Not breaking news: Gonzaga is heavily favored to repeat as WCC men’s basketball champions.
The WCC coaches’ poll was released Monday and GU received nine of 10 first-place votes – coaches can’t vote for their own team – to easily outdistance BYU. Saint Mary’s was picked third, followed by San Francisco, San Diego and Portland.
“My (expectations) don’t really have much to do with all that stuff,” GU coach Mark Few said. “Mine are all about how do we get this guy to play to his full potential, to max out, and get this team to max out.”
Gonzaga, ranked 13th in the USA Today preseason poll, returns starting guards Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr., as well as 7-foot-1 center Przemek Karnowski. Pangos and Karnowski were selected to the All-WCC preseason team.
Pangos, who has been All-WCC the last three seasons, joined Few at the WCC’s annual tip-off event in Los Angeles.
“He’s the best,” said Few, when asked why he brought Pangos. “He represents everything that our program is about: great player, incredible worker, great values, high character and phenomenal teammate.”
Forward Kyle Wiltjer, who redshirted last season after transferring from Kentucky, figures to assume a prominent role. Byron Wesley, a transfer from USC, is a probable starter at small forward, and Eric McClellan, a transfer from Vanderbilt who becomes eligible in January, should add versatility at guard.
The Zags’ highly touted freshman class includes forward Domantas Sabonis and guards Josh Perkins, Silas Melson and Bryan Alberts.
“If you look at every position, there are at least two guys that can contribute,” Pangos said. “And everybody brings something different.”
BYU is led by preseason All-WCC picks Tyler Haws, last season’s conference Player of the Year, and Kyle Collinsworth, returning from a torn ACL.
“I love the make-up of our roster” with five seniors, Cougars coach Dave Rose said. “One of the things we all have to figure out is how to knock Gonzaga out of the conference championship.”
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