorite last year when Killian Tillie couldn’t go. Anton Watson, Pavel Zakharov and Martynas Arlauskas were all top-100 recruits last season. Omur Ballo redshirted but was a top-100 recruit as well. Aaron Cook is a grad transfer from Southern Illinois who has averaged over eight points per game over his college career along with almost two boards and over two assists. Not to mention Gonzaga’s favorite recruit ever, Jalen Suggs. He’s a top-10 recruit at 6-foot-5, 185 pounds who everyone thought was going to change his mind at the last minute and not go to Gonzaga, but he’s still there.

Preseason predictions

1 Gonzaga
3 Saint Mary’s
4 Pacific
5 San Francisco
6 Pepperdine
7 Santa Clara
8 Portland
9 San Diego
10 Loyola-Marymount

First team

G Colbey Ross, Pepperdine
G Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga
F Corey Kispert, Gonzaga
F Eli Scott, Loyola-Marymount
F Kessler Edwards, Pepperdine

Second team

G Joel Ayayi, Gonzaga
G Jabe Mullins, Saint Mary’s
F Kolby Lee, BYU
F Josip Vrankic, Santa Clara
F Drew Timme, Gonzaga

Player of the Year

Corey Kispert, F, Gonzaga

Photo courtesy of PortlandPilots.com

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