It is a little over 24 hours away from the beginning of a new WAC Hoops season. The Road to #WACVegas begins on Tuesday night with eight of nine teams opening their season. Seattle follows with its season-opener on Wednesday at Washington State.
So, what’s in store for the 2019-20 version of WAC Hoops? Will New Mexico State repeat? Can California Baptist continue its amazing growth since joining the Division I ranks? Will Seattle stay injury-free? How will new coaches adjust to the craziness of WAC Hoops? Which guards will have the biggest impact on the league? How will Kansas City and CSU Bakersfield fare in their final seasons in the WAC?
So many questions and that is just the tip of the iceberg. However, we aren’t going to answer those questions here. What we are going to do is bring you five bold predictions for WAC Hoops that we have for the 2019-20 season.
Chicago State Begins the New Season With Three Straight Wins
This might seem nuts but in all honesty, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility. The Cougars host non-DI foe Judson and Loyola University Maryland to open the season. Chicago State then takes on Eastern Illinois in Charleston, Illinois. In 2018-19, Chicago State beat Eastern Illinois, 80-72, at the Jones Convocation Center. If the Cougars open the season with three straight wins, they will equal the same amount of wins they had all of 2018-19.
With home games against Purdue University-Northwest and North Park University, Chicago State should have no less than five wins in the non-conference slate.
Seattle Wins the WAC Regular Season Title
Remember…these are BOLD predictions. This prediction is going out on a limb because of how good New Mexico State is. However, Seattle was 12-3 in its non-conference slate last season before injuries derailed the Redhawks. Head coach Jim Hayford never had a full roster of fully healthy players. When he finally did, Seattle finished the 2018-19 season winning five of the final six regular season games before falling to Grand Canyon in the WAC Tournament and a home loss to Presbyterian in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
Hayford returns five seniors and a lot of experience. The depth might be an issue but with guards Morgan Means, Terrell Brown and Riley Grigsby, Seattle will put people on notice and could shock the WAC Hoops world.
Javon Levi Wins WAC Player of the Year
Yes, you read that correctly. UTRGV junior guard Javon Levi wins the WAC Player of the Year award. In 2018-19, Levi was the only player in the NCAA to average at least 5.5 assists(5.7), 2.5 steals (2.95) and 2.1 turnovers or less (2.03) per game. Levi was second in the NCAA in steals with a program-record 109. That number also led the WAC, which earned Levi the Defensive Player of the Year honors. The 109 steals is the second-highest total in WAC history. Add in that UTRGV won a program-record 20 games in 2018-19 and it’s a recipe for success. If UTRGV has the same kind of success it has had since Lew Hill took over, Levi’s name will be one to consider for WAC Player of the Year.
Kobe Bryant or Shaquille O’Neal Will Attend a Utah Valley Game in 2019-20
Crazy prediction, right? WRONG!!!
If you didn’t see the clip where Shaquille O’Neal shared his thoughts on Utah Valley head coach Mark Madsen, watch it here. You might understand why this prediction may actually happen. The first-year head coach played with both O’Neal and Bryant on the Los Angeles Lakers and they remain good friends, still.
Madsen is humble enough that at times he feels he name drops too much. However, it is what some of his current players and former teammates love about him. So, don’t be shocked to see either Shaq or Kobe at a Utah Valley game this season. One other big name is rumored to be attending a Utah Valley game this season but we will see if that happens.
Grand Canyon Knocks Off New Mexico State, Earns Trip to NCAA Tournament
Yes, I know my New Mexico State followers will blast me for this. I get it. But remember one word regarding this article: BOLD. Yes, New Mexico State, at this point, is head and shoulders above everyone in the WAC. However, if TCU transfer Jaylen Fisher is granted a waiver, GCU has pieces in place to match up with the Aggies. It is a guard-heavy league and with Isiah Brown, Carlos Johnson, Jovan Blacksher Jr. and possibly Fisher, the ‘Lopes can match up with Terrell Brown, A.J. Harris, Shunn Buchanan, Shawn Williams and Trevelin Queen. It will be a matchup to watch each time these two schools play each other.
Do I believe this will actually happen? No. It is why I picked New Mexico State to win the WAC again this season. But for a bold prediction, this one fits just fine.