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Catching up with the Western Athletic Conference

Transfers and extensions as teams begin to take shape for 2016-17

NCAA Basketball: UMKC at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a while since we’ve taken a good, hard look at the Western Athletic Conference, and there’s a lot you may have missed in the meantime.

Here are the CliffsNotes:

WAC Transfer news

Like many mid-major leagues, the WAC has been hit hard by the transfer bug. The key departures: Dayon Goodman (Utah Valley), Justin Hollins (Cal St. Bakersfield), Quron Davis (Chicago State), and DeAndre Davis (Grand Canyon).

Grand Canyon will miss Davis, but with all the players that the Antelopes have in the backcourt, this transfer was a smart move for him. Despite Davis’s skill, Grand Canyon won’t be killed by his departure, mainly because of the team’s backcourt depth. Davis transferred to Division II New Mexico Highlands, and should be the primary backcourt option for the Cowboys. Meanwhile Davis’s teammate, former four-star guard Dominic Magee, is headed to Southern Miss.

Fortunately for the Lopes, help is on the way in the form of graduate transfer Darion Clark. Clark comes from USC as an undersized post player at 6’7 and 220 pounds. He has had issues with his shoulder though, and that kept him out of a handful of games last year.

Despite Clark’s limited minutes at USC, he is a strong glue player who will bring a high intensity to practice and on game days, while never hesitating to grab rebounds. He could become a double-double machine in the WAC, as Grand Canyon hopes he follows in the footsteps of Grandy Glaze, a grad transfer from last year who averaged 14 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.

Richardson extended

In a somewhat surprising move, University of Missouri-Kansas City extended head coach Kareem Richardson through the 2020-21 season. This, despite a 12-19 record last year and losing records in each of Richardson’s first three seasons. The Kangaroos were never a mid-major powerhouse program by any means, but then again, neither is any other team in the WAC.

Since Richardson took control, UMKC has a collective win-loss record of 36-58 overall and 19-25 in the WAC. In the same three-year span, Division I transitional member Grand Canyon posted a 59-37 overall record, 25-19 in conference.

One could argue that Martez Harrison was, at the very least, a bright spot for UMKC last season. On one hand, his numbers were impressive: 15.4 points, 4.2 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Those numbers closely mirror his 2014-15 season, when he won conference player of the year. On the other, the rest of the conference seemed to improve around him. Harrison’s performance was a microcosm of a team that stayed pretty much the same as it was the year before. If UMKC enjoys being fifth or sixth in an eight-team league, then this extension works. But UMKC has the potential to be the main focal point outside of the Kansas City Chiefs for a winter sport option in Kansas City. The Kangaroos are capable of more.