The Saint Mary’s Gaels look to take down Gonzaga in WCC and find their ticket to the NCAA Tournament.
As is tradition, CBB Review again ranks the top 100 teams heading into the new college basketball season. We will reveal the next team each day until we reach the team slotted at number one. Follow along with #CBBRank on all our social media channels.
Losing the star of this team to graduation and being a part of the San Antonio Spurs, Logan Johnson has left the Saint Mary’s Gaels with some capable leaders. This was a tough loss. The Gaels also lost a forward in Kyle Bowen to graduation.
However, the impressive players of Alex Ducas, Mitchell Saxen, and last year’s surprise in Aiden Mahaney are ready to take over. The one coming in to replace Johnson looks like the 4-star freshman recruit in Jordan Ross. This was among the few teams that did not mess with the transfer portal. Outside Ducas, Saxen, and Forbes, all the other players have at least two years of eligibility left—a young team with a ton of upside with the increased usage and talent of Aidan Mahaney.
Two other freshmen outside of Jordan Ross are surprising adds, but players could be redshirted. Andrew McKeever is a 7-1 player set up to be a beast. With a year of working on his footwork and learning to play against better talent, he could dominate. The other is Jensen Bradkte, a 6-10 player from Australia. He is another big project. Bradkte has talent and a nice 3-pointer but has some growing to do. He is a little late on defensive reads and slow to move toward the basket on shots. Bradkte cleans it up for an easy two when he is in the right spot.
Click here to learn more about our preseason top 100 teams heading into the 2023-24 college basketball season.
Head coach: Randy Bennett (23rd season, all with Saint Mary’s)
2022-23 record: 27-8 (14-2)
2023 postseason finish: Lost to UConn, 70-55, in second round of NCAA Tournament
Notable departures: Logan Johnson (NBA), Kyle Bowen (Graduated)
Notable nonconference games: vs. New Mexico (Nov. 9), vs. San Diego State (Nov. 17), at Colorado State (Dec. 9)
PG: Jordan Ross (6-3, 175, Fr.)
247Sports Composite No. 127 rated recruit
SG: Aidan Mahaney (6-3, 180, So.)
2022-23 stats: 13.9 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.9 SPG, 40.0 3P%
SF: Augustas Marciulionis (6-4, 185, Jr.)
2022-23 stats: 5.9 PPG, 1.6 APG, 1.2 RPG
PF: Alex Ducas (6-6, 215, Gr.-Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 12.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.0 APG, 43.3 FG%, 41.4 3P%
C: Mitchell Saxen (6-10, 220, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 11.6 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.2 BPG, 55.7 FG%
6: Luke Barrett (6-6, 190, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 2.4 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 0.2 SPG, 36.0 3P%
7: Josh Jefferson (6-8, 205, So.)
2022-23 stats: 2.2 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 0.5 APG
8: Cade Bennett (6-0, 170, Rs.-Fr.)
2022-23 stats: N/A
9: Harry Wessels (7-1, 255, So.)
2022-23 stats: 2.6 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 0.3 APG, 59.6 FG%
10: Chris Howell (6-6, 180, Rs-So.)
2022-23 stats: 0.6 PPG, 0.4 RPG, 0.1 APG
11: Rory Hawke (6-5, 190, Rs.-Fr.)
2022-23 stats: N/A
12: Mason Forbes (6-9, 230, Rs.-Sr.)
2022-23 stats: N/A
Saint Mary’s Gaels MVP: Aidan Mahaney
No surprise, the new star of Aidan Mahaney made himself known last year. Making the All-WCC first team and WCC All-Freshman team, he came out firing and played well for a freshman. Unfortunately, Mahaney’s stats were solid: ninth in field goals made (181) and eighth in 3-point field goals made (74). The advanced stats are where he shows up: he was sixth in defensive win shares (1.8), eighth in defensive rating (99.1), tenth in usage percentage (25.7), and tenth in effective field goal percentage (51.5%). This was volume-based, as Mahaney had a lot of attempts but was also making many of his shots.
Mahaney is set up for success. He is set up for more minutes with Logan Johnson leaving and no real threat to his playing time. With another year of playing experience and training, Mahaney should compete for the WCC Player of the Year.
Saint Mary’s Gaels make-or-break player: Jordan Ross
Logan Johnson’s replacement looks to be a 4-star stud in Jordan Ross. He is a point guard who has good footwork and a silky shot. Ross will likely be tossed into a starting role. The transition from high school to D1 basketball will be a leap. Aidan Mahaney may take some of the ball handling while Ross gets acclimated. The worry is that the pressure may be a lot for the freshman. Many players get thrust into a role and are not ready for the pressure and talent level of their competitors.
Key analytic: Adjusted Tempo
A theme of last year’s teams that won many games was teams that controlled tempo. Saint Mary’s was in the top 10 in the slowest pace, ranking 359th. The Gaels held the rate, and the scoring efficiency and 3-point ability made it difficult for other teams to defend. Grinding a game out with the complete clock being used, the worry is again Jordan Ross. The slow play style could benefit him and allow him to develop.
Saint Mary’s Gaels 2023-24 projections
Projected conference finish: 2nd in the West Coast Conference
Projected postseason ceiling: NCAA Tournament – Elite 8 Exit