Kispert Named Player of the Year; Few is Coach of the Year; Suggs is Newcomer of the Year
SAN MATEO, Calif. – Mark Few was selected as the West Coast Conference Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year, Corey Kispert was titled the Player of the Year, Jalen Suggs was named the Newcomer of the Year and Andrew Nembhard was tabbed the Sixth Man of the Year league officials announced Tuesday.
Kispert, Suggs, Joel Ayayi and Drew Timme were selected First Team All-WCC. Nembhard was named to All-Conference Second Team. Suggs and Oumar Ballo were on the conference’s All-Freshman Team. It’s only the fourth time in league history that four players from the same team have been named first team, and the first time since GU’s Brandon Clarke, Rui Hachimura, Zach Norvell Jr., and Josh Perkins earned First Team honors in 2018-19. The Zags’ Jeremy Eaton, Richie Frahm, Quentin Hall and Matt Santangelo were tabbed first team in 1998-99. Loyola Marymount had four WCC first team selections in 1987-88.
Few extended his own conference record, capturing his 14th Coach of the Year honor. He receives the honor for the fourth time in the last five seasons, after leading Gonzaga to its first-ever unbeaten regular season finish in program history at 24-0 record thus far, one-win shy of its 14th straight season with at least 25 wins. Few has also led GU to its ninth straight WCC regular season title. The top-ranked Zags have been riding the sixth number-one rankings in program history all season.
Kispert is a finalist for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award for the second straight season. He currently leads the West Coast Conference in scoring at 19.50 points per game. He is shooting a phenomenal 55.6 percent from the field, which is second in the conference. The senior is second in the league making 2.83 three-pointers per game at a WCC-best 46.3 percentage, which is fourth in the nation. He is fourth in the conference shooting 64.9 percent inside-the-arc. Kispert is first in the WCC with an 88.9 free-throw percentage. He has scored in double-digits in all but one game this season, reaching 20 points 11 times. The Edmonds, Wash., native, boasts a 119-10 career record in games he’s appeared in. He has the highest winning percentage in Div. 1 over the last 25 years for at least 100 appearances. He’s scored 1,459 points in career, and is sixth in GU history with 247 three-pointers. Kispert received First Team All-WCC honors for the second straight season.
Suggs is a finalist for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award. He leads the West Coast Conference in steals per game (2.00). The freshman is also fourth in the WCC in assists per game (4.55), fourth in field goal percentage (50.5 percent), and 11th in scoring (13.91). He’s been named the WCC Freshman of the Week 10 times this season. Suggs was named the league’s Player of the Week after scoring a season-high 27 points in a win over then-ranked No. 3 Iowa. The West Saint Paul, Minn., native, has scored in double digits 16 times, dished out at least five assists in 12 games and made three or more steals in seven games.
Ayayi, a finalist for the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award, is fourth in the WCC in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.17). His 6.83-rebound average ranks fourth in the conference, and is the most by a guard in program history. The junior averages 11.33 points per game at 50.5 percent shooting from the field. He is second in the league shooting 68.6 percent inside-the-arc. Ayayi recorded the first triple-double in program history in the win at Portland. He scored all 12 of his points in the first half, grabbed 13 rebounds and dished out a career-high 14 assists. Ayayi’s 14 assists were the second-most in program history, and the most since Blake Stepp’s record of 16 in 2002. His 18 rebounds against Iowa were the most by a Bulldog guard since the program moved to NCAA Div. 1 in 1958-59. His 18 boards were also the fourth most for a Gonzaga player since Mark Few took over as head coach. The French native was honorable mention All-WCC last season.
Timme is a finalist for the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award. He is second in the conference in scoring at 18.92 points per game, at a league-leading 65.1 percent from the field, which is fourth in the country. He is third in the WCC making 67.1 percent from inside-the-arc. His 7.08 rebounds per game is also third in the conference. He has started all 24 games for GU, scoring in double digits 23 times. Timme also has a team-high 11 20-point games this season, including a career-high 29 versus Virginia. He was WCC All-Freshman Team in 2020-21.
Nembhard has made eight starts this season for the Zags, including five of the last six. He tops the league, and is 11th in the nation, with a 3.39 assist-to-turnover ratio. He’s scoring nine points per game, and is fifth in the conference averaging 4.4 assists per outing. The junior has scored in double-digits 11 times this season. He dished out a season-high 10 assists in a win at San Diego.
Ballo has appeared in 20 games for Gonzaga, scoring 57 points and grabbing 34 rebounds this season. He was named the WCC Freshman of the Week on Jan. 4.
Alex Barcello of BYU, San Francisco’s Jamaree Bouyea, Pepperdine’s Kessler Edward and Colbey Ross, Eli Scott of Loyola Marymount and Santa Clara’s Josip Vrankic were also named First Team All-WCC.
All five individual awards — along with the All-West Coast Conference Teams and the All-Freshman Team — were voted on by the league’s 10 head coaches.
2020-21 All-WCC Men’s Basketball Major Individual Honors
Player of the Year:Corey Kispert, Gonzaga
Coach of the Year:Mark Few, Gonzaga
Defensive Player of the Year: Matt Haarms, BYU
Newcomer of the Year:Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga
Sixth Man of the Year:Andrew Nembhard, Gonzaga
COURTESY GONZAGA ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS