Busting Brackets

WCC Basketball: Biggest winners and losers of 2022 offseason

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JANUARY 6: Kahlil Shabazz #0 of the San Francisco Dons keeps the ball in bounds against the Loyola Chicago Ramblers during the first half of their game January 6, 2022 at the Bruin Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. Due to Covid-19 the teams are playing at the neutral site after some of their games were postponed. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JANUARY 6: Kahlil Shabazz #0 of the San Francisco Dons keeps the ball in bounds against the Loyola Chicago Ramblers during the first half of their game January 6, 2022 at the Bruin Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. Due to Covid-19 the teams are playing at the neutral site after some of their games were postponed. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images) /

After an offseason of notable moves, who would be considered the biggest winners and losers of WCC Basketball over the past few months?

After one of the best seasons in recent memory, WCC Basketball will be a battle yet again. The usual suspects, Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s appear to be safely in a separate tier from the rest of the conference. Still, the middle of the conference remains as contentious as ever with an offseason where programs looked to replace massive turnover at key positions and major minutes.

And players weren’t the only losses for programs as major changes occurred at two programs listed in this winners and losers article. This offseason showed that while there is plenty of parity in the center of the WCC, culture, and stability are not found everywhere. Here are the teams who came out as winners and losers as we wait to see the final touches in the last couple of months before we have west coast basketball once again.

Offseason Winners


This offseason is yet another example of the Cinderella-turned-elite-program zagging while other programs zig. The Bulldogs had a brutal end of the season, failing to meet the expectations of returning to the national championship and finally winning that elusive title.

The Zags lost to Eric Musselman and the Arkansas Razorbacks in the Sweet 16 and again to the Fayetville team when Top 20 recruit Anthony Black rebuked Gonzaga’s crystal ball odds and flipped to the Razorbacks while at the McDonald’s All-American festivities.

And what does Mark Few do after two seasons backed by top-flight one-and-done players Chet Holmgren and Jalen Suggs? He pivots and recruits through the transfer portal. He brings in former five-star recruit Efton Reid from LSU to help shore up the interior. He woos senior Chattanooga guard Malachi Smith after he tested in the NBA.

And most importantly, his guys came back. Drew Timme, the best offensive post scorer in the country, is returning for his junior season. Shooting guard Rasir Bolton, the team’s leading three-point shooter and fastbreak scorer came back for one final season. Potential first-rounder Julian Strawther decided to come back as well.

Couple this and the lack of attrition with nobody transferring out outside Martynas Arlauskus leaving to play professionally, and the Zags return yet again with an absurd amount of firepower yet again.

San Francisco

In a mid-major conference, it is not just additions that can determine whether an offseason is a success or not but retention as well. The Dons lost a few key components from last season. Senior Jamaare Bouyea is now in the NBA with the Heat. Head coach and wunderkid Todd Golden moved on to coach at Florida. But the Dons were able to stave off a cupboard-baring offseason.

Khalil Shabazz elected to return to the hilltop despite a brief venture into the portal. Shabazz is a likely all-conference honors recipient this season with more responsibilities this season. He was terrific sharing the duties with Bouyea and the addition of journeyman scoring guard Tyrell Roberts from WSU should help soften some of Bouyea’s absence.

Similar to Bouyea, the matriculation of Yauhen Massalski will no doubt kneecap the Dons in many ways but they did manage to find a solid replacement in UC-San Diego transfer Toni Rocak. Rocak averaged 15.2 points and 6.5 rebounds last season and will be asked to immediately produce at the next level.

The Dons also kept the head coach position within the program in elevating Chris Gerlufsen to the position. And with so much attrition after a stellar WCC season last year, retaining the culture and minimizing the subtractions could be a win in a wide-open middle of the conference.

Offseason Losers


Pretty much everyone towards the top of the conference last season suffered major losses to their roster. BYU may have suffered the worst setbacks considering the remaining roster construction. In an offseason where Gonzaga, Santa Clara and San Francisco all losing NBA talent, the biggest loss in terms of value very well could be guard Alex Barcello leaving the Cougars.

Barcello averaged 16.8 points on 59% true shooting last year as the do-it-all guard for a team that was pegged by many to finish second in the conference and make the tournament. He accounted for 22% of the shot attempts on the season and if opposing teams were able to neutralize his shooting, the Cougars had no real answers throughout the roster to fill the gap of his scoring. That difficult solution loomed large yet again in the offseason as the Cougars seemingly striking out on every primary target throughout the transfer portal season.

Head coach Mark Pope’s national search for offense resulted in Coastal Carolina and Arkansas transfers Rudi Williams and Jaxson Robinson. Williams was the second-leading scorer for a Coastal Carolina team that finished 7th in the Sun Belt and former top 50 recruit Robinson played in all of 30 games during his first two collegiate seasons at Texas A&M and Arkansas.

What may be just as difficult for Pope to solve is the frontcourt depth woes due to Caleb Lohner and Gavin Baxter choosing to transfer out of the program. Lohner decided to head back to his native Texas by way of Baylor and Baxter chose to leave the Cougs for Utah after missing most of last season due to injury.

Versatile transfer big Noah Waterman will be asked to cover a lot of that loss and Fousseyni Traore showed plenty of ability to be the frontcourt centerpiece last season. Waterman is more of a wing and extreme stretch four, so how he fairs in the paint will be something to look out for. The Cougars appear to be bottoming out before they rebuild in their new digs within the Big 12.

San Diego

This one is complicated because San Diego without, a doubt made headway with the addition of a splashy veteran coach in Steve Lavin which resulted in some crucial additions in the transfer portal.

Notably, that includes former Pac-12 Most Improved Player Jaiden Delaire from Stanford. Delaire immediately becomes a primary weapon for the team that also adds Lehigh bigman Nic Lynch and JUCO All-American Deuce Turner. He also secured leading scorer Marcellus Earlington’s return from the transfer portal. All in all a winning offseason despite the loss of sharpshooter Joey Calcaterra to UConn.

But then word broke that Lavin let go the lone remnants of the previous coaching staff, assistant coach Martin Bahar and San Diego alum and graduate assistant Jose Martinez. Bahar did the majority of the out-of-conference schedule, according to bracketologist and analyst Rocco Miller. The decision seems incredibly callous and alludes to a culture that seems in flux. The 57-year-old Lavin has not coached in seven years and has surrounded himself with a staff with little coaching experience.

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The middle of this conference is truly packed and capable of turning out in many ways. Still, stability and familiarity could be something that trumps headlines and splashy power conference transfers.