Cal State Fullerton:
CSF boasts two of the top players in the Big West in senior all-conference standouts D. J. Seeley and Kwame Vaughn.
• Seeley polished of a solid 2011-12 campaign with All-Big West First Team accolades. The transfer from Cal ranked among the Big West leaders in several categories, including scoring (4th – 17.3 ppg), rebounding (14th – 5.5 rpg), field goal percentage (8th - .439) and steals (3rd – 1.5 spg). He also placed in the top 10 in three-point field goal percentage (4th - .434) and three-point field goals made (8th – 2.1). Seeley had 13 games with 20 points or more, punctuated by a career-high 32-point performance against Loyola Marymount in the first round of the postseason CIT.
• Vaughn is every bit as dangerous a scorer as Seeley while running the Titan offense. He erupted for a career-high 37 points against UC Santa Barbara (Feb. 4) and notched 20 points or more nine times last season. In addition, he led the Big West in assists (3.7 apg) and free throw percentage (.847). The 6-3 guard also placed fifth on the league leaderboard in field goal percentage (.458). An All-Big West Second Team selection, he and Seeley join UC Irvine’s Michael Wilder as the only three returnees from the 2011-12 all-conference first and second teams.
To stay at the top, CSF needs a third scorer and one of the top candidates for that role is TCU transfer Sammy Yeager. The 6-4 forward averaged 9.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Horned Frogs in 2010-11. Another potential source of offense is 6-6 redshirt freshman forward Darius Nelson. He attended UTEP for the fall semester in 2011-12 but did not play, and becomes eligible for the Titans in December.UC Davis
• Junior Josh Ritchart is the leading returning scorer for the Aggies. He averaged 11.3 points and added 5.1 rebounds per game in 2011-12. Named the Big West Co-Freshman of the Year in 2010-11, Ritchart excelled at times and struggled at others last season. He hit seven three-pointers and collected 24 points against league champion Long Beach State (Feb. 11) but was scoreless against the same 49ers in the quarterfinals of the Big West Tournament (Mar. 8). His 69 three-pointers ranked fifth all-time in the Aggie single-season record book.UC Irvine
• A healthy Ryan Sypkens will certainly help the UC Davis cause this season. The 6-4 guard averaged a team-best 14.0 points through the first four games of 2011-12 before a knee injury sidelined him for the remainder of the season. Sypkens contributed 9.7 points per game and led the Aggies with 66 three-pointers as a sophomore in 2010-11. His absence hindered UC Davis greatly on offense, a big reason why the team finished eighth in the Big West in scoring (62.1 ppg) last year.
• Junior Chris McNealy joins Wilder and Starring as three ‘Eaters who started all 32 games last season. McNealy had a standout performance in UCI’s upset of No. 2 seed Cal State Fullerton in the Big West Tournament quarterfinals with a career-high 24 points that helped him earn all-tournament accolades. He finished third on the team with 10.2 points, but the 6-4 guard contributed in other areas with 98 assists, 17 blocked shots and 27 steals.UC Riverside
• Forward Will Davis II posted a school record 55 blocked shots as a freshman in 2011-12. The 6-8 forward/center looks to improve upon his 7.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.
• Playing time is up for grabs with so many new faces. Among the freshmen, 6-6 forward Josh Fox was named the San Francisco City Player of the Year and First Team All-Bay Area at Sacred Heart Cathedral as the team’s leading scorer at 19.0 points per game. His high school teammate, 6-6 forward Taylor Johns, helped the team to the California State Championship game where he tallied 13 points, 19 rebounds and three blocks.
UC Santa Barbara
• Senior guard Nate Garth, junior forward Keegan Hornbuckle and sophomore guard T.J. Taylor were part-time starters last season. Garth and Taylor split point guard duties, and combined for 132 assists and 63 turnovers. All three players made at least 10 three-pointers.Green has since re-broken hit foot and looks out for year again.
• Redshirt freshman John Green is a potential prime scoring option for the Gauchos. He was expected to make key contributions last season, but suffered a broken foot in the opener and missed the remainder of the season. The 6-5 guard is likely slated for a starting role.