In this segment, I outline the emerging prospects for the 2011-2012 West Coast Conference season.
Mitchell Young, Saint Mary's- Young was one of the league's most promising big men a year ago. He was at his best drawing contact in the paint.(11th in WCC in Fouls Drawn) Yet, Young failed to capitalize on this strength most of the time, shooting a mediocre 57.4% free throw % at the free throw line. He must improve on this in order to increase his offensive production. With that said, he should receive the ball more often this season, as he was dependable with the ball in his hands last year. (5th in Turnover %) Further, Young was one of the conference's best rebounders, finishing 7th in the WCC in Offensive Rebounding % and 5th in Defensive Rebounding %. Defensively, Young was one of the top shot blockers in the West Coast Conference, ranking 8th in blocks %. In spite of this strength, Young was still very foul prone, with 5.1 Fouls Committed per 40 minutes of action. All in all, Mitchell Young should be one of the most efficient offensive players in the West Coast Conference next year after he finished 11th in Offensive Rating last season. Look for him to receive All Conference honors and to lead St. Mary's to another NCAA tournament berth.
Perris Blackwell, San Francisco- Blackwell had a solid sophomore campaign for San Francisco. He was fairly dominant on the glass, ranking 1st in the conference in Offensive Rebounding % and 11th in the conference in Defensive Rebounding %. And, he was able to effectively draw fouls and get to the line. (4th in Fouls Drawn in the conference) Blackwell will have to improve his shooting efficiency and cut back on his turnovers this season if he hopes to earn All-Conference honors. Additionally, Blackwell was fairly foul prone last year and must play better positional defense in order to stay on the floor. Look for him to receive even more touches this season, and to improve upon his production a year ago.
Marquise Carter, Gonzaga- A season ago, Carter was one of Gonzaga's most efficient options offensively, posting the 6th highest Offensive Rating in the conference according to kenpom.com. Further, he posted a 61% True Shooting %, while connecting on 39% of his 3 point attempts. Despite his fairly ordinary per game numbers, Carter's production down the stretch was critical in Gonzaga's season turnaround. When Carter began to receive more minutes towards the end of the season, the Zags consequently closed out the regular season by winning 11 of their final 12 games. Not only was he efficient scoring the basketball, but he also proved to be an effective passer. By year's end, he ranked 17th in the conference in Assist Rate. Aside from his notable contributions on the offensive end, Carter proved to be one of the tougher defensive players on the Bulldogs' squad in 2010-2011. He had quick hands and was laterally quick enough to stay in front of most players in the league. Carter ranked 7th in the WCC in steals % last season. Expect Marquise Carter to receive starters' minutes next year due to Demetri Goodson's decision to focus solely on football. And, with more playing time, look for him to prosper and become one of the most valuable players in the WCC in 2011-2012.
Brock Zylstra, BYU- Zylstra's story is a rather unique one. He was recruited for the 2006/2007 season, but opted to redshirt. Then, he went on a mission, returning to play for BYU in 2009. Since then, he has been limited to a reserve role, where he averaged just over 1 ppg a season ago. Despite this, Zylstra improved considerably in the offseason and proved to be one of BYU's top weapons in their overseas tour. He led BYU for spurts against the Greek National Team and dropped 26 points against the Italian National Team, both in losing efforts. Over the course of BYU's 4-game trip overseas, Zylstra led his club by averaging 17.3 ppg and 6.0 rpg. Look for him to receive a lot more playing time this year and to emerge as one of BYU's best and most versatile weapons.