The WAC is revamped and has reloaded for the 2021-2022 campaign. Fans and onlookers alike are anxious to see what this new 13-team conference is capable of. With a goal of becoming a mid-major power and multi-bid conference on the horizon, conference leadership was ahead of the expansion curve we now see taking place across the country. But with the job of building a stronger more formidable WAC almost complete, both past and new members shifted to building their new rosters.
For past members hoping to retain or raise their position in the conference, that required leveling up. For new programs that hope to establish a hold on a top spot in their new home, that also required leveling up. So, with the landscape of one of the country’s oldest conferences changing in just one offseason. Players began to flock to the WAC in droves. Each transfer making each program better and making for a more exciting title race.
If you haven’t seen our transfers to keep an eye on article that dropped earlier this week, check it out. There are plenty of talented players on that list fans should be excited about. But the five included in this list are players who are going to give opposing coaches sleepless nights and make immediate impacts for their new squads.
Holland Woods, 6’1 180, Gr. Guard-Grand Canyon
Previous Stop: Arizona State (Pac-12)
2020-2021 Stats: 6.7 PPG, 2.2 RPG & 1.9 APG (25 GMS, 12 Starts in 26.2 MPG)
Holland Woods makes his way to Grand Canyon from nearby Arizona State. The Apollo High School graduate’s homecoming season was spent as a key role player for coach Bobby Hurley. Averaging just 6.7 PPG in 26.2 MPG, his main contribution for the Sun Devils was on the perimeter and as a ball handler. Shooting a career best 31.8% from deep, with an assist to turnover ratio of 2.71. His role in Tempe grew out of necessity as he finished out the season as a starter, finishing the last ten games with increased production with little sacrifice to his efficiency.
Woods brings plenty of experience to this Antelopes squad. As the likely starter alongside Jovan Blacksher, they’ll form one if not the most formidable backcourt duos in the conference. Woods’ impact will be felt when driving the lane, getting fouled and heading to the free throw line. At Portland State, Woods left the Big Sky program with career averages of 14.3 PPG, 5.7 APG & 1.7 SPG. He also logged an impressive 80.6% shooting percentage from the charity stripe. The only possible concern for Grand Canyon might be pairing the 6’1 combo guard with the 5’11 floor general against larger line ups. Yes Woods is a bit undersized, but he’s managed a career average of 1.6 steals per game on the perimeter.
If Bryce Drew gets the same output from Woods that he produced in Portland, this is a home run addition. Otherwise this team is in need of some scoring. But with the departures of the seven-foot Asbjørn Midtgaard (14.2 PPG) and 6-10 Alessandro Lever (13.3 PPG), the teams two leading scorers, the Antelopes style of play is certainly going to speed up. This is where the undersized one-two punch of Woods and Blacksher comes in. And Woods has Newcomer of the Year pedigree written all over him and should fill a big role for the reigning WAC champions.
Teddy Allen, 6’6 225, R-Sr. Forward-New Mexico State
Previous Stop: Nebraska (Big Ten)
2020-2021 Stats: 16.5 PPG, 4.7 RPG & 1.7 APG (27 GMS, 21 Starts in 27.2 MPG)
Teddy Allen may be known to fans across the country as a college basketball journeyman. But in today’s college basketball landscape, this is becoming the norm. Just glance at some other names on the Aggie roster for other examples. Still, Allen makes his way to Las Cruces from Big Ten country, where he spent the 2020-2021 season leading the Nebraska Cornhuskers in scoring (16.5 PPG). His well traveled time in college athletics aside, Allen can hoop. He has done so at every single level he has logged significant minutes. His impact to this borderline top-25 Aggie squad might be what’s needed to get Chris Jans’ program back atop the WAC.
The 6’6 guard has above average size for his position, especially in the WAC. This, paired with a quality shooting touch from beyond the arc (37.6% at Nebraska), makes him difficult to neutralize. Though it can be done, Allen was only held to single digit scoring four times last season. Not to mention a 41-point outburst against Penn State, which saw him go 16-24 from the field and 6-9 from deep. This was an area of concern for New Mexico State last season. As a team they shot 31.6% from 3-point range, while averaging the highest amount of attempts in the conference (27.7 per game). This plan of attack made poor shooting nights twice as tough on the Aggies defensively.
Allen may be the headliner of a very impressive recruiting class, but this squad will address several concerns from last season. With Allen comes scoring, size, shooting and most importantly another go-to option in crunch time. Jabari Rice filled that role in 2019-2020 on a very balanced Aggie squad. But last season, faced with some injuries and more responsibility his efficiency suffered (a 9.1 drop in Orating). Allen will relieve some of that pressure and get Rice back to a similar role as the year prior. I see WAC preseason Player of the Year honors all over Allen, or at least Newcomer of the Year wrapped up. Though the true measure of his success in Las Cruces will come in March and if he can lead the Aggies back to the big dance.
Savion Flagg, 6’7 230, Gr. Forward-Sam Houston
Previous Stop: Texas A&M (SEC)
2020-2021 Stats: 8.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG & 2.3 APG (17 GMS, 8 Starts in 26.5 MPG)
Sam Houston experienced some of the heaviest roster turnover of any of the transitioning Texas Four. Gone is leading scorer and Southland Player of the Year Zach Nutall. Southland Freshman of the Year Bryce Monroe is also gone. With them and a couple of other departures goes 45.6% of their scoring from last season, along with 34.1% of their assists and 31.8% of their rebounding power.
Luckily Jason Hooten wasn’t about to begin a new era of Bearkat basketball with any underdog notion surrounding the program. Several interesting high school and international recruits make up the 2021 Sam Houston recruiting class. But the headliner is former Texas A&M Aggie Savion Flagg. The 6-7 graduate transfer can play multiple positions on the floor. He split his time in College Station between the wing and the four spot, which is where I see his role with Sam Houston perfectly. The immediate impact will aid in all of the concern areas listed above with SEC level size and athleticism. Flagg will join a Bearkat program with no intentions of falling down the conference pecking order in their new home.
Cameron Tyson, 6’2 190, R-Jr. Guard-Seattle
Previous Stop: Houston (AAC)
2020-2021 Stats: 6.2 PPG, 0.9 RPG & 0.4 APG (19 GMS, 1 Start in 10.1 MPG)
Sometimes life may take you on a bit of a journey, and that journey may lead you right back to where you began. This may be the case as Seattle welcomes native son and newcomer Cameron Tyson to their 2021-2022 campaign. The 6’2 shooting guard began his career in the Big Sky at Idaho, to a Final Four at Houston and now to where it all began.
Tyson’s one season in Houston may not look extremely flashy. But averaging 6.2 PPG on 42.9% shooting from the field and 40.7% from deep in just 10.1 MPG for a Final Four squad should make an immediate impact on a promising WAC contender. Especially for a Redhawks team who finished 126th in scoring across the nation (72.9 PPG). They shot poorly from deep, just 31.4% as a whole (285th in the country). Tyson’s addition should help very much. I point to a 32-point performance against Our Lady of the Lake (NAIA) in February where Tyson was 10-18 (55.6%) from beyond the arc. And if the non-DI opponent element is too easy to criticize, I point to a 31-point performance against conference foe Tulane a month earlier where he went 9-15 (60%) from deep.
Seattle’s backcourt may be one of the deepest and most dynamic in the WAC this season. Tyson helped back the AAC Player of the Year also a 1st round NBA Draft pick and the AAC Defensive Player of the Year during his last year in Houston. His addition to an already strong Seattle squad may be just what Jim Hayford needs to secure his first WAC title.
Connor Harding, 6’6 185, Sr. Guard-Utah Valley
Previous Stop: BYU (WCC)
2020-2021 Stats: 5.4 PPG, 2.6 RPG & 1.5 APG (26 GMS, 12 Starts in 20.9 MPG)
Harding may not have been most folks choice to include in a top-5 transfers list. Just look at who he beat out. But Utah Valley experienced some big losses in the offseason. Jamison Overton headed north to Ogden along with double-digit scoring big man Evan Cole, who graduated and moved on. But Mark Madsen still has the nations leading rebounder in Fardaws Aimaq (15.0 RPG) along with Trey Woodbury, who led the team in scoring last season (15.6 PPG). Who emerges as a capable scoring threat beside them? Insert the sharp shooting Harding into the Wolverines rotation, who also has two years of elibility remaining to make his name in Orem. The impact Harding will have on the Wolverines cannot be overstated.
Harding’s career 3-point field goal average is holding strong at 35.9%. As a team, Utah Valley shot 34.6% from deep in 2020-21. However, they netted the lowest total of made 3-pointers (5.3 per game) in the entire WAC. To be fair, that wasn’t exactly their game last season. With two dominant 6-10 big men, a slashing winger like Overton who made most of his living down low and Woodbury doing a little bit of cleanup from everywhere else, 3-point shooting was a bit of a luxury.
But, this team will function differently without some of those aforementioned impact players. So another scoring option to join Woodbury and Le’Tre Darthard (47.1% on 24-51 attempts) should help fill that loss. Plus, historically Cougars transferring into Utah Valley have done pretty well. I don’t see Harding breaking that mold this season.