Grand Canyon
GCU guard and WAC Tournament MVP Jovan Blacksher Jr. has a big role to play if GCU is to return to the NCAA Tournament in 2021-22. Courtesy GCU Athletics.
Jovan Blacksher Jr. is back from another season at GCU where the Lopes made the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history in 2020-21. Courtesy GCU Athletics.
Grand Canyon News

Grand Canyon Men’s Basketball 2021-22 Season Preview

Grand Canyon is the reigning WAC Tournament champion. And Grand Canyon is one of the reigning WAC regular season co-champions. How long have Lopes fans been waiting to make that claim? In his first season as head coach at Grand Canyon, Bryce Drew did what Dan Majerle couldn’t. Drew led GCU to the NCAA Tournament. Sure, there are some who say an asterisk need to be put by the season. It happens as there is a lot of disdain for the university.

But, anyway you look at it, GCU won the WAC Tournament and represented the WAC at the NCAA Tournament. Drew brought in Wichita State big man Asbjørn Midtgaard who shot nearly 70 percent from the floor. Drew inherited Alessandro Lever, Oscar Frayer and Mikey Dixon. So, the talent was there. Just needed a coach to guide the way. And Drew did that in a big way. Question is, in a revamped WAC, can the Lopes do it again?

Head Coach

Bryce Drew, 2nd season
Overall: 181-115
At GCU: 17-7
Postseason: WAC Tourney Champs, NCAA Round of 64

Key Departures

Asbjørn Midtgaard, 7-0, GR, C
Alessandro Lever, 6-10, SR, F
Oscar Frayer, 6-6, RSR, G/F
Mikey Dixon, 6-2, RSR, G

Key Newcomers

Holland Woods, 6-1, SR, G, (Arizona State)
Taeshon Cherry, 6-8, SR, F (Arizona State)
Kobe Knox, FR, G, Tampa, FL
Jalen Blackmon, FR, G, Marion, IN
Aidan Igiehon, 6-10, JR, F, Louisville
Yvan Ouedraogo, 6-9, JR, F (Nebraska)
Walter Ellis, 6-5, SR, G (Bucknell)

Key Returners

Jovan Blacksher Jr., 5’11, JR, G (WACT MVP)
Sean Miller-Moore, 6-4, GR, G
Chance McMillian, 6-3, SO, G
Gabe McGlothan, 6-7, RJR, F

Predicted WAC Finish

Third

Breakdown

Yes, GCU loses a lot in four starters. Replacing Asbjørn Midtgaard and Alessandro Lever is going to be difficult. Mikey Dixon provided some offensive fireworks but was known more for managing the game. And Oscar Frayer, may he RIP, was know for his high-flying, athleticism all while doing things with a smile on his face.

But make no mistake, Bryce Drew has reloaded his roster for the 2021-22 season. Holland Woods has played over 1,000 minutes of college basketball at the highest levels. Taeshon Cherry is looking for a fresh start for the Lopes. And Drew added size in Igiehon and Ouedraogo. Walter Ellis is a sharpshooter and can light it up from anywhere on the floor. Ouedraogo got some high-quality experience this Summer, leading France to its best-ever finish at the FIBA U19 World Cup.

But, Woods might have the biggest impact on this team. Teaming up with All-WAC guard Jovan Blacksher Jr., this guard combo is elite and will cause nightmares for the opposition.

Let’s not forget that GCU returns perhaps the Sixth Man of the Year in Gabe McGlothan. If you didn’t watch a GCU game in 2020-21, you missed out. McGlothan was a rebounding machine coming off the bench and provided enough offensive spark that changed the complexity of games at times. If Drew is smart, which I like to believe he is, McGlothan will continue to come off the bench and be that spark.

“Everyone on this team is extremely talented,” Holland Woods said in an article by GCU Insider Paul Coro. “It’s just about everyone figuring out their roles once the season starts and falling into place. The best part is that we’re a deep team. I think, when anyone’s number is called, we’ll be ready.”

Sean Miller-Moore is also returning. The big strong guard at 6-4, Miller-Moore provides some flexibility where he can play multiple positions because of his size. Plus, it is always good to have a veteran on the floor. GCU has a lot of those. There aren’t a lot of underclassmen that will see the floor for the Lopes in 2021-22. Chance McMillian will get his minutes. Freshmen duo Jalen Blackmon and Kobe Knox should get time on the floor as well. But, GCU will rely heavily on Blacksher Jr. and Woods along with the other Division I transfers to win games.

Scheduling News

Right now, the most we know about the schedule for Grand Canyon is the Jerry Colangelo Classic where the Lopes take on San Francisco of the WCC. There is also supposed to be a game at Arizona State as a return trip from the game at GCU Arena last season. More information will be coming out soon.

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