Jan 18, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Kyle Dranginis (3) lays the ball up between Loyola Marymount Lions forward Marin Mornar (42) and forward C.J. Blackwell (2) in the first half at Gersten Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Fielding-USA TODAY Sports

WCC Position Battles for 2014-15 (Part 1)

With major voids left by players who graduated or transferred from current WCC schools, or an influx of talented entering certain teams, many schools have the dilemmas of two or more deserving players vying for one starting spot.  Here’s an overview of some of the teams with this compelling scenario.




Volodymyr Gerun vs. Riley Barker:

With the graduation of Ryan Nicholas, the power forward spot is up for grabs, and both players competing for the spot have a lot of experience playing basketball.

Gerun was a reserve big man for the Pilots last season, averaging 3.5 points per game in about 11 minutes of action a game.  But before that, he played sparingly at West Virginia behind talented Turkish big man Deniz Kilicli.  And as a 17 year old in 2011, Gerun averaged 18.2 PPG and 11.1 RPG representing Ukraine in the Under-18 European Championships.

However, Barker also has a wealth of experience solely at Portland.  As a true freshman in 2010-11, he played behind all-conference forward and former Timberwolves Summer League standout Luke Sikma and 4 year starter Kramer Knutson on a Pilots team that made it to the CIT.  The following three years (including a medical redshirt year in 2011-12) he played behind talented big men Ryan Nicholas and Thomas van der Mars.  Barker is most definitely ready to contribute after 4 years of coming off the bench.

Both players have been waiting for their shot to start in college basketball and it will be an interesting race to see who gets the starting job.



Kyle Dranginis vs. Byron Wesley

Dranginis was a part time starter/6th man for the 2013-14 Gonzaga Bulldogs team, while Wesley was a standout for a very bad USC team before transferring to Gonzaga, eligible to play this coming season.

Both players are roughly the same height and weight, yet they offer entirely different skillsets.

With Dranginis, you have a point guard in a wing player’s body, sort of like what you saw in former Zags Matt Bouldin, Steven Gray, and Grant Gibbs.  Dranginis averaged 6.1 points per game and 2.6 assists per game last season and was on track to start next season until the arrival of Byron Wesley.

Wesley is an athlete in transition and a very good rebounder from the wing spot, similar to Gerard Coleman last season.  But unlike Coleman, Wesley has a decent outside shot, something Mark Few values heavily in guards.  So therefore Wesley has a much better to chance to make more of an impact.

However, without sitting out a year, Wesley will have to learn Coach Few’s system on the fly, unlike the 4th year player Dranginis who knows what Mark Few wants to happen on offense inside and out.  On paper many fans might think that Wesley is the much better player who deserves to start, but Dranginis is a guy who just makes the offense flow better, so this will be an interesting development to follow.



Skyler Halford vs. Anson Winder vs. Frank Bartley vs. Chase Fischer

With the transfer of Matt Carlino to Marquette, there is an unforeseen opening in BYU’s backcourt.

Based on the end of last season, Winder has the best shot at starting next to Kyle Collinsworth and Tyler Haws because he brings the best combination of offense and defense among the three players.  Winder showed immense offensive potential when given fair minutes down the stretch of last season, and proved he could score from inside, outside, and the free throw line as well.

Halford definitely surprised BYU fans with his ability to get to the basket coming out of Salt Lake Community College, but disappointed beyond the arc, shooting just 31% from 3 point range.

Bartley might be the most intimidating and athletic presence on the floor among the three players.  Early in the 2013-14 season, Bartley showed athleticism in the open court, but made plenty of freshman mistakes as well.  By January, he had fallen firmly out of Coach Dave Rose’s rotation, not getting back in it until Kyle Collinsworth‘s ACL injury in the WCC Championship game in March.

Chase Fischer, a Wake Forest transfer, becomes eligible after this season and could compete for a starting job. The former Demon Deacon shot 42.2 percent from beyond the 3-point arc in 2012-2013, providing BYU with yet another long range threat.

All three of these players have shown that they can produce when given quality minutes, but it will be hard for all three of them to get those quality minutes.  It will be interesting to see which player can separate themselves from the pack.


Tags: BYU Cougars Gonzaga Bulldogs Portland Pilots West Coast Conference

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