It’s been a WACky start to the week in the Western Athletic Conference. Not only did they announce a new unique way to seed their conference tournament, but Lamar left the league after only one season.
Let’s talk about the positives though. The league is the strongest it has been in a long time and some of those teams can thank the transfer portal for that. California Baptist University is one.
The Lancers not only return nearly everything from an 18-win team, but they reload with a bevy of big-time transfers.
With the Chris Jans era ending in Las Cruces, it’s anyone’s game. Can CBU take advantage in their first NCAA Tournament-eligible season?
Cal Baptist Transfer Additions
Joe Quintana, Loyola Marymount
13.1 Points/3.0 Rebounds/1.8 Assists/40.4% FG%/43% 3-pt%
Riley Battin, Utah
4.4 Points/3.1 Rebounds/1.2 Assists/34.6% FG%
Hunter Goodrick, South Dakota
7.5 Points/7.2 Rebounds/1.5 Assists/56.5% FG%
Timothy Ighoefe, Georgetown
2.8 Points/5.7 Rebounds/42% FG%
Blondeau Tchoukuiegno, New Hampshire
11.8 Points/5.3 Points/4.0 Assists/1.0 Steals/42.2% FG%/40.4% 3-pt%
Heading into this season, California Baptist’s backcourt was already going to be one of the best in the country. Taran Armstrong returns after a stellar freshman season where he won WAC Freshman of the Year, going down as only the eighth freshman in NCAA history to average at least ten points, five rebounds, and six assists in a game. Against North Dakota he dished 15 assists and a month earlier against San Jose State, he was the first player in school history to pick up a triple-double.
Now if those assists numbers don’t intrigue you as a guard or even a shooter to come to CBU, I don’t know what will. His brother Tre returns as the team’s leading scorer and Reed Nottage is not too far behind.
Over the offseason, they added two of the better mid-major guards in the country as well. Joe Quintana earned Loyola Marymount buzz last off-season, making them a sleeper in the WCC. The win numbers didn’t exactly come into fruition, but he had another outstanding season on the court. His 83 made three-pointers helped him lead the strong WCC in three-point percentage and threes per game. To add to that, he finished the year shooting 92.5% from the free-throw line. That was good for fourth in the country.
Also added to the backcourt is New Hampshire transfer Blondeau Tchoukuiegno. Tchoukuiegno was a key reason for the Wildcats’ strong play over the last couple of seasons and should be another great do-it-all piece to complement Taran Armstrong. He led the America East in assists and scored double digits 20 times last season.
Now the front court was a glaring hole for CBU heading into the offseason. UMBC transfer Dan Akin found himself over the year in Riverside, but graduated, leaving their front court barren.
The first key piece that was added was Georgetown transfer Timothy Ighoefe. Ighoefe started 20 games a season ago for the Big East squad, finishing the season with an impressive 42% field goal percentage. Another Power 6 transfer complementing him is Utah transfer, Riley Battin. Battin is a pure leader and has started all four seasons in Salt Lake City. Last season was his most frustrating season yet though. It was the first time he shot under 40% for the Utes but he still averaged .26 points per minute. His strongest season came in 2019-20 when he averaged 7.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
To round out that front court the Lancers added South Dakota transfer Hunter Goodrick. He is originally from Australia just like the Armstrong brothers and really found himself this past season. Scoring double digits 12 times, he finished averaging 7.5 points and 7.2 rebounds per game while shooting 56.5% from three-point range.
Just this transfer class alone could field a starting lineup on a normal WAC team.