Coming into WAC Vegas in March, the GCU men’s basketball team wasn’t playing its best basketball.
Sure, the Lopes had back-to-back road wins at Southern Utah and at Utah Tech to end the regular season. But, home losses to both UTRGV and Seattle U gave some pause for concern.
Perhaps it was winning those final two regular season game. Or, maybe, just maybe, fans finally got to see how good GCU really was over a six-day span in March.
Ray Harrison had a 30-point night in the tourney opener.. Gabe McGlothan had a monster night against Seattle U in the quarterfinals. Kobe Knox, Noah Baumann and Chance McMillian shot the Lopes into the WAC title game. And then, it was a team effort in a blowout win over Southern Utah in the WAC title game.
In three games at Orleans Arena, GCU hit 39 3-pointers. The Lopes were 16-30 in a win over Sam Houston. Against Seattle U, GCU hit 10 3-pointers. And in the title game, the Lopes hit 13 3-pointers.
What a time to get hot, right? The impressive shooting performances led the Lopes to their second trip to the NCAA Tournament in three years.
Yes, GCU had to run into Gonzaga and Drew Timme in the first round. A slow start was the difference in an 82-70 first round exit in Denver.
Back-to-back 20-win seasons under Bryce Drew. It could have been a trio of 20-win seasons had it not been for the shortened Covid season in 2020-21.
Either way, the Lopes continue to win. And with the largest NIL collective in the WAC, that is unlikely to change anytime soon.
Let’s take a look at the 2023-24 Lopes.
Bryce Drew, fourth season
2022-23 Season Record
24-12 overal/11-7 WAC (4th)
Won WAC Tournament
Lost in NCAA First Round to Gonzaga
- Ray Harrison – 6’4, Junior
- Derrick Michael Xzavierro – 6’10, Redshirt Freshman
- Jovan Blacksher Jr – 5’11, Redshirt Senior
- Josh Baker – 6’4, Senior
- Gabe McGlothan – 6’7, Redshirt Senior
- Isaiah Shaw – 6’8, Redshirt Freshman
- Sydney Curry – 6’8, Senior, Transfer from Louisville
- Lök Wur – 6’9, Senior, Transfer from Oregon
- Malcom Flaggs – 6’6, Freshman, Transfer from Arizona State
- Tyon Grant-Foster – 6’7, Senior, Transfer from DePaul
- Collin Moore – 6’4, Junior, Transfer from Georgia State
- Caleb Shaw – 6’5, Sophomore, Transfer from Northern Colorado
- Noah Amenhauser – 7’0, Freshman
- Duke Brennan – 6’10, Sophomore, Transfer from Arizona State
- Kobe Knox – Transferred to South Florida
- Chance McMillian – Transferred to Texas Tech
- Yvan Ouedraogo – Transferred to CBU
- Aidan Igiehon – Transferred to ACU
- Noah Baumann – Graduated
- Walt Ellis – Graduated
- Logan Landers – Left Team
- Isaiah Carr – Transfer Portal
When you look at the roster, it is easy to see why GCU will be the favorite to win the WAC by many media platforms. The return of Ray Harrison after testing the NBA Draft waters. Jovan Blacksher Jr. is back from his torn ACL in January. Mr. Do-It-All Gabe McGlothan returns for a final run. And Josh Baker is back after a solid first season in Phoenix.
Sure, GCU lost three starters in Kobe Knox, Chance McMillian and Noah Baumann. All three of those guys were red hot in late March. And yes, GCU lost both of its big men to fellow WAC schools. Something Bryce Drew wished wouldn’t have happened because he doesn’t want to face either Aidan Igiehon or Yvan Ouedraogo.
But, the Lopes are extremely deep at the guard position. Tyon Grant-Foster and Collin Moore are capable scorers and ball handlers. Add these two to an already dynamic guard line.
The frontcourt depth is a little stronger in 2023-24, as well. Sydney Curry and Lök Wur both played at the Power 5 level last season. Duke Brennan brings length to his 6’10 frame and ability to be more efficient offensively. That has been an achilles for the Lopes the past two seasons…lack of offensive production from the bigs. In 2023-24, that should change.
The big question is if there will be enough shots to go around? There are a lot of mouths to feed in the Valley of the Sun in 2023-24. Can the chemistry come together a little quicker than it did in 2022-23? Perhaps a trip the Bahamas as a team will be a good opportunity make that happen.
According to Bryce Drew, this is one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the Division I era at GCU. The Lopes host National runner-up San Diego State. GCU takes on San Francisco in the Arizona Tip-Off and will get either DePaul or South Carolina in the following game. The Lopes host NCAA Tournament team Southeast Missouri to open the season.
And in the WAC/Conference USA Alliance, the Lopes host Sam Houston and head to Lynchburg, Virginia to take on Liberty. The Flames made a slight run in the NIT in 2022-23.
The trip to Liberty is the lone trip in the non-conference slate out of the state of Arizona, or even the Phoenix area.
GCU opens WAC play at UTRGV on Nov. 29 before hosting UT Arlington on Dec. 2.