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2022-2023 West Coast College Basketball Preview

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Gonzaga wins the WCC standings this season…Don’t get your panties in a wad WCC fans because I’d pick them to win any conference in the nation, I think they are the best team in the nation going into 2022-23. The rest of the WCC is down this season, certainly taking a step back from last year when Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, and San Francisco were in the top 26 of NET. BYU finished 59th and Santa Clara 70th as well. I have a hard time seeing another Top 70 team in the preseason at this point besides Gonzaga. It looks like Gonzaga and the 9 dwarfs similar to how Memphis looked under Calipari in CUSA 2.0. We’ll get into why in this preview. On the bright side, there were some really bad teams in the WCC last year as well at the bottom, and I think several of those improved a lot.

Here are our national ranks so you can see the tiers we have each of these teams on.

1-363 ranking

National Rank
77San FranciscoWCC
87Saint Mary?sWCC
105San DiegoWCC
124Santa ClaraWCC
201Loyola MarymountWCC


In Lieu of an All Conference teams, I?ve listed the Top Returning Players by Peak Adjusted Efficiency for SOS. Most will likely come from this list anyway, but the awards are more team driven. I?m more interested in who is actually doing the most when they are on the court. The players can?t control the team that was put around them. If they are putting up tangible numbers at top efficiency per possession on bad teams, that is actually more impressive to me. It?s coming under more pressure and game planning for them, with less viable options around them to take the pressure off. This list encompasses the players that have been the best on a D1 court going into the season.

ADJ effTop 300
4Drew TimmeGonzaga
28Malachi SmithGonzaga
36Fousseyni TraoreBrigham Young
126Rasir BoltonGonzaga
177Julian StrawtherGonzaga
199Jaiden DelaireSan Diego
252Logan JohnsonSaint Mary?s
264Khalil ShabazzSan Francisco
291Marcus WilliamsSan Francisco

(Last year?s NET, Seed, and Tournament Finish are on the top header line for reference. Deep bench players are not listed, only those in the projected rotation. I also included player ADJ eff rankings. ADJ eff Rankings and qualifying explanation here.)

1. Gonzaga

Gonzaga1 NET1 seedPERS16
Drew Timme6-10, 23518.4ppg, 6.8rpg27.5Sr
Anton Watson6-8, 2257.3ppg, 4.7rpg22.9Sr
Julian Strawther6-7, 20511.8ppg, 5.4rpg18.7Jr
Malachi Smith6-4, 20519.9ppg, 6.7rpg(@Chattanooga)27.9Jr
Rasir Bolton6-3, 18511.2ppg 2.3apg16.3Gr
Nolan Hickman6-2, 1855.1ppg, 1.3apg11.7So
Hunter Sallis6-5, 1754.3ppg 2.0rpg14.3So
Efton Reid6-11, 2386.3ppg 4.3rpg (@LSU)12.6So
Ben Gregg6-10, 2252.4ppg, 2.0rpg16.3So
Kaden Perry6-9, 2251.8rpg, 2.3rpg12So
Dominick Harris6-3, 190redshirt 4*Fr
Braden Huff6-9, 2054 *Fr
Peak Efficiency Adjusted by SOSReturning Players in the Top 300
4Drew Timme
28Malachi Smith
126Rasir Bolton
177Julian Strawther

Gonzaga went from massive questions to #1 in the matter of 3 days when Timme, Strawther, and Bolton all decided to pull their name out of the NBA draft. The news got even better 2 days later when Malachi Smith committed. Timme made us all wait until the final hour, but it always felt like he was coming back. Why wouldn?t he when he can likely make more money with his NIL deal than as a 2nd rounder? The other 3 were more of a pleasant surprise.

Losing a unique shot blocking 31.3 PER player like Holmgren and your 4-year experienced point guard remains substantial. There are probably even still some questions about the lineup makeup and who plays point guard but with the amount of talent, they take their normal spot at #1 in the rankings. Few will figure all that out.

Gonzaga is the #1 team by a comfortable margin in NET average the 4 years it has existed.

4 year average NET

It would be foolish to doubt them now when they still have a great player like Timme and many winnable games in the WCC to rack up. The Smith addition cements it for me. That?s not to underrate their excellence in stating the reality of the schedule. I?m not a Gonzaga hater, and I do believe they could have won any power conference last year as well.

Rasir Bolton coming back was a bit unexpected. I see him taking some of the question marks away in the backcourt than a real needle mover, Smith moved the needle. Watson seems primed for a bigger role, and if he can maintain the same level of efficiency in more minutes. Another year, another loaded team. It is so loaded we will need to watch for how they even deploy the talent and rotation.

2. BYU

Noah Waterman6-1111.9 Pts, 4.5 Reb (@ Detroit 2021)21.4Jr
Fousseyni Traore6-69.5 Pts, 8.5 Reb24.4So
Gideon George6-68.8 Pts, 5.0 Reb16.1Sr
Spencer Johnson6-55.8 Pts, 2.9 Reb12.8Sr
Rudi Williams6-314.7 Pts, 3.2 Ast (@CCU)22.9Sr
Trevin Knell6-56.4 Pts, 1.8 Reb10.4Sr
Atiki Ally Atiki6-93.0 Pts, 2.9 Reb14.7So
Jaxson Robinson6-73.4 Pts, 1.3 Reb(@Arkansas)Jr
Peak Efficiency Adjusted by SOSReturning Players in the Top 300
36Fousseyni Traore

BYU returns one of the best young players in the country no one knows about in Fousseyni Traore. He should step into a bigger role and more minutes this season and become one of the players to watch for. They lost most of their other main contributors but were able to do pretty well in the portal landing Rudi Williams, Noah Waterman, and Jaxon Robinson. Williams isn’t a natural point guard but he will need to step up into that role this season. He originally started at Kansas State and has that pedigree. Waterman played on a Detroit team going nowhere but 2 seasons ago shot 53% from three on high volume 2.5 makes a game. He’s a career 44% shooter. It’s an interesting skill set for a 6-11 center. He should fit nicely beside of Traore.

3. San Francisco

San Francisco26 NET
Saba Gigiberia7-12.5 Pts, 2.3 Reb (@Georgia Tech)17Jr
Tony Rocak6-815.2 Pts, 6.5 Reb (@UC-SD)18.2Sr
Gabe Stefanini6-39.5 Pts, 2.1 Ast13.9Sr
Khalil Shabazz6-113.7 Pts, 3.2 Reb,16.7Sr
Marcus Williams6-214.8 Pts, 4.3 Ast (2021@Wyoming)18.3Jr
Tyrell Roberts5-1111.4 Pts, 2.0 Ast (@Washington St)12.1Jr
Julian Rishwain6-57.4 Pts, 3.0 Reb15.7Jr
Josh Kunen6-84.3 Pts, 3.3 Reb9.9Jr
Volodymyr Markovetskyy7-11.8 Pts, 1.5 Reb12.2Jr
Peak Efficiency Adjusted by SOSReturning Players in the Top 300
264Khalil Shabazz
291Marcus Williams

Todd Golden left for Florida after taking San Francisco to their first NCAA tournament in nearly 25 years. It was a nice feat and in a good move, they promoted his replacement Chris Gerlufsen from within who was part of it. Gerlufsen had a nice offseason convincing Shabazz to come out of the portal and return. He also added multiple quality transfers in Marcus Williams, Tyrell Roberts and Tony Rocak. They will not be as good as last years top 26 NET team but they will still be one of the best teams not named Gonzaga in the WCC.

4. Saint Mary’s

Saint Mary’s19 NET5 seed2R
Mitchell Saxen6-102303.3 Pts, 2.3 Reb24.1Jr
Kyle Bowen6-82255.6 Pts, 5.5 Reb12.8Sr
Alex Ducas6-621510.3 Pts, 3.7 Reb13.7Sr
Augustas Marciulionis6-41853.1 Pts,1.8 Ast6.4So
Logan Johnson6-217011.9 Pts, 2.6 Ast16.8Sr
Jabe Mullins6-51902.9 Pts, 1.0 Reb13.4Jr
Mason Forbes6-82058.0 Pts, 5.3 Reb, 1.2 Ast (@Harvard)15.5Sr
Peak Efficiency Adjusted by SOSReturning Players in the Top 300
252Logan Johnson

In the 4 seasons, NET has existed Saint Mary’s has the 20th best average. In the last 18 seasons, they have only missed the NCAA or NIT 2 times. This program does more with less than anyone. If you want a visual, this is where they play…..

I’m not hating on the arena, it seems like it would be a nice experience it just looks more like a nice High School or D2 Arena than one a Top 20 Program plays in. The program Saint Mary’s has been able to build without all the advantages is incredible. Randy Bennett is certainly one of the best and most underpaid coaches in basketball.

This season might test the run of success. I’m a big believer in Bennentt but I’m not in this roster. Losing Matthias Tass and Tommy Kuhse were the biggest impact effiency players last year and are now gone. Of the returners Logan Johnson is certainly the most proven but wasn’t to their level. Saxen seems to have the most upside and likely to replace some of what they lost. He should get all the minutes he can take this season. No one else jumps out as having a lot of upside and the depth is suspect IMO. The only addition with any experience is an 8ppg transfer from Harvard.

5. San Diego

Peak Efficiency Adjusted by SOSReturning Players in the Top 300
199Jaiden Delaire
Nic Lynch6-11, 2509.7ppg, 4.4rpg (@Lehigh)19.7
Jaiden Delaire6-9, 21012.5ppg, 4.1rpg (@Stanford 2021)16.4
Eric Williams Jr.6-6, 2008.4ppg, 4.6rpg(@Oregon)12.2
Seikou Sisoho Jawara6-3, 18012.4ppg, 3.0apg(@Weber St)14.3

Steve Lavin has been out of coaching since 2015, yet he jumped right in and grabbed some serious talent out of the portal. I like the hire personally and I think his offseason has shown he can adapt to what is going on today. Of course, most of his success is 20 years ago at UCLA but he had a nice run at St. John’s and is still only 57 years old. It’s still baffling he was fired at St. John’s in a season they went to the NCAA tournament. It’s a program that has been to 3 NCAA in 20 years and he took them to 2 of those. It’s quite a get for San Diego and he was able to pull Delaire from Stanford and Williams from Oregon who were major contributors. Williams even averaged 10ppg, 6rpg the season prior at Oregon. The team is a little weak in the post but that probably just means Jaiden Delaire plays more minutes there which isn’t necessarily a bad thing on offense.

6. Santa Clara

Santa Clara hasn’t made an NCAA since Steve Nash was on the team in 1996, but they did make the bubble last year under Herb Sendek. Unfortunately, the biggest reason behind that was another first-rounder Jalen Williams who was the 12th pick of OKC. That will be a tough replacement. The good news is they do return the 2nd best player in 13.0ppg, 6.7rpg 17.4 PER, and a couple of other lower-end contributors. The big addition from the portal is Carlos Marshall Jr who averaged 12.8ppg, 3.4rpg 16.1 PER at Tennessee State. He does shoot 41% from three on 2 makes a game and it helps but is nowhere near what went out the door.

7. Portland

Portland is coming off a season that saw them ranked #181 in NET. They lose their best player in Moses Woods and his (14.2pgg, 6.0rpg 18.1 PER) but the good news is they return pretty much everyone else and should benefit from continuity especially earlier in the season while most teams are working in transfers. Any improvement will need to come internally.

8 Pacific

Keylan Boone6-8, 2006.0ppg, 3.3rpg(@Oklahoma St)13.8
Judson Martindale6-6, 2058.3ppg, 3.3rpg(@Holy Cross)11.6
Donovan Williams6-5. 2003.1ppg, 1.6rpg(@Oklahoma St)13.1
Tyler Beard6-2, 1803.0ppg, 1.3apg(@Georgetown)6.8
Jordan Ivy Curry6-2, 17013.9ppg, 2.3apg(@UTSA)13.1

Pacific finished #298 in NET last season and if nothing else I like the effort and work they put into the portal to try to get players they think could help them improve and not wait around on freshmen. There is so much talent on the move in the portal at least try IMO. They did and while I think it was a bit underwhelming you can at least see a path of improvement. The two transfers from Oklahoma State didn’t play much but they were pretty solid when they did play and they will have some chemistry together that doesn’t exist with most transfers. Three Power 6 players that are looking for bigger roles and all 3 should get them. Jordan Ivy-Curray committed to both UTEP and New Mexico State this offseason, I guess the 3rd times a charm. He’s inefficient and doesn’t do much but score but he’s a guy that can suck up some usage at least and get a shot off. I think they can crack the top 200 after been nearly 300 last season.

9 Loyola Marymount

Loyola Marymount finished #209 NET last season and lost all their best players. I guess you could say they weren’t good anyway so what’s the big deal. I can’t say I would be excited trying to win with the back ups to those players that weren’t good and the coach thought was better since he played them more. Justin Ahrens is the big get from Ohio State in the portal. He averaged 5.7ppg in his best season and is more of a 3 point specialist and dependent scorer meaning someone is going to have to get him the ball. He will have a hard time just replicating what they lost in Joe Quintana who was one of the better 3 point shooters in the portal last season. I can’t see any improvement losing him and Eli Scott.

10. Pepperdine

285 NET ouch. This season should be better for Lorenzo Romar, but he’s not recruiting NBA players like he was at Washington. I don’t see any saviors. He’s running it back with basically the same team as last season. All the top players are back and I guess the hope is continuity and each player will improve some. I don’t think that’s getting them up the rankings very quickly or out of the basement in the WCC. I like returning your best players but I like what Pacific was able to do by adding players more. I think we kind of know what Pepperdine is and what to expect even if they improve there is likely a ceiling on how much they can. I think a school like Pacific has a much higher ceiling just as unknowns from the P6.

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