What We’re Thankful For in the WCC


Happy Thanksgiving! In addition to being a time for food and family, this is the time of year we reflect on on what we’re thankful for as we look at the good things around us in our lives. The same can be done with the West Coast Conference, as we enjoy covering one of the finest mid-major conferences in the entire nation.

The WCC may not boast 6-8 nationally ranked teams or have a school in the Final Four every year, but it’s a conference full of quality teams and exciting players. Here are some of the reasons we’re thankful to have each WCC school in this conference.

PACIFIC – YOUTH DEVELOPMENT: The Tigers have made a quality conference that much deeper with their recent addition. They brought in a team coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance last year and did not disappoint. In just their first season moving up to the WCC, they reached the CIT  Tournament and advanced deeper in the postseason than any other school in the conference.

It’s going to be a rough rebuilding process after losing much of that team, but it’s going to be fun to watch TJ Wallace take a lead role as his talent grows and watch young players develop around him. Like an expansion NFL team that you watch grow and develop into a contender, we will enjoy seeing Pacific develop and improve as they look to become a yearly contender.

SANTA CLARA – JARED BROWNRIDGE AND BRANDON CLARK: Most players that truly become stars in the WCC tend to be limited to the contenders. When you list the top players in the conference, they regularly come from the big name schools: Tyler Haws, Kevin Pangos, Brad Waldow, etc. But the duo of Brownridge and Clark is one of the most fun duos to watch because of their amazing scoring ability. There is no more reliable duo to put up double-digits every single game than Brownridge and Clark.

Even more rare is to see player not from the major schools win the WCC Newcomer of the Year award. Brownridge represents one of the greatest hopes the Broncos have had since Steve Nash, and you can’t be anything but excited for the WCC as a whole to see what he can turn into. Having another elite scorer like Clark as his running mate makes him even better, and this duo could terrorize some opponents this season and make for some fun games.

LOYOLA MARYMOUNT – MIKE DUNLAP: It’s hard for the WCC to garner much regcognition on a national scale. We have to be realistic after all. The #1 high school player in the nation is probably not coming to the conference. An elite coach with tons of high-level NCAA or NBA experience is not coming to the conference. And they certainly aren’t coming to a non-contender school in the conference.

But then, LMU made headlines landing former NBA coach Mike Dunlap. To get an elite coach with his pedigree at the helm of a lower-tier WCC school is a huge benefit for the entire WCC fan base. It’s going to be very exciting to watch him use his name power to rebuild the Lions, and it will be awesome to see another team hopefully rise in the WCC ranks as he builds them into a winner. With the young core he has of new and returning players, it might not be that far away.

PORTLAND – ERIC REVENO: We’re thankful for big name coaches, but we’re also thankful for the ones that make our mid-tier teams great turning the WCC into such a deep and talented conference. Reveno has done an amazing job turning a Portland team that was doing nothing into a legitimate threat. He is not afraid to schedule big name opponents to make his team better, as evident  by their trip to Michigan State last year.

He has also done an amazing job of developing talent. From Thomas Van der Mars to Alec Wintering, the Pilots have a talented and deep group that can hang with any team in the WCC. And we saw it last year as the Chiles Center became “Upset City” in dramatic wins over Gonzaga and BYU that produced two of the greatest WCC game of year. Speaking of which, we’re also very thankful for Bobby Sharp, the sharpshooter who will hopefully produce some more memorable moments and big shots this season.

Reveno also gets points for his amazing social media presence. He has arguably the best Twitter account in the WCC and possibly one of the best of a any college coach. He has humor, insight, and he’s willing to voice real and candid opinions on things going on in college athletics. You can get real talk from a real source, and we are very thankful for that!

SAN DIEGO – CHRIS ANDERSON AND JOHNNY DEE: The “Twin Towers.” “Young Flash and Johnny Buckets.” When you have multiple nicknames, you’ve made a pretty big impression. It seems like Anderson and Dee have been around forever as they have been playing at an elite level almost since they stepped foot on the USD campus as freshmen. Now as seniors they are truly elite players among the best in the nation, and they will lead a dangerous Toreros team that hopes to make some noise.

We know all about Dee and his scoring ability. But he also might be the most accurate shooter in the WCC between his range and leading the nation in free throw percentage last season. Dee started as a walk-on and by the end of this year should be the school’s all-time leading scorer. What a story!

Anderson meanwhile is arguably one of the most fun players to watch in the conference. His acrobatic moves as he slices to the hoop have become the stuff of legend, and his court vision and slick passes could have him leading the nation in assists by the end of the season.

These two perfectly complement each other, which is why they have been so good. It’s two friends with opposite styles who go out every game and tear up the court for a very good team. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and it makes the Toreros a great team to watch.

PEPPERDINE – STACY DAVIS: There are hidden gems of talent all over the conference, but in a conference built on elite guard play an elite big man is a bit more rare. And most of the attention goes to the contenders between Brad Waldow, Kyle Wiltjer, Prezemek Karnowski, Nate Austin, and so on. But in Malibu resides one of the best forwards on the West Coast in Stacy Davis. Davis is one of the most consistent double-double threats in the conference, and he is arguably the best big forward.

The Waves have a dangerous and young team, and Davis is their centerpiece. To watch him go head-to-head with the other elite big men in the WCC is going to be really special to watch as Davis grows into a superstar. And Pepperdine has a chance to be great in large part because of him.

SAN FRANCISCO – THE FRONTCOURT: As we just talked about, elite big men are a rare commodity in college basketball and the WCC. Even having one good center or power forward is a real advantage. So for the Dons to have established the depth and talent they have is very impressive. Kruize Pinkins is an elite forward. Mark Tollefsen is also among the best. And this  year they added DePaul transfer Derrell Robertson to anchor the center position.

Guards are fun to watch with their flashy play and big shots, but a good frontcourt player is a fun player in their own way. With thundering dunks and massive blocks, they can produce highlight-reel plays. A  big reason why USF is a team on the rise is their excellent frontcourt, and they are a nice change of pace from the guard-heavy squads that dominate the WCC landscape.

SAINT MARY’S – BRAD WALDOW: Our journey through the best bigs in the WCC has to culminate with Waldow. Not only is he the best center in the conference, he is arguably one of the best in the entire nation. Every night, Waldow puts up one of the finest displays of frontcourt ability for the Gaels, and he has been an anchor of their recent success.

Without Waldow, the Gaels are from the competitive team they currently are. Guys like Aaron Bright and Kerry Carter would make them good, but Waldow makes them great. No one player can take a team to the next level like an elite center, and every Gaels fan should be giving special thanks on this holiday for having a guy like Waldow.

BYU – TYLER HAWS: There is great by WCC standards, and then there is all-time great. Tyler Haws is one of those elite talents that will be remembered even outside the annals of WCC history. Every few years we are lucky to have a guy come along that puts the WCC on the national stage thanks to his ability, and right now that guy is Haws.

Yes Gonzaga puts the WCC on the map as a team, but Haws might be the single-best individual player in the conference. It is going to be one of the best stories this season to watch him put up huge point totals and chase the national scoring title. There are teams you always want to watch, and there are also players. Haws is one of those guys, and he is a big reason the WCC is so good right now.

GONZAGA – ELITE SUCCESS: The WCC owes a lot to Gonzaga. Their emergence as a mid-major power is a driving factor behind the conference being among the best in the nation. No matter how down the conference might in a year, Gonzaga is going to bring some attention. And when they’re among the elite like this season it’s even better.

The Bulldogs provide so much to the conference as a whole: national attention, postseason success, and marquee games for the other teams. Many of the smaller schools struggle to draw big names to their home gyms, but every school gets a marquee game every year when Gonzaga comes to town. The WCC has a lot to be thankful for and even though they are an opponent and big roadblock for most teams, Gonzaga is definitely a program the whole conference should be thankful for.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and make sure to give thanks for college basketball and the programs of the West Coast Conference!