The Grand Canyon Antelopes return a dynamic backcourt that could help them reach the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row.
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After winning the WAC Championship a season ago, the Grand Canyon Antelopes is fully loaded and looking to repeat as champions, possibly even making a deeper run in the NCAA Tournament.
The Lopes had a good season in 2023, winning 24 games and making it into the NCAA Tournament as a 14 seed via an automatic bid after winning the conference. Grand Canyon, despite being a popular upset pick, fell in the first round to third-seeded Gonzaga, 82-70.
With a lot of returning talent, as well as some good transfers and recruits, GCU does not face a roster issue. They have a team that has shown it is capable of winning a WAC championship, and they did. With another year under their belt, Grand Canyon would most likely declare the season a failure if it ends without a ring.
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Head coach: Bryce Drew (12th season, 4th at Grand Canyon)
2022-23 record: 24-12 (11-7)
2023 postseason finish: Lost in the Round of 64 to Gonzaga
Notable departures: Chance McMillian (transfer), Noah Baumann (graduate), Kobe Knox (transfer)
Notable non-conference games: vs. San Francisco (Nov. 17), vs. San Diego State (Dec. 5)
PG: Jovan Blacksher Jr. (5-11, 165, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 11.0 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 2.5 APG
SG: Rayshon Harrison (6-4, 195, Jr.)
2022-23 stats: 17.8 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 3.6 APG
SF: Josh Baker (6-4, 185, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 5.8 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 2.3 APG
PF: Gabe McGlothan (6-8, 205, Gr.-Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 13.1 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 0.8 APG
C: Lok Wur (6-9, 215, Gr.-Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 2.6 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 0.3 APG (Transfer from Oregon)
6: Collin Moore (6-4, 205, Jr.)
2022-23 stats: 14.2 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.0 APG (Transfer from Georgia State)
7: Sydney Curry (6-8, 270, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 4.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 0.3 APG (Transfer from Louisville)
8: Caleb Shaw (6-5, 205, So.)
2022-23 stats: 5.2 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 0.6 APG (Transfer from Northern Colorado)
9: Duke Brennan (6-10, 250, So.)
2022-23 stats: 2.4 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 0.1 APG (Transfer from Arizona State)
10: Tyon Grant-Foster (6-7, 210, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: DNP
2021-22 stats: 1 game played (Transfer from DePaul)
2020-21 stats: 3.1 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 0.2 APG (Kansas)
11: Malcolm Flaggs (6-6, 210, Rs.-Fr.)
247Sports Composite No. 247 overall recruit in 2022 (Transfer from Arizona State)
12: Noah Amenhouser (7-0, 240, Fr.)
247Sports Composite No. 179 overall recruit
Grand Canyon Antelopes MVP: Rayshon Harrison
Harrison is clearly the big dog for the Lopes, averaging over 17 points a game in his sophomore campaign. The junior guard will improve even more this season, surrounded by returning talent as well as a decent recruiting class and some key transfers.
The Presbyterian transfer is quick and explosive to the lane but can get very crafty with his finishes. He is creative at the rim and scores over any paint protectors. His outside shooting was his weak point a season ago, shooting just 31.7% from beyond the arc, however, that should improve with another year of experience. Harrison finished his season with a 20 point outpour in the Grand Canyon Antelopes loss to Gonzaga in the NCAA Tournament.
Grand Canyon Antelopes make-or-break player: Lok Wur
The Lopes only player with power 6 playing experience is my make-or-break player for this season. Wur did not play much for the Ducks, but the experience and urge to get minutes makes it seem like he is destined for a breakout senior season.
Wur will most likely start for the Lopes, sliding into the center spot. The big man averaged just under 3 points last season at Oregon, but his rim protecting ability will be crucial for a Grand Canyon team who lost some high scoring games last season.
The biggest question for Wur is whether he is a capable college star who had a lot of talent in front of him blocking playing time, or if he is just a 2 point role player wherever he is. For GCU’s sake, they hope it is the former, helping them get back on their way to a WAC championship.
Key analytic: 228th in Assist to Turnover Ratio
Last year, the Lopes averaged more turnovers than assists, according to teamrankings.com. GCU had an assist to turnover ratio of just 0.96, well below college basketball’s average of about 1.3. Turning the ball over is not the Lopes problem, though, rather converting on passes rather than relying on a playmakers ability.
The key for GCU this year is to take care of the ball, which they do, only averaging 11 turnovers per contest last season, but making sure to facilitate well. Harrison should not have to create shots on his own, and the team cannot win like they did last season without sharing the ball. There is simply too much talent on the roster to not share the wealth, and I look at the Grand Canyon Antelopes’ ratio to show how well they really are passing the basketball.
Projected conference finish: 1st in WAC
Projected postseason ceiling: NCAA Tournament – Round of 32