We have been looking at some of the very interesting projections Sports Illustrated has been running as they predict the upcoming season. Categories have included top freshmen, stats leaders, breakout scorers, and top high-usage scorers. The WCC has been prominently featured in all the projections, and the one we’re taking a look at today is no exception.
Transfers are big part of many teams, and SI has projected the top 100 transfers based on raw points per game. We already knew this was potentially a big year for transfers in the WCC, and that’s been confirmed by the projection. The list features 10 wcc players among the top 100 transfers ranging from 9th to 98th.
We will be breaking down the players based on each team and how we feel they fit into their team’s plans for the 2014-15 season. We will also take a look at who they are trying to replace as a number of WCC teams also lost transfers to other schools. And a number of those former WCC players made the top 100 list.
Nov 14, 2014; Spokane, WA, USA; Sacramento State Hornets forward Alex Tiffin (34) goes up for a shot against Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half at McCarthey Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Gonzaga got away with the best trasnfer situation in the entire WCC with two of the mostly highly ranked transfers coming and no major losses. Former Kentucky forward Kyle Wiltjer is ranked the #9 transfer in the nation, best among WCC transfers. And former USC Trojan Bryron Wesley is the #17 ranked transfer, second-best in the WCC behind only Wiltjer.
These two will be a big key for the success of the Bulldogs this season, and we already got a taste of their ability in the blowout season opening win over Sacramento State. Wiltjer started and had a team-high 18 points and filled the stat sheet with 3 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 assist, and 1 steal. Wesley also started and chipped in 12 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 steals. It was against weak competition, but they were dominant and Gonzaga looks fantastic with them filling in the holes around returning starters Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell Jr., and Prezemek Karnowksi.
Wiltjer looks every bit the elite prospect he was supposed to be when he committed to Kentcuky. Moving down to the WCC where he can be a dominant player should do wonders for him, and we saw his potential in the Sacramento State win. He never quite got it going for the Wildcats, but he should be one of the best forwards in the WCC for the Bulldogs.
Wesley was a great scorer and leader for USC, but he will take more of a secondary role for the Bulldogs. But with his ability, that still means plenty of big numbers as we saw in the opening victory. He might not do as much every game as guys like Pangos and Wiltjer should take the lead, but having him as a secondary option is a good example of just how good Gonzaga is this year. Wesley would be a top option on most WCC teams, and it speaks to the depth and talent of the Bulldogs.
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The same could be said for Wiltjer. Any WCC team would have been ecstatic to land one of them. But for Gonzaga to get both is a huge game-changer. It’s even more impressive considering how loaded the Bulldogs already were. Their only issue was replacing some key departed players, and they did that with the two best transfers coming into the conference.
Wiltjer and Wesley will every bit the high-profile transfers they are projected to be, and they are a big reason why Gonzaga is a popular pick to make the Final Four. They will be hard to stop both in the WCC and in general.