BYU coach Mark Pope, center, is surrounded by his players during a timeout in the Cougars’ 73-62 loss to UCLA in the NCAA Tournament first round at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Saturday, March 20, 2021. Pope team will be near the top of the West Coast Conference, if preseason polls are to be believed. | AJ Mast, Associated Press
Mark Pope will have his BYU men’s basketball team near the top of the West Coast Conference, if preseason polls are to be believed.
The Cougars were picked to finish second in the league’s coaches preseason poll released Thursday, behind national power Gonzaga. BYU had one first-place vote, while the Zags, who finished national runner-up this past season, garnered the other nine.
The Cougars finished second behind Gonzaga in the WCC last season, with a 20-7 overall record and 10-3 conference mark. BYU advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015 and lost to eventual Final Four team UCLA in the first round.
BYU has finished either tied for second or in sole possession of that spot behind Gonzaga in WCC regular-season play each of the past three seasons. The Zags have won nine straight WCC regular-season titles.
The Cougars also placed two players on the 10-man preseason All-WCC team — senior guard Alex Barcello and sophomore forward Caleb Lohner.
Barcello, who earned honorable mention All-America and All-WCC honors last season, averaged 16.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game while shooting 52.3% from the field during the 2020-21 season. He is one of seven seniors on the preseason All-WCC team.
Lohner was named to the 2020-21 WCC all-freshman team, and he is the lone sophomore on the preseason All-WCC team. He averaged 7.0 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game last season and started 13 games as a freshman.
WCC men’s basketball preseason poll
Predicted order of finish, voted on by the coaches
Men’s basketball preseason All-WCC team
Alex Barcello, Sr. G, BYU
Jamaree Bouyea, Sr. G, San Francisco
Logan Johnson, Sr. G, Saint Mary’s
Caleb Lohner, Soph. F, BYU
Andrew Nembhard, Sr. G, Gonzaga
Eli Scott, Sr. G/F, Loyola Marymount
Khalil Shabazz, Sr. G, San Francisco
Drew Timme, Jr. F, Gonzaga
Josip Vrankic, Sr. F, Santa Clara
Jalen Williams, Jr. G, Santa Clara
Source:: Deseret News – Sports News
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