It's time to get ready for the Big Sky season again with some overviews of each team this month, and then eventually we'll get into more detailed looks at everything.
What They Lost: After falling just short the past few seasons, Weber State broke through and won the Big Sky last season. However, even though they are the preseason number one, it will be tough to repeat thanks to some big losses. The biggest loss is Davion Berry, who was the conference POY last season. He did it all for the Wildcats as their best scorer and passer. He did a little bit of everything and will be tough to replace. Kyle Tresnak was excellent inside, one of the best back to the basket scorers in the conference. He also improved defensively throughout his career and was a legitimate shot blocker by the end of his career. Also gone is guard Jordan Richardson, who was a nice four year player for them. He was a very good shooter, but could also handle the ball when needed.
They lost Royce Williams to transfer, who had been a guy I liked, but never got a ton of time. Williams was a proficient shooter but didn't do a ton of other things.
Who Returns: Down low, they bring back Joel Bolomboy, one of the best players in the conference. In his first two seasons, all Bolomboy has done is establish himself as one of the best rebounders in the nation, as well as an athletic and versatile defender. If he can improve offensively, he's the best player in the Big Sky and a future pro. James Hajek will be back up front as well, after missing much of last year with injury. He can be a rebounding and shot blocking big man for them. Kyndahl Hill could start at the four, and to me he is one of the more intriguing guys in the Big Sky. An incredible athlete, Hill just needs polish to be a unique weapon for Randy Rahe.
In the backcourt, Jeremy Senglin and Richaud Gittens got plenty of run as freshmen, and should be better served for it. Senglin will be the point guard, with an excellent outside shot (40% from downtown), and a smooth handle. We will see if he has the chops to be an above average distributor, but he will be a very good player no matter. Gittens is one of the more athletic wings in the conference, a slasher who can finish hard. He just needs to take care of the ball a bit better, but he is a dynamic playmaker.
Newcomers: Chris Golden started the last exhibition game at guard, and put up a team high 16 points, hitting two threes. The juco transfer averaged over 20 PPG last year and will hit a bunch of threes. Jaelyn Johnson-Coston is another juco guy that will contribute right away on the wing, and he is a guy that can do a bit of everything. He looks to be their top reserve as of now.
Among freshmen, Hayden Hunter could get the most minutes, and he had four assists versus no turnovers in the exhibition. He should be a nice pass-first guard off the bench for them. Jeremiah Jefferson and Ryan Richardson are both guys with bright futures that could get a lot of minutes at many schools, but we'll see how much they play as freshmen. Both are super athletic and excellent shooters (especially Richardson), but the minutes available could dictate whether at least one of them redshirts. Both have bright futures.
Zach Braxton is a freshman big man with a lot of potential, but again the first year impact will depend on minutes. He averaged 18 and 14 with four blocks per game last year, getting some interest from Mountain West teams. He is ready to play, but could be a redshirt candidate if they feel good about their current frontcourt rotation.
General Outlook: Weber State is again the preseason favorite, but this year, there are a lot more dissenting opinions. They need Senglin and Gittens to be able to create offense for themselves and others, or else they could have trouble getting baskets when they need them. Also, they'll be a young team - Hajek is the only senior, which is amazing for a team ranked preseason number one. They have done a great job recruiting, and they have more young talent and athleticism than anyone in the conference. How quickly those guys assume major roles will determine whether they can be back to back champions.
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