California Baptist Lancers – 2020-21 Season Preview and Breakdown

California Baptist is reloading for 2020-21.
California Baptist guard Ty Rowell will be the floor leader for head coach Rick Croy after missing most of the 2019-20 season due to an ACL injury. Courtesy CBU Athletics.

California Baptist lost a lot in 2019-20. WAC Player of the Year Milan Acquaah is pursuing a professional career. Ferron Flavors Jr. and Bul Kuol both transferred to other programs. Brandon Boyd, Zach Pirog and De’Jon Davis all exhausted their eligibility. So, if you are counting, California Baptist lost its top six players from a 21-win season. Not many teams can recover from that especially in the following season.

However, head coach Rick Croy has the benefit of the transfer portal at his fingertips. During the offseason, Croy and his staff made great use of that portal. Two graduate transfers along with a Power 6 transfer join the Lancers for 2020-21. Add in a pair of freshman and a redshirt junior coming back from an ACL injury suffered in December and California Baptist seems like they have just reloaded

Listen to what Rick Croy has to say about the 2020-21 season.

Key departures 

Milan Acquaah, De’Jon Davis, Brandon Boyd, Zach Pirog, Ferron Flavors Jr., Bul Kuol

Five starters and the sixth man. Add in that these six players accounted for 81.7 percent of the Lancers scoring in 2019-20 and this is tough to replace. Acquaah is the reigning WAC Player of the Year. De’Jon Davis is an All-WAC second team selection while Brandon Boyd was the WAC Newcomer of the Year.

These six players led California Baptist to a 21-10 overall record in 2019-20. 21 wins is the most ever for a team transitioning to the Division I level. Acquaah, Davis, and Pirog have also done something no other WAC team has over the past two seasons. The trio beat New Mexico State in the Lancers’ first WAC game in January, 2019.

Seeing this would make one believe it is a rebuilding year in Riverside. 

Key returners

Tre Armstrong, Ty Rowell, Reed Nottage

Rowell is expected to be the starting point guard. In December, Rowell suffered a season-ending ACL injury. Prior to the injury, Rowell was averaging 8.1 points and 1.9 assists per game. Armstrong and Nottage both played in all 31 games during their freshman season. According to Rick Croy, they both got a lot of experience, and understand what they are trying to accomplish at California Baptist.

Key newcomers 

Malik Wade, Russell Barlow, Gorjok Gak, Elijah Thomas

Rick Croy brought in two graduate transfers in Gojok Gak (Florida) and Elijah Thomas (Saint Mary’s). Gak is a 6’11 center that adds a lot of depth on the interior along with TCU transfer Russell Barlow. Thomas is an experienced guard who played in 83 games while at Saint Mary’s. The last time Rick Croy brought in a guard that transfer ended up being an All-WAC selection and WAC Player of the Year. Wade is a 6-8 freshman that is going to contribute immediately. The 235-pound power forward has the ability to play multiple positions and comes from the NBA Academy in Mexico City, Mexico. 

Head Coach 

Rick Croy, 8th season 

Projected starters

PG – Ty Rowell, RS Junior, 6’2, 190 pounds

SG – Elijah Thomas, GR, 6’5, 220 pounds

SF – Malik Wade, Freshman, 6’8, 235 pounds

PF – Makhtar Gueye, Senior, 6’9, 210 pounds

C – Gorjok Gak, GR, 6’11, 235

Projected Finish in WAC standings

Sixth

What to expect

Once again, CBU won 20-plus games at the Division I level. The Lancers were 21-10 overall and 10-6 in WAC play. Up to that point in the season, California Baptist had the biggest non-conference win when the Lancers beat UC Irvine on the road on Dec. 7. The biggest problem facing the Lancers in 2020-21 is nearly an entirely new roster. All five starters are gone from 2019-20 including WAC Player of the Year Milan Acquaah. Mr. Do-Everything De’Jon Davis is gone to the professional ranks. Ferron Flavors Jr. transferred to Oklahoma State and sixth man Bul Kuol transferred to Detroit for his final season. Brandon Boyd and Zach Pirog both ran out of eligibility. So there are a lot of new faces in Riverside. 

According to Rick Croy, the transfer portal is a useful tool but it is about finding the right players rather than the best. The fit is what is important and Croy believes that Gak, Thomas and Barlow all fit the mold of what California Baptist is trying to accomplish. It remains to be seen, but with a whole new starting five and losing 87 percent of your scoring from a 21-win team, it’s hard to put the Lancers higher in the preseason standings. That doesn’t mean they won’t finish higher. It’s just a projection right now. 

 

About Kyle McDonald 103 Articles
Love everything about WAC Hoops so decided I wanted to write more about it and cover this amazing conference that just keeps getting better. Follow us on Twitter @wachoopsdigest for information, game analysis and much more.

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