Different year, same story.
Coaches in the West Coast Conference widely expect Gonzaga to win its 10th consecutive regular-season championship as the Bulldogs received all but one first-place vote when Thursday’s preseason poll came out.
The Bulldogs collected nine of 10 first-place votes from WCC coaches, with BYU receiving the only other first-place vote. Since coaches aren’t able to vote for their own school, the other nine coaches in the conference selected Gonzaga while the Bulldogs’ Mark Few cast his vote for BYU.
Two Gonzaga standouts, junior forward Drew Timme and senior point guard Andrew Nembhard, were among the 10 players named to the preseason All-WCC team. The preseason team is restricted to returning players and does not include incoming freshmen or transfers, otherwise highly touted Gonzaga rookie Chet Holmgren and to a lesser extent, Iowa State transfer guard Rasir Bolton, would have been in consideration for preseason nods.
Gonzaga’s run of consecutive WCC regular-season titles reached nine last season and the Bulldogs have either won or shared 20 of the past 21 championships. In Thursday’s poll, a Gonzaga team that’s projected to check in No. 1 in the preseason Top 25 polls and contend again for the national championship received 81 total points – nine more than second-place BYU.
The Cougars were followed by Saint Mary’s (63), Loyola Marymount (56), San Francisco (49), Santa Clara (45), Pepperdine (31), Pacific (24), San Diego (20) and Portland (nine).
Timme, though just a junior, has registered more minutes in a GU uniform than anyone else on the Bulldogs’ roster. Nembhard is one of just two scholarship seniors on a young team that brings in the highest-rated freshman class in school history.
Last season, Timme won the Karl Malone Award, which recognizes the nation’s top power forward. The Texas native is considered to be a strong favorite for national player of the year honors after fueling Gonzaga’s run through the 2020 NCAA Tournament, scoring 100 points in a four-game stretch against Oklahoma, Creighton, USC and UCLA. Timme led the Bulldogs with 19.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game while converting 65.5% of his shot attempts.
In his first year at Gonzaga after transferring from Florida, Nembhard averaged 9.2 points and 2.4 rebounds while ranking second on the team with 4.4 assists. A product of Aurora, Ontario, Nembhard nabbed All-WCC second-team honors last season and was named the conference’s sixth man of the year. In the NCAA Tournament, he recorded 31 assists compared to just eight turnovers.
Spokane-born Saint Mary’s guard Logan Johnson made the preseason All-WCC team, joining BYU’s Alex Barcello and Caleb Lohner, USF’s Jamaree Bouyea and Khalil Shabazz, Santa Clara’s Josip Vrankic and Jalen Williams and LMU’s Eli Scott.
There’s been plenty of offseason turnover in the WCC as just five of the 10 players on the preseason team earn earned all-conference first-team honors in 2020-21.
First-team Gonzaga selections Corey Kispert, Joel Ayayi and Jalen Suggs have since left the conference, as have Pepperdine’s Kessler Edwards and Colbey Ross, along with second-team choices Brandon Averette and Matt Haarms of BYU.
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