Gonzaga picked to win WCC, three players named to preseason all-conference list

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Gonzaga's Joel Ayayi (11) is all alone at the rim against Santa Clara.
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SAN BRUNO, Calif. – For the 19th time in the last 20 seasons, the Gonzaga men’s basketball team was selected as favorites in the West Coast Conference preseason coaches’ poll. The annual poll, along with the WCC Preseason Team, was released at the league office Monday.

Joel Ayayi, Corey Kispert and Drew Timme were all named to the conference’s preseason team. Preseason All-WCC voting is restricted to returning student-athletes. Incoming freshmen and transfers are not eligible for consideration.

Ayayi, who was named the 2020 West Coast Conference Tournament Most Outstanding Player, appeared in all 33 games last season, starting in 23. The redshirt junior was selected honorable mention All-Conference in 2019-20. He averaged 10.6 points, 6.33 rebounds (which was eighth in WCC), 3.21 assists (11th in WCC), and 1.27 steals (10th in WCC) per game. He was fourth in the conference with a 2.08 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Kispert was a finalist for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award last season. He was named the DI-AAA ADA Men’s Scholar Athlete of the Year, and was also tabbed USBWA All-District IX, NABC Second Team All-District 9 and WCC First Team. The senior earned Academic All-Conference honors for the second straight season in 2019-20. He was 11th in the West Coast Conference in points per game (13.9) and ninth in minutes played per game (32.9). The Edmonds, Wash., native led the team in three-point made field goals (78) and made 81 percent of his free-throws. He shot 43.8 percent from behind-the-arc last season.

Timme is the only sophomore on the league’s preseason team. Last season, the Dallas, Texas, native appeared in all 33 games, averaging 9.8 points and 5.4 rebounds. He was third in the conference with 31 blocked shots. During his freshman season, he led the team shooting 62.1 percent from the field and was third in WCC making 62.3 percent of shots inside-the-arc. Timme recorded three double-doubles in 2019-20, and reached double-digit scoring in 16 games.

The Zags clinched the 2019-20 West Coast Conference regular season outright. It was the program’s eighth straight regular season title and 23rd overall. GU extended its current nationally-best active streak of regular season titles, owned or shared. The Bulldogs have won 21 of the last 23 WCC regular season championships, 18 of which have been won outright. Gonzaga has appeared in 23 straight WCC Tournament Championship games, which is the longest streak of its kind in the nation. The Zags have won the conference tournament title eight times in the last 10 years. GU has won or shared 19 of the last 20 conference regular season titles.

With the exception of 2017-18, the Zags have been first place in every West Coast Conference preseason poll since 2001. GU received nine of the league’s 10 first place votes in this year’s poll. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own program. BYU collected the other first place vote in this year’s poll. The Zags had 81 points in the poll, while BYU was second with 69 and Saint Mary’s was third with 63.

Pepperdine was fourth in the preseason poll with 57 points, while San Francisco rounded out the top-half of the league with 52 points.

2020-21 WCC Preseason Men’s Basketball Coaches Poll

Team (First Place Vote)   Pts.
1. Gonzaga (9) 81
2. BYU (1) 69
3. Saint Mary’s   63
4. Pepperdine   57
5. San Francisco 52
6. Santa Clara 38
7. LMU   33
8. Pacific   31
9. San Diego   16
10. Portland   10

 

2020-21 All-WCC Preseason Men’s Basketball Team

Name Year Pos. Institution
Joel Ayayi Jr. G Gonzaga
Alex Barcello Sr. G BYU
Jamaree Bouyea Jr. G San Francisco
Kessler Edwards Jr. F Pepperdine
Corey Kispert Sr. F Gonzaga
Colbey Ross Sr. G Pepperdine
Eli Scott Sr. G LMU
Matthias Tass Jr. C Saint Mary’s
Drew Timme So. F Gonzaga
Josip Vrankic Sr. F Santa Clara