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9 players to watch out for in the WCC

With conference play about to start, let’s look at the players who will lead their teams this season.

NCAA Basketball: Santa Clara at Southern California Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

After a week long Holiday break, the Zags will begin their WCC slate against Pacific on 12/28.

As we get adjusted to the WCC, there will be a lot of new faces for us to break down. Below is one player from each WCC team for Gonzaga fans to pay attention to. While their may not be a Jared Brownridge, Alec Wintering, Anthony Ireland or Johnny Dee in this group, a bevy of junior college transfers and new freshmen will make up the next wave of solid guard play in the West Coast Conference.

BYU: Elijah Bryant

Zag fans may recognize the Bryant, the junior guard who scored double-digit points against them twice last year. Bryant came to BYU after one year at Elon University. He averaged 11.7 points last season, including going off for 39 against Portland.

This season, Bryant has upped the ante. He is averaging 17.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. He has been red hot all season, shooting 47% from the field, 45% from the three point line and 88% from the charity stripe.

BYU earned a big win against PAC-12 opponent Utah last week, and it was all thanks to Bryant. He had 29 points on 8-13 shooting, including 5-7 from three and 8-8 from the line.

BYU will once again be one of Gonzaga’s primary foes in the WCC, and Bryant will be a big reason why.

LMU: James Batemon

LMU dropped a close game to UW last week, 80-77. They are 5-5 on the season thanks largely in part to junior college transfer James Batemon. Batemon is a 6’1 guard out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is averaging 18.1 points, 4.8 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game.

He has been red-hot his last three games, scoring 26, 25 and 29 points against Portland State, Cal-State Northridge and UW.

Batemon is a high-volume shooter, similar to former LMU point guard Anthony Ireland. LMU should not give the Zags much trouble, but Batemon will get his points regardless.

Pacific: Roberto Gallinat

Pacific dropped a close game to UNLV last week to push them to 5-7 on the year. Their leading scorer is junior college transfer Roberto Gallinat. Gallinat is a 6’3 combo guard. He’s averaging 14.3 points and had 20 against the Running Rebels.

Gallinat is only shooting 35.7% from downtown on the year, but that has not stopped him from shooting (4.7 attempts per game). If he were to get hot, Pacific could keep the game pretty close next week. However, if the Zags are able to shut him down they shouldn’t have too much trouble.

Pepperdine: Colbey Ross

Our first freshmen on the list is on the 3-9 Pepperdine Waves. While he is not their leading scorer, freshmen guard Colbey Ross is the best playmaker on the young Pepperdine team. He is averaging 13.7 points and 5.4 assists per game. He is good at getting to the free throw line and even better at converting, having made 48-53 attempts on the year, good for 90.6%.

It is going to be a rough year for Pepperdine, but having a freshmen point guard who is already capable of leading the team bodes well for them in years to come.

Portland: Marcus Shaver jr.

Our second freshmen guard is Portland’s Marcus Shaver Jr. Shaver started off the year a bit rocky but has come on as of late, scoring 20 against SeattleU and 17 against Hartford in the last two games. He is averaging 11.6 points per game on the year. Shaver is still struggling to find his stroke, hitting 18 threes out of 60 attempts. He has gotten much better at driving the lane and drawing the foul, where his 86% shooting helps him rack up points.

He is not the playmaker that Alec Wintering was, but if he learns how to drive and dish and his outside shot starts falling more consistently he will be a force in the WCC a few years down the road.

Saint Mary’s: Jock Landale

This one is no surprise as the Gaels have ridden junior center Jock Landale to a 10-2 record this season. Landale has been a beast, averaging 21 points and 9.6 rebounds on the year. He is shooting 64.3% from the field.

Landale has continued to get better and better and without the interior presence of Pryzemek Karnowski and Zach Collins, the Zags will have a tough time with him this season.

With Emmett Naar and Calvin Hermanson still on board as well, SMC will keep things interesting against the Zags this season. Landale will likely hear his name called in the NBA Draft next June, especially if he keeps playing like this.

Santa Clara: KJ Feagin

Another familiar face, Santa Clara returns junior guard KJ Feagin. Feagin has started and played over 30 minutes per game since his freshmen year. His stats have continued to improve. He averaged 11.4 his freshmen year and 14.6 last year. He is averaging 18.5 points this season on 50.7% shooting, the highest of his career.

The 6’1 guard has done a better job of getting to the line this season. He is averaging 3.2 FTA per game, up from 1.7 last year.

The Broncos don’t have many options on offense, so look for Feagin to be the guy doing most of the shooting when they face the Zags.

University of San Diego: Isaiah Pineiro/Wright

The upstart Toreros of USD suffered a tough loss to North Texas last week, spoiling a week where they also defeated PAC-12 opponent Colorado. San Diego is led by two transfers named Isaiah.

Isaiah Pineiro is averaging 15.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.

Isaiah Wright is averaging 13.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game.

Pineiro transferred to USD after playing one year at Portland State. The 6’7 forward had 23 points in USD’s win over New Mexico State and has been one of the better big men in the conference.

Wright transferred from Utah where he played sparingly in two seasons. The 6’2 guard had 20 points against Colorado and is also averaging 1.6 steals per game.

Between the two Isaiah’s and returning guard Olin Carter, USD looks primed to make a push for number three in the conference, potentially upsetting BYU.

University of San Francisco: Souley Boum

The 7-4 Dons play a deep rotation this season. No player on their team is averaging more than 30 minutes per game. One of their best scorers is coming off the bench this season. Freshmen combo guard Souley Boum has not started a game yet this year. However, he is averaging 14.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.

He is a volume scorer, in the same vein as Gonzaga’s Zach Norvell. His primary strength is his free throw shooting, where he is shooting 91.4%. He has also knocked down 50% of his three-pointers.

The Dons have gotten scoring from a lot of different players, so it is hard to predict who will show up when they play Gonzaga. Don’t rule out the freshmen Boum, even if he is coming off the bench.