The month of October is nearly here, and while the rest of the country may be a little more focused on college football’s return. We at WAC Hoops Digest are just getting started with our offseason analysis content. The offseason was indeed very kind to the WAC. Four new members and a flood of incoming talented transfers are making for a very anticipated 2021-2022 season.
Fans around the country are taking notice, as the level of quality programs in the conference has increased and those returning have been leveling up as preparation. Yes, back are conference heavy weights New Mexico State, Grand Canyon and Utah Valley. But officially welcomed, here to stay and primed to win championships are newbies such as Abilene Christian, Sam Houston State Stephen F. Austin. Players around the country must have also been taking notice of the WAC’s desire to become a powerful mid-major conference. As dozens of talented players have since found a new home from Beaumont to Seattle.
So as we continue to look at rosters from top to bottom in preparation for the start of the season, here is a look at twenty transfers to keep an eye on during what is set to be an exciting year of WAC hoops.
Daniel Akin, 6’9 220, Gr. Forward-California Baptist
Previous Stop: UMBC (American East)
2020-2021 Stats: 7.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG & 0.8 BPG (16 GMS, 5 Starts in 22.4 MPG)
The California Baptist Lancers certainly retained plenty of talent from last season’s 4th place team. The biggest hole coach Rick Croy needed to fill was the departure of Gorjok Gak. I think they have that taken care of (read on), but Daniel Akin should provide strong depth to the position and maybe even play some minutes at the four if needed against larger lineups.
Akin brings length, bounce and the ability to get up and go when necessary. I don’t see him moving the versatile Elijah Thomas out of that combo forward role too often, because it simply works. But the addition of a quality Division-I big man is always a win in my book. Especially given the elevation of the WAC in just one year. The depth Akin will bring is surely needed if Coach Croy and his group look to stay relevant as a top-5 team going forward. It certainly compliment a dangerous backcourt and depth at the wing position to challenge it’s conference foes.
Chance Hunter, 6’6 190, Sr. Guard-California Baptist
Previous Stop: Long Beach State (Big West)
2020-2021 Stats: 12.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG & 1.2 APG (16 GMS, 16 Starts in 30.9 MPG)
Hunter is joining one of best returning backcourts in the WAC this season. With four returning starters, all averaging 10.6 PPG or higher. The 6’6 guard will certainly challenge for starting minutes at times, but it will certainly be a feat as the Lancer’s sixth man Mark Carbone (led team with 43.3% from deep) also returns. Either way, coach Croy’s addition of Hunter is a testament to the program he is building out west and Cal Baptist’s impending campaign for a top spot atop the WAC. After some inconsistent spells got the better of them last season, due in part to nearly no depth coming off of the bench. If anything Hunter is joined by several other additions on this list to better that problem.
Pavel Zakharov, 7’0 235, Jr. Center-California Baptist
Previous Stop: Gonzaga (WCC)
2020-2021 Stats: 0.8 PPG & 0.4 RPG (10 GMS, 0 Starts in 10.0 MPG)
Zakharov was a top-60 recruit coming out of the well known Montverde Academy back in 2019. Though his two seasons in Spokane were filled with a pandemic ending freshman campaign, only to be followed up with a shortcoming in the National Finals. Still, with just twenty-eight minutes logged in a near championship campaign you could imagine the seven-foot Russian might want to stick around for a finale performance, right? Instead with the return of Drew Timme and Anton Watson along with the arrivals Chet Holmgren, Kaden Perry and Ben Gregg to boot appears too much. The Russian International big decided to look for a new home, somewhere he could find more playing time.
He will find that in Riverside, as the Lancers are looking to replace 2nd-team all-WAC and all-WAC defensive team member Gorjok Gak. Who opted to pursue a professional career after a stellar one season at California Baptist after transferring in from Florida. Zakharov may be the second transfer center in two seasons to help anchor the paint and lead Rick Croy’s squad to a top-half conference finish.
Aiden Igiehon, 6’10 245, Jr. Forward-Grand Canyon
Previous Stop: Louisville (ACC)
2020-2021 Stats: 2.6 PPG, 1.6 RPG & 0.2 BPG (5 GMS, 0 Starts in 8.2 MPG)
Big man Aiden Igiehon was a huge addition for Bryce Drew in an offseason that saw his starting frontcourt depart in AsbJorn Midtgaard (14.2 PPG & 9.7 RPG) and Alessandro Lever (13.3 PPG & 5.4 RPG). The Irish big man is a physical specimen no doubt, and in the WAC he will find minutes based on his size and athleticism alone.
Though his raw traits were exposed during his two years in Louisville. And any further development was halted by injuries last season. But if anyone can take a healthy Igiehon, and turn him into an all-conference caliber player it’s coach Drew. Just take a look at Midtgaard before arriving in Phoenix last season. Averaging just 1.5 PPG & 1.2 RPG in just 8.0 MPG at Wichita State. Now he is fresh off of an NBA Summer League invite with the Orlando Magic as the first Antelope of GCU’s Division-I era to receive an invitation. So, with the right coach and an NBA ready body he will have his impact in the WAC, I think he’s found that combo in Phoenix.
Yvan Ouedraogo, 6’9 245, Jr. Forward-Grand Canyon
Previous Stop: Nebraska (Big Ten)
2020-2021 Stats: 3.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG & 0.5 BPG (22 GMS, 4 Starts in 14.9 MPG)
Ouedraogo like Igiehon finds his fresh start in the desert. The 6’9 Frenchman was a part of a couple of single-digit win producing Cornhusker squads during his time in Lincoln. But he certainly is a high major talent with a big frame, strength and international experience. While players around the WAC were getting an actual taste of a true offseason this summer, Ouedraogo was winning a silver medal at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup.
There he averaged 8.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals in just 23.2 MPG, including 3.4 offensive boards per game, third in the competition. Ouedraogo shared froncourt duties with 7-2 center Victor Wembanyama, who after a strong tournament has seen his name rise up 2023 NBA Mock Drafts. The experience and development itself appears positive for the 19-year-old big man. I think he could very much find himself on an NBA trajectory. With further development in Phoenix and after going toe-to-toe against some of college basketball’s best in Team USA.
Taeshon Cherry, 6’8 230, Senior Forward-Grand Canyon
Previous Stop: Arizona State (Pac-12)
2020-2021 Stats: 3.9 PPG, 2.3 RPG & 0.4 BPG (7 GMS, 3 Starts in 16.0 MPG)
Cherry has found his way to Phoenix after a stop in nearby Tempe first. The former Sun Devil appears to like the state of Arizona, as his next destination wasn’t too far away. The 6’8 combo forward and former top-40 recruit was in need of a change of scenery after two-and-a-half seasons at Arizona State. That time was spent with several ups and downs for Cherry, starting eleven of his 25 appearances in 2019-2020. But making only 7 appearances total (3 starts) this past season before taking a season ending leave of absence mid-way through the year.
For me, Cherry’s skillset, size and athleticism makes him a mismatch nightmare in the WAC. If he can bounce back from the injuries experienced in Tempe, and find his place in Bryce Drew’s lineup, he has all-conference potential written all over him. Depending on who lines up at the five for coach Drew, Cherry could compliment them nicely as a big body (6’8 230) who could take the ball outside if necessary.
Walter Ellis, 6’5 190, Sr. Guard-Grand Canyon
Previous Stop: Bucknell (Patriot League)
2020-2021 Stats: 8.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.7 APG & 1.2 SPG (12 GMS, 12 Starts in 27.8 MPG)
Ellis is a quality sharpshooting edition to the Antelopes squad this season. Grand Canyon definitely flourished under first year head coach Bryce Drew. Completing a sweep of the regular season and conference tournament championships, and reaching the NCAA Tournament in year one. As impressive as that was, now coach Drew has to follow his own performance. He returns some key players from last year’s squad, but will focus on some key additions to the roster to finish high in a revamped WAC.
Ellis is one of those key additions this offseason, but surrounded by some high major transfers may have gotten lost in transfer buzz shuffle. Though I think he will play a huge part of the Antelopes title repeat campaign. Given a glance at the depth of the wing position, Ellis appears to be the most proven and capable scorer with a career three-point shooting average of 37.7%.
Jordyn Adams, 6’3 200, Jr. Guard-Lamar
Previous Stop: Austin Peay (OVC)
2020-2021 Stats: 9.4 PPG, 2.6 RPG & 2.2 APG (20 GMS, 17 Starts in 28.3 MPG)
Bringing Adams to Lamar was one of Alvin Brooks first wins as head coach in Beaumont. The 6’3 combo guard had a splendid freshman campaign in Clarksville back in 2019-2020. Averaging 17.4 PPG, 3.2 RPG & 2.1 APG, but his second year at Austin Peay wasn’t exactly as fruitful. Still, Adams is a quality player who is returning to his home state of Texas to begin anew.
At Lamar he joins a returning leading scorer Davion Buster and Kasen Harrison, who both combined to averaged 28.1 PPG last season. With both guards returning I see Adams filling the role of the departed Anderson Kopp (Kansas City) on the wing. I think his debut in the Montagne Center should be the birth of a dangerous three-headed attack for coach Brooks. I don’t think any opposing coaches could win with those three firing on all cylinders.
Yuat Alok, 6’11 230, R-Sr. Center-New Mexico State
Previous Stop: Coppin State (MEAC)
2020-2021 Stats: 9.5 PPG, 5.9 RPG & 0.9 BPG (11 GMS, 11 Starts in 20.8 MPG)
Alok is well travelled yes, with his new home in Las Cruces being his 4th Division-I stop since leaving Chipola JC in Florida three seasons ago. But, this is a part of the new landscape of college basketball these days. So, fans of the WAC and fans of the Aggies can enjoy the 6’11 center in the paint this year, I know I will.
The Aggies had a tough 2020-2021 campaign. But with plenty of their talented roster back from new season, Alok and others on the roster check a very important box off of head coach Chris Jans checklist this offseason, size.
This program at times last season struggled against larger conference foes. Not to mention if a player was injured or in foul trouble, their frontcourt depth dwindled. I think Alok helps headline that improvement and in certain scenarios I could see him earning starting minutes. Aside from just his size, Alok’s game is very versatile for coach Jans to utilize. The big man shot 40.9% from deep last season, an area the Aggies could sure use the help with (31.6% as a team).
Nate Pryor, 6’4 180, Sr. Guard-New Mexico State
Previous Stop: Washington (Pac-12)
2020-2021 Stats: 4.1 PPG, 1.3 RPG & 1.6 APG (16 GMS, 2 Starts in 17.4 MPG)
Pryor brings an impressive Juco career and high major experience to his new home at New Mexico State. He is a big 6’4 guard who will be heavily relied upon this season. Along side other non-traditional point guards on the roster like Jabari Rice and Teddy Allen. Everyone will have to chip in when it comes to ball distribution. But I see Pryor winning the starting point guard role over some excellent competition.
His one year at Washington doesn’t necessarily sway folks to that opinion. But I look back at a five game stretch which saw Pryor average 10.4 PPG, 3.0 APG & 2.4 RPG in 30.6 MPG. Given more consistent play the senior guard can produce among high major opponents. His addition to a shallow returning backcourt was one of coach Jans first wins of the offseason. We will see if this was the first step to building an NCAA Tournament bound squad or not come fall.
Michael Peake, 6’8 215, Jr. Forward-New Mexico State
Previous Stop: Austin Peay (OVC)
2020-2021 Stats: 10.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG & 0.8 APG (27 GMS, 21 Starts in 23.9 MPG)
Peake is Chris Jans’ most recent addition to what is shaping up to be a top-25 squad. Given the right coaching this season, fans in Las Cruces have a lot to look forward to. Starting with this jam packed roster and now the addition of Peake, a former three-star recruit and Georgia Bulldog. His transfer to Austin Peay brought out his potential. Anchoring the paint alongside Ohio Valley Conference POY Terry Taylor, he still managed 10.7 PPG & 5.3 RPG in just 23.9 MPG. He will find a similarly packed frontcourt this season at New Mexico State. Along with a battle for starting minutes.
Either way Peake’s production at size is a win in the transfer portal for the Aggies, where he fits in exactly is a question I can imagine the Aggie coaching staff is still figuring out, happily of course.
Kuba Karwowski, 7’2 220, Gr. Center-Sam Houston
Previous Stop: Utah State (Mountain West)
2020-2021 Stats: 0.5 PPG, 0.3 RPG & 0.5 BPG (4 GMS, 0 Starts in 1.5 MPG)
Karwowski’s addition comes at a great time for transitioning Bearkat’s program. Coach Hooten wasn’t opposed to placing an extremely small rotation on the court most of last season. A starting lineup that went 19-9 (13-3, 3rd in Southland), featured four players under 6’3 and a 6’6 post player in the returning Tristan Ikpe. Supplementing that lineup off of the bench was 6’7 freshman Kian Scroggins and the now departed Manny Crump (6’8).
Size isn’t exactly a necessity for the Sam Houston system obviously, but the rest of the WAC certainly sized up around them this offseason and depth of any kind doesn’t hurt. Karwowski’s grand total of six minutes of play last season is a bit misleading, as an injury ridden season playing against NBA 2nd round draft pick Neemias Queta might do that to your stat line. But rewind a bit further to 2019-2020, where the Polish big man averaged 2.7 PPG, 3.2 RPG & 1.0 BPG in just 10.6 minutes a game. That’s the 7-2 center who can run the floor with good hands I think fans in Huntsville will enjoy seeing in orange and white this season.
Brandton Chatfield, 6’10 225, R-So. Forward-Seattle
Previous Stop: Washington State (Pac-12)
2020-2021 Stats: 1.1 PPG & 0.6 RPG (7 GMS, 0 Starts in 3.1 MPG)
Seattle has developed a strong roster and has a case to challenge for a spot atop the conference this season in a re-vamped WAC. Though they have a potent backcourt, they’re frontcourt last season was a combination of youthful and undersized. This offseason, several additions made the Seattle backcourt even stronger. But the frontcourt wasn’t ignored, that includes the addition of in-state transfer Brandton Chatfield from Pac-12 program Washington State.
Chatfield’s time in Pullman seems like a bit of a dead end on paper. A surging program under Kyle Smith, the continued recruitment of top-150 big men would have likely led to a decline in his already small playing time (22 minutes all last season). For the Redhawks I see the 6’10 big man finding more playing time. Even if those minutes come behind returning sophomore Kobe Williamson and senior Emeka Udenyi.
Latrell Jossell, 5’11 160, So. Guard-Stephen F. Austin
Previous Stop: Kansas (Big 12)
2020-2021 Stats: 1.3 PPG, 0.2 RPG & 0.2 SPG (10 GMS, 0 Starts in 2.7 MPG)
Jossell comes to Nacogdoches after spending one year at one of America’s blue blood programs, the Kansas Jayhawks. The 5’11 guard grew up in Chicago but moved to Keller, TX to finish out his high school career. His time on the court in Lawrence was brief, just 10 appearances with a season’s best performance against Omaha at home. Where he notched 5 points, 1 assist and 1 steal in just five minutes off of the bench.
Also in his repertoire is a shooting ability that shoot find plenty of opportunities for the Lumberjacks this season. Even though he wasn’t on the floor long enough at Kansas to display it. When he was he found success from behind the arc. Logging 37.5% on the season (3-8 from deep). I don’t see Jossell challenging for starting minutes with such an experienced backcourt returning to challenge for a WAC title. But he will be a potent option off of the bench for coach Keller and another ball handling option if necessary.
Also, with returning guards David Kachelries and Roti Ware returning to school with their extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to Covid-19. Jossell’s first year finding his rhythm as a regular contributor and learning the system may lead to him taking over a starting role for years to come.
Jonathan Aku, 6’10 260, Jr. Forward-Stephen F. Austin
Previous Stop: Texas A&M (SEC)
2020-2021 Stats: 1.8 PPG, 3.2 RPG & 0.4 BPG (18 GMS, 0 Starts in 14.4 MPG)
Aku is another big addition to the Lumberjack’s roster this season, in every sense of the word. His SEC size and strength will be on full display for coach Keller as they attempt to win their first WAC title next spring. In only 14.4 minutes per game Aku managed to grab 3.2 RPG in one of America’s best conferences last season. And while Stephen F. Austin was able to get the job done without high major size last season, a 16-5 (13-3, 3rd in Southland). His presence down low this season is surely welcomed.
Kawanise “Squeaky” Wilkins, 6’6 240, Gr. Forward-Tarleton State
Previous Stop: Western Michigan (MAC)
2020-2021 Stats: 2.9 PPG, 2.2 RPG & 0.7 SPG (10 GMS, 0 Starts in 11.5 MPG)
The Texans definitely needed some frontcourt depth last season. In their inaugural Division-I season coach Billy Gillespie alternated between several undersized 6’6 options along with 6’7 Konstantin Dotsenko. The latter posing merely as a big body who could stretch the floor if needed. Squeaky Wilkins won’t bring much more size to the frontcourt, but at 6’6 240 and an impressive Juco resume he should definitely make an impact in Stephenville.
Eddie Davis, 6’6 190, Sr. Forward-Tarleton State
Previous Stop: Portland (WCC)
2020-2021 Stats: 11.8 PPG, 4.4 RPG & 1.5 APG (21 GMS, 21 Starts in 31.0 MPG)
Eddie Davis spent his one and only season thus far in Division-I basketball last year as a Portland Pilot. After transferring in from Colby C.C., the 6’6 forward spent his time at the four position last season for coach Terry Porter. Racking up quality minutes, starting all of his 21 appearances and averaging 31.0 minutes a game in he process. Tarleton State could really use Davis, not only for his double-digit scoring punch in a quality conference like the WCC but also for his experience in the paint. As stated above, the Texans don’t get much bigger down low this season but they certainly added depth and experience in this offseason.
Justin Johnson, 6’6 185, Sr. Guard-Texas Rio Grande Valley
Previous Stop: Southern Mississippi (C-USA)
2020-2021 Stats: 5.7 PPG, 2.1 RPG & 1.2 APG (21 GMS, 6 Starts (18.9 MPG)
Johnson makes his move from Southern Mississippi to join the Vaqueros. And certainly at no better time, as the 6’6 combo guard gives first year head coach Matt Figger options in year one. Arriving in Hattiesburg by way of South Georgia Technical College, Johnson managed to start four of the last five games of the season averaging 9.0 PPG, 3.6 RPG & 2.2 APG when given ten more minutes of play a game.
With his size and ball handling ability, the senior guard should help anchor the backcourt for Texas-Rio Grande Valley this season. He’ll have to challenge returning guards Laquan Butler and Ricky Nelson to do so, but he may at least be the answer to any concerns over depth this season in Edinburg.
Mike Adewunmi, 6’5 205, Gr. Guard-Texas Rio Grande Valley
Previous Stop: SIU-Edwardsville (OVC)
2020-2021 Stats: 13.0 PPG, 6.1 RPG & 1.0 APG (26 GMs, 25 Starts in 28.7 MPG)
Adewunmi is onto his third stop in his college career. After committing to Houston as a three-star recruit out of Dallas, TX. He then continued his career at SIU-Edwardsville, with an average of 10.6 PPG and 5.6 RPG. Now he has made his way to Edinburg as a graduate transfer and given the roster turnover from last year’s Vaquero squad he may find himself leading this squad in several categories this season.
The 6’5 guard is just what this fresh faced team needs. An experienced guard who can rebound and puts shots in the basket, shooting 47.8% from the field and 35.4% from beyond the arc. In any past season I could see Adewunmi as a frontrunner for newcomer of the year, but with plenty of talented transfers around the WAC this season, a spot on any all-conference team is a win in my book.
Tim Ceasar, 6’9 200, Junior Forward-Utah Valley
Previous Stop: Coastal Carolina (Sun Belt)
2020-2021 Stats: 3.8 PPG, 2.9 RPG & 0.5 APG (24 GMS, 8 Starts in 14.3 MPG)
Ceasar’s stats don’t necessarily jump out at you, do they? What I like about the 6’9 forwards arrival in Orem is that he will fill a direct need for the Wolverine’s this season. That need is front court depth. Even with perhaps the best big man in the WAC still on the roster this season in Fardaws Aimaq. Coach Madsen had a two pronged attack down low with Aimaq paired with the now departed Evan Cole last season.
With the 6-10 senior gone, along with Jamison Overton who was a 6-6 guard rebounding and scoring a lot of his points inside, who shall help fill that role? I think a combination of Cesar and returning junior Tim Fuller will do just that.
Make sure to stay tuned for our next article examining even more transfers. Next time five impact transfers expected to lead their squads in the battle over the WAC this season. Thanks for reading!