The wait is finally over! After a four year Division 1 transition period, Grand Canyon is now eligible for the NCAA postseason tournament. Head Coach Dan Majerle led the Antelopes to 81 wins the past 4 years, and now, his team has been voted by coaches and media members as the preseason favorite to win the WAC conference. GCU senior guard Josh Braun (6’4″ 220 lbs) has been selected as the WAC’s pre-season player of the year. Braun is coming off a junior campaign when he averaged 17.5 points per game and was an all-conference 1st team selection.
This season Grand Canyon’s schedule features big school opponents Louisville, Illinois, and St. John’s. GCU has also partnered up with Yurview to televise 18 home games this season, which will be seen in more than 40 Cox Cable TV markets across the country. The anticipation for the upcoming season is palpable. The Antelopes have already sold out their season ticket packages, and will play in front of one of the loudest student sections in the country, known as the Havocs.
One of the biggest additions to the Antelopes roster this season is former Corona Del Sol standout Casey Benson. Benson (6’3″ 185 lbs), a senior graduate transfer, played previously at Oregon and helped lead the Ducks to the Final Four last season. The point guard is a WAC pre-season 2nd team selection, and will replace DeWayne Russell. Russell, who graduated, is now playing professionally in France. Benson’s return to Phoenix makes it a family affair at GCU. Casey’s older brother T.J., is an Antelopes assistant coach.
GCU returns starting forward Keonta Vernon (6’6″ 240 lbs), who last season averaged 9.3 points per game and led the team with 7.0 rebounds per contest. Another returning starter is sophomore guard Oscar Frayer. Last season Frayer (6’7″ 190 lbs) averaged 7.9 points and led the team with 33 blocks. Junior forward Matt Jackson (6’8″ 230 lbs) is back after missing last season due to an injury. Two other big men who figure to make an impact this season are a pair of freshmen forwards, Roberts Blumbergs (6’10” 220 lbs) from Latvia, and Alessandro Lever (6’10” 230 lbs) from Italy.
Grand Canyon, which finished second the past three years in the WAC, will be challenged by New Mexico State, Cal State Bakersfield, and Utah Valley. This is undoubtedly Majerle’s deepest and most talented team. The Antelopes faithful are also hoping, that this will be the first team to put on their dancing shoes and make some noise during March Madness.