NCAAM Teams
C.L. Brown, ESPN Staff Writer 431d

Transfers to Gonzaga are top WCC newcomers

Men's College Basketball, Gonzaga Bulldogs, BYU Cougars, Loyola Marymount Lions, Pepperdine Waves

Newcomers don't take long to impact college basketball -- not in this world of one-and-dones and transfers. Over the next two weeks, we will look at the top five newcomers in each of the 10 biggest conferences.

Next up is the West Coast Conference.

The West Coast Conference is still old school when it comes to newcomers. The league's freshmen don't often get the same opportunities to step right into a lineup and excel as their counterparts in the Power 5 leagues.

Only one freshman, BYU's Nick Emery, ranked among the WCC's top 15 scorers last season. There were none among the top 15 rebounders or leaders in field goal percentage. The newcomers most likely to have an immediate impact in the league are transfers. There will be exceptions, like San Francisco freshman Charles Minlend and Saint Mary's redshirt freshman Tanner Krebs. But by and large, freshmen have to wait their turn to carry the conference banner.

Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga Bulldogs

Gonzaga got most of its scoring from the frontcourt last season; Williams-Goss is a reason why that won't be the case this season. The 6-foot-3 Washington transfer is an explosive scoring point guard. As a sophomore, Williams-Goss scored 20 or more points seven times for the Huskies. That's one more than Gonzaga's guard trio last season of Josh Perkins, Eric McClellan and Kyle Dranginis combined. With McClellan and Dranginis gone, Williams-Goss will be a welcome addition.

Gonzaga will have several other options on offense, so Williams-Goss might not end up taking as many shots as he did at Washington. With that being the case, he'll be looking to improve his 3-point shooting percentage after watching it drop from 35.6 percent as a freshman to just 25.6 percent as a sophomore.

Williams-Goss could push Perkins, a rising sophomore, for the starting spot at point guard, or coach Mark Few could trot out a lineup where the two play alongside each other. Perkins started every game last season as a true freshman and averaged 10.1 points and 4.1 assists.

Jordan Mathews, Gonzaga Bulldogs

Mathews surprised many in the Bay Area when he announced he was graduating early and transferring from California to play his final season elsewhere. The 6-3 sharpshooter was expected to keep defenses honest for Cal center Ivan Rabb. Mathews shot 42 percent from 3-point range last season while averaging 13.5 points per game for the Golden Bears.

He'll have a chance to do the same at Gonzaga. With the return of center Przemek Karnowski and the addition of freshman Zach Collins, a McDonald's All American who was No. 37 in the ESPN 100, the Bulldogs will have an inside-outside combination that will be tough to defend.

Mathews gives Few a proven backcourt veteran who has come up big in big games. His season-high 28 points last season came in the Bears' 74-73 win over Arizona, which saw him tie a career-high with six 3-pointers. Matthews and Williams-Goss will bring the kind of firepower the backcourt was missing last season.

Eric Mika, BYU Cougars

This might be cheating a little because Mika started 29 games for the Cougars in 2013-14. But two years off the floor in college basketball can seem like an eternity.

Mika served on a church mission in Italy before returning to Utah in April. Before his hiatus, the 6-10 forward ranked No. 28 in the Class of 2013, the highest-rated player the Cougars signed since the ESPN 100 began in 2007.

Mika averaged 11.8 points and 6.4 rebounds as a freshman and was named to the league's all-freshman team. He's especially skilled as an offensive rebounder where he set a school record for most offensive boards in a season (93). Having physically matured over the past two years, he's primed to reintroduce himself to the rest of the league. Mika should also serve as a good mentor for forward Yoeli Childs, who ranked No. 53 in the 2016 ESPN 100 and is one of six freshmen in the 30th-ranked class.

Trevor Manuel, Loyola Marymount Lions

If you've followed Manuel's career you know he doesn't stay in one place for long. The Lansing, Michigan, native played for three high schools: He was a teammate of Denzel Valentine at Sexton High, spent his junior season at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia and finished back home in Lansing at Everett High, the alma mater of one Earvin "Magic" Johnson.

Manuel shunned Michigan State, USC and Florida State to sign with Oregon. But he played just nine games as a true freshman before deciding to transfer. Manuel will play for his fifth different coach in the past five years.

LMU might finally feel like home for the 6-9 forward. Manuel is in many ways the prototype athletic forward who should make for a good fit in coach Mike Dunlap's system. He's skilled enough to step outside or rumble in the paint.

The Lions won't have Manuel in the rotation until the end of the fall semester, but they're anticipating key contributions from him. Along with 6-11 Hawaii transfer Stefan Jovanovic, Manuel will help the Lions' frontcourt become more formidable.

Chris Reyes, Pepperdine Waves

Reyes, like BYU's Mika, will get the welcome back treatment from the WCC as he's not entirely a newcomer. He spent his freshman season in 2012-13 at Saint Mary's as a redshirt but never took the court for the Gaels. He spent a year playing junior college ball before joining Utah.

Now Reyes is back in the league as a graduate transfer, and the timing is perfect for the Waves. Pepperdine lost both its starting forwards (Stacy Davis and Jett Raines) to graduation. That's why Reyes' numbers at Utah don't mean too much now. His minutes dropped from 15.7 to 8.4 per game for the Utes and he averaged just 2.6 points and 2.3 rebounds last season, both slightly down from his sophomore season. But he'll have a greater opportunity to stay on the floor and contribute for the Waves than he did in Utah.

Reyes is following a good precedent for grad transfers at Pepperdine. The last one the Waves accepted was Brendan Lane, a UCLA transfer, who was the WCC's 2014 Defensive Player of the Year.

^ Back to Top ^