The Cougars looked unstoppable for most of this past league season and were only beaten by three teams, San Diego, Gonzaga, and San Francisco. BYU only loses two seniors after this past season, but both of them will be a significant blow to the team. Kylie Maeda has been BYU’s steady point guard over the course of her career. She started every game this past season and averaged over thirty minutes each game. While she only averaged 5.9 points per game her presence was very noticeable on the court. The other senior that BYU lost was Lexi Eaton Rydalch. Rydalch started every game this past season and averaged the most minutes per game for the Cougars. She shot 37.8% from behind the arc and averaged 24.2 points per game on her way to 798 points this season. 443 of these points came during league play and brought her career total to 2,535 points. This is the current record of points scored by any WCC player male or female. She passed the late Hank Gathers for the title. Cassie Broadhead will likely take the starting point guard role next season after only averaging just over fourteen minutes per game this season. BYU had four players averaging over thirty minutes per game this past season and two of them are graduating, with three players averaging between ten and twenty five minutes, yet half of BYU’s roster averaged less than ten minutes. This leaves the current conference champions with big shoes to fill and an inexperienced roster to fill those shoes.
The Gael’s posted a strong record in the 2015-16 season that ended with a shocking loss to San Francisco in the WCC tournament and a heartbreaking one point loss to Eastern Michigan in the WNIT tournament. St. Mary’s loses Lauren Nicholson who was their leading scorer on the season. She averaged more minutes than anyone else on the team and scored 477 points with 243 of them coming in league play. Nicholson only played in twenty eight of the teams thirty two games and the Gaels proved they could win without her. They also lose Hannah Kaser. Kaser shot forty percent from the field and just over forty percent from behind the arc. She provided a spark off the bench for the Gaels and scored 137 points over the course of the season. The Gaels 2016-17 roster is also missing Devyn Galland who transferred from Oregon after her freshman season there. Galland would be a senior in the upcoming season. This could just be an oversight on the side of the Gaels, or Galland could have decided to not return for her redshirt senior season. Either way look for St. Mary’s to be strong again next season.
San Diego proved to be strong through the season but vulnerable in the postseason. The Torerros only lose one player after this past season in Malina Hood. Hood was the team's leading scorer this season tallying 608 points over the course of the season with 289 in league play. While they lose Malina Hood they return Maya Hood for her redshirt senior season. San Diego only loses one player and they had a pretty balanced roster this season. Only four players averaged under ten minutes, and five averaged over twenty minutes a game. And only one player played in less than ten games on the season. San Diego looks to return an almost identical team next season as they push to win the championship.
The Broncos had a better season than they have had in the past, but they will have to get over the loss of three seniors to be successful next season. They lose Maddison Allen who has absolutely no stats. They also lose Devin Hudson who was a pretty solid competitor. She scored 137 points this season with 124 of them coming in league play. The Broncos also lose Brooke Gallaway. Gallaway was a very streaky player this past season, and while she only tallied 62 points she was a very dangerous player. The Broncos may lose three players but they return all five of their starters and their leading scorers. Santa Clara also lost their coach. Regardless the Broncos are looking like they will be a force to be reckoned with next season.
The Bulldogs hit a bit of a speedbump this season and landed in fifth place in the WCC. On top of that they lose five players. The Zags lose starting point guard Georgia Stirton who had been a steady hand since her transfer from North Idaho College. Stirton started every game this season. They also lose center Shelby Cheslek. She broke the all time block record at Gonzaga and standing at six foot five was a tough matchup for any team. She also started every game this season. The Zags also lose steady swingman Shaniqua Nilles. Nilles was known to shut her man down on defense and was also known to play every position on the court. No matter what the Zags needed Nilles provided it and always played with so much fire and emotion. The last senior that the Zags lose is Chelsea Waters. Waters was a very streaky player but a lot like Nilles in the sense that she could play every position and always played with passion and energy. Sophomore Kacie Bosch also recently announced that she is transferring to play basketball at a different school. Although the Zags lose five, they return Elle Tinkle for one more year, the get Jill Barta back off of her stellar season, Kiara Kudron is back for her redshirt senior year, they return Laura Stockton who already has plenty of experience at the point guard and get Chandler Smith and Makenlee Williams off of redshirts. Regardless of the disappointment of this season, and all of the loses the Zags suffered, look for them to fight hard next season to get back up to the top of the pack.
The Dons were possibly the most underestimated team in the WCC this season, and proved themselves down the stretch. In the second half of league play and in the WCC tournament the Dons beat Gonzaga, San Diego (twice), Saint Mary’s, and BYU. This put the Dons atop the WCC and landed them a spot in the NCAA tournament. San Francisco loses two players this season. Taylor Proctor, the face of the Dons has graduated and will leave a big gap in the roster. Proctor scored 606 points this season including a stunning three as she was falling over at the buzzer against San Diego in the WCC tournament. This forced overtime where the Dons won. Later in the tournament Proctor played outstanding in the WCC finals against BYU helping her team to a WCC championship. The Dons also lose starting point guard Zhane Dikes. Dikes played the most minutes for the team this season and was always a steady hand. She scored 459 points in her senior campaign. She also played outstanding in the win against BYU, tallying 21 points. The Dons lose their two leading scorers and the biggest names on their team, but they return a strong majority of their lineup, including spark plug Rachel Howard. The Dons finished sixth in league this year but proved themselves come tournament time. Look for them to be strong again this coming season.
The Lions had another tough year and landed in seventh in the WCC. The Lions lose two players. They lose Deanna Johnson, who was a workhorse for the Lions. Johnson played in all but two games this season and averaged 24.6 minutes per game. Johnson shot almost forty percent and tallied 304 points. She also shot the second most free throws on the team and had the highest free throw percentage. The Lions also lose Sophie Taylor, who was their marquee player. Taylor led the Lions in almost every game they played. She played in every single game and averaged 29 minutes per game. Taylor was a force to be reckoned with down low and also made her presence known around the three point line. She tallied 393 points this season while shooting forty four percent from the field and just over thirty percent from behind the arc. Both seniors will leave big holes in the Lions lineup, but the Lions return a young yet experienced roster. They return Leslie Lopez Wood, the Velasco twins, Cheyanne Wallace, Bree Alford and Makenzie Cast, along with a few other players who saw limited minutes. This team is experienced enough to turn their record around next season.
Pacific was another team that had a tough year in the WCC, although their overall record was slightly better than just their run in the WCC. The Tigers did not lose a single player after this past season. Their roster will be very experienced next season as they return star player Hailie Eackles, along with standout freshmen GeAnna Luaulu-Summers, Desire Finnie, and Najah Queenland.
The Waves are in a process of rebuilding their program, and only lose two players. Kelsey Brockway was one of only a few players to appear in every game for the Waves this season. She shot almost fifty percent from the field and tallied 129 points on the season. Keitra Wallace was one of the Waves top scorers this past season. She was a force on the court. Wallace played over 600 minutes this season and racked up 212 points over the course of the season. While the Waves lose two big players, they return a strong majority of their roster. If the Ogwumike sisters and Allie Green can stay healthy next season look for the Waves to make a big run.
Portland landed at the bottom of the league for the second year in a row, but the future could be looking up for the Pilots. The Pilots not only lost their head coach after the 2013-14 season, they also lost a majority of their team. Only two players who were a part of that team are still at Portland. One of those players has graduated and will not be playing with the team next season. That player is Sara Ines Hernandez, and she has no stats from this past season. The rest of Portland’s team is made up of four transfers, three freshmen, and three sophomores who were recruited by the current head coach after the old team followed their coach out. The Pilots are returning seven players who scored over one hundred points this season. Look for both the team and the coaching staff to work hard to pull it together and move up the rankings in the WCC this coming season.