Weekly mailbag
GCU big man Aidan Igiehon will play a big role in GCU's success in 2022-23. Courtesy Western Athletic Conference.

GCU, Seattle, Style of Play Featured in Weekly Mailbag

You know, I am not going to lie. At the age of 40, I just do not have the energy I did maybe 10 years ago. I just got done playing in perhaps the last slowpitch softball tournament of the year for myself. And I am just beat. But, good thing it is Sunday and sitting here at my table in my air conditioned house writing another WAC Hoops weekly mailbag article. Thank you, once again, for submitting your questions. It is always a pleasure to answer the mailbag questions from the fans.

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Now, to the weekly mailbag. And this week’s mailbag is full of some interesting questions. GCU depth, Seattle U’s shooting, another seeding system question and style of play all comes up. So, let’s get to it.

Outside of Jovan (Blacksher Jr.), Who From GCU is the Most Likely to Make First Team All-WAC?

This is a good question to start the weekly mailbag. The first name that comes to mind is Presbyterian transfer Rayshon Harrison. This is due to the fact that Harrison is going to be expected to score…ALOT. Harrison averaged over 17 points per game at Presbyterian in 2021-22 and will fill the void left by Holland Woods who was GCU’s second leading scorer in 2021-22. I am not sure that after Blacksher Jr. and Harrison, another Lope will score as much.

Yes, Noah Baumann is mentioned in your tweet as a possibility. And that’s true. But not as likely as Rayshon Harrison being the other First Team All-WAC selection alongside Jovan Blacksher Jr. And be careful making some quick assumptions about Newcomer of the Year.

Okay, let’s be honest, the WAC Newcomer of the Year is going to be a toss-up at the end of the season. If Rayshon Harrison is a First Team All-WAC selection, my guess is he wins Newcomer of the Year. Or, at the very least, is in the conversation more than Noah Baumann. But there are so many good players that have transferred into the WAC for the 2022-23 season that I am not even going to make a selection at this time.

What Are Your Thoughts on This GCU Team with Bryce Drew at Helm for his Third Season?

In my 2022-23 GCU Season Preview, I stated there is a lot of hype surrounding the GCU men’s basketball program for the 2022-23 season. And there should be. The Lopes return three of four starters including WAC Player of the Year candidate Jovan Blacksher Jr. GCU also has a pair of big men in Yvan Ouedraogo and Aidan Igiehon who give the Lopes a big advantage in the paint. If both Ouedraogo and Igiehon have improved their offensive games in the offseason, watch out. Drew and his staff brought in four Division I transfers in Noah Baumann, Rayshon Harrison, Logan Landers and Josh Baker to add depth to an already deep roster.

Gabe McGlothan is back. But, outside of the bigs and their offensive development, the player to keep an eye on is guard Chance McMillian. He should be back in his Sixth Man role and his development and growth should itself in good and bad ways in 2021-22. Bryce Drew is excited about what he has seen from McMillian in the offseason so keep an eye on him.

GCU will be in the mix for the regular season crown and right there in the WAC Tournament again. 2021-22 was the first time since being eligible for the WAC Tournament that the Lopes didn’t play in the championship game. Yes, there will be plenty of home games but the schedule is more challenging than in years past. Games against Wichita State, North Texas, Nevada, Wyoming, Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount and Montana State grace the schedule. As of now, there aren’t any Power 6 games on the slate, which is disappointing. But that could change.

is it possible for a team from the WAC to be a 12-seed again? Yes. It is very possible given the depth and improvement we are seeing in the league plus removing three squads that were sub-300 in the KenPom rankings helps. Is it a two-bid league like you have asked? At least that is what I am assuming when you ask ‘does the WAC have 2-seed potential?’

No, it won’t be a two-bid league this season. And it may take quite a few more seasons for that to be a reality. For the WAC to be in the discussion for a two-bid league, the non-conference slate has to go almost flawless for a pair of teams who then have to be 1-2 in the WAC standings at the end of the regular season and who then have to meet a third time in the WAC championship game. So, not likely. Possible but not likely.

If the New Tournament Seeding System Would Have Been Intact Last Year, How Would the Top Four Teams Be Seeded?

That is a great weekly mailbag question. I will just place the photo in the article that comes from the initial article on CBS Sports about this topic to make it easy to answer this question.

Courtesy Western Athletic Conference

As you can see Grand Canyon would have been the 2-seed rather than have to play New Mexico State in the WAC semifinals. Utah Valley wouldn’t have had to play Abilene Christian. So, there may have been some different scenarios happen at the 2021-22 WAC Tournament.

Do You Believe Seattle U Can Shoot Enough 3’s to Stay Competitive with the Top Tier of the Conference?

The easy answer to this weekly mailbag question is: YES!

The Redhawks attempted 910 3-pointers in 2021-22. And, the Redhawks won a share of the WAC regular season title for the first time in program history. So, that should tell you all you need to know. Seattle U also hit a league-leading 309 3-pointers, 22 more than Sam Houston at 287. With Cameron Tyson and Riley Grigsby back, there will be no shortage of 3-pointers. And considering the Redhawks play a lot of guards and are deep at the position in 2022-23, they will rely heavily on it once again.

Is There a Style of Play That Tends to Define the WAC?

Not necessarily. Under Chris Jans, New Mexico State played a different brand of basketball than they will under Greg Heiar. Many teams like CBU and Seattle U rely on the 3-pointer more than most squads. Utah Valley had a dominant big man but was still at its best in transition the past two seasons. GCU went from a dominant frontcourt in 2020-21 to a dominant backcourt in 2021-22. If I’m being honest, it changes from year to year with the roster turnover.

One thing we can say is this is not a half court offense-friendly conference. Quick triggers, shooting early in the shot clock, getting out in transition. Run and gun. Those are some things that describe this conference. Nobody wants to let the defense get set so they are on attack mode rather than working the shot clock.

I will answer the last two questions in this portion. There are some quick wings that can attack. Rayshon Harrison at GCU. Riley Grigsby at Seattle U. Justin Harmon or Trey Woodbury at UVU. Tevian Jones at SUU. Take your pick of the NMSU roster. Roti Ware at SFA. Justin Johnson at UTRGV. Freddy Hicks at Tarleton. Tobias Cameron at ACU. These are guys that can take people off the dribble and finish at the rim.

ACU guard Tobias Cameron can finish at the rim and also knock down the 3-pointer. Courtesy Western Athletic Conference.

Big men are a dime a dozen in the WAC. Fortunately, the past two seasons, the WAC was blessed with some really good big men. Fardaws Aimaq at Utah Valley. Asbjørn Midtgaard at GCU. Gorjok Gak at CBU. Johnny McCants at NMSU. Gavin Kensmil at SFA. Just to name a few.

In 2022-23, there is some potential. Yvan Ouedraogo and Aidan Igiehon at GCU. Timothy Ighoefe at CBU. Kaosi Ezeagu at Sam Houston. Issa Muhammad and Doc Bradley at NMSU. Airion Simmons, Cam Steele, and Joe Pleasant at ACU. It is still a guard-heavy league but a rim protector who can defend the paint and rebound could be the key in winning a conference title.

Are Most of the Stars Guards that Drain Tons of 3’s?

In 2022-23, this will most likely be the case. This is a guard-heavy league so there will be a lot of 3-pointers attempted. But, a lot of the ‘star’ guards can finish at the rim, as stated above.

Cameron Tyson will light teams up. Jovan Blacksher Jr has become more of a scorer. Taran Armstrong doesn’t take a lot of 3-pointers but is capable of a triple-double at any given moment. His brother Tre Armstrong has the green light at any given moment.

The WAC Hoops weekly mailbag comes out every Sunday evening. Keep the questions coming. Remember to follow WAC Hoops Digest on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and be sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel so you never miss a video podcast episode or any other content we put out.

 

About the author

Kyle McDonald

Love everything about WAC Hoops so decided I wanted to write more about it and cover this amazing conference that just keeps getting better. Follow us on Twitter @wachoopsdigest for information, game analysis and much more.

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