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Gonzaga Basketball
Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Eric McClellan named top defender in WCC; Wiltjer, Sabonis first team

Gonzaga guard Eric McClellan has been named the defensive player of the year in the WCC. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga guard Eric McClellan has been named the defensive player of the year in the WCC. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Gonzaga’s Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis were named first-team All-WCC, Eric McClellan was tabbed defensive player of the year and Josh Perkins made the All-Freshman squad.

The All-WCC teams and individual awards, voted on by the 10 head coaches, were announced Tuesday.

BYU senior guard Kyle Collinsworth was selected player of the year. Collinsworth is the NCAA all-time leader in triple-doubles with 11. He’s the school’s all-time leader in steals and rebounds.

Randy Bennett, who guided Saint Mary’s to a co-championship with Gonzaga and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming WCC tournament, collected coach of the year honors and Gaels guard Joe Rahon, a transfer from Boston College, was named newcomer of the year.

Wiltjer, a two-time All-WCC selection, and Sabonis, who made second-team last season, were joined on the first team by BYU’s Collinsworth and Chase Fischer, Saint Mary’s Emmett Naar and Joe Rahon, Portland’s Alec Wintering, San Francisco’s Devin Watson, Santa Clara’s Jared Brownridge and Pepperdine’s Stacy Davis, the latter a three-time first-teamer.

The second team consisted of San Francisco’s Tim Derksen, BYU’s Nick Emery, Loyola Marymount’s Adom Jacko, Pepperdine’s Lamond Murray Jr. and Portland’s Bryce Pressley. Honorable mention awards went to LMU’s Brandon Brown, Pepperdine’s Jett Raines and Pacific’s Alec Kobre and T.J. Wallace.

Wiltjer led the WCC in scoring at 20.8 points. The 6-foot-10 senior forward averaged 6.4 rebounds, made 73 3-pointers and swatted 21 shots, matching Sabonis for team-high honors. Wiltjer scored in double figures in 27 games and posted five 30-point games.

Sabonis registered 19 double-doubles while averaging 17.2 points and a conference-leading 11.9 rebounds, the first double-digit rebounder at Gonzaga since Paul Cathey’s 11.5 in 1977-78. Sabonis has had at least 10 rebounds in the last eight games and 12 of the last 13. He poured in a career-high 36 points against Tennessee and 35 against San Francisco two weeks later.

McClellan is the sixth Zag to win the top defender award, including Gary Bell Jr. in 2015. McClellan often drew the assignment of guarding the opponent’s top perimeter player. Gonzaga limited WCC foes to 39.5 percent from the field and ranked second nationally in 3-point percentage defense (28.5), fractions behind Vanderbilt.

Perkins leads the team in assists (3.97 per game) and steals (33) and he’s third in scoring (9.9 ppg). He ranked second in conference play in 3-point percentage at 46.3 percent, just behind Saint Mary’s Evan Fitzner’s 47.1.

Joining Perkins and Fitzner on the All-Freshman team were BYU’s Emery, Pepperdine’s Kameron Edwards and Santa Clara’s KJ Feagin.

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