Grand Canyon men’s basketball predicted to win WAC

Oct 17, 2022, 9:01 PM | Updated: Oct 18, 2022, 12:17 pm

Jovan Blacksher Jr. had five points off the bench in the Lopes' loss to Abilene Christian on Saturd...

Jovan Blacksher Jr. had five points off the bench in the Lopes' loss to Abilene Christian on Saturday. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Coaches and media predicted the Grand Canyon Antelopes will win the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) this season.

Last year, the ‘Lopes finished fifth in the conference with a 12-5 conference record under second-year head coach Bryce Drew. However, their 23-8 overall record netted them the second-best winning percentage, behind only New Mexico State — the WAC’s only NCAA tournament representative.

This is the first time preseason voting had GCU as the favorite to win the conference since 2017-18. They finished that season third under then head coach Dan Majerle.

In addition to the positive outlook on the team overall, those two entities also named junior guard Jovan Blacksher Jr. the WAC Preseason Player of the year.

Blacksher is GCU’s third WAC Preseason Player of the Year winner in the past six years, and the first since Alessandro Lever in 2018-19.

A season ago, Blacksher led the team with 15.8 points per game. He also led the team by averaging four assists, 1.7 steals and a 39.4% clip from three-point range (minimum 50 attempts).

Sophomore guard Rayshon Harrison and junior forward Gabe McGlothan both made the coaches’ Preseason All-WAC second team.

Harrison comes to GCU by way of Presbyterian, where he posted consecutive seasons with at least 17 points per game. As for McGlothan, he finished third on the Lopes with 9.3 points per game and fourth in three-point percentage (minimum 50 attempts).

The Lopes look to make a return to March Madness after getting their first taste in 2020-21. Given the preseason projections, there’s at least optimism that can happen.

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