2021-2022 Bronco Season Outlook


Hey Bronco Hoops Family,

As the season is approaching, I wanted to create a formal thread to get everyone’s perspectives/analysis on the upcoming season. I know people have already written some analysis which is scattered around the forum, but with the recent shifts in our roster, I wanted to create a new designated thread for our thoughts.

As @PattyMac has mentioned, it seems like a majority of the analysts have SCU at around 6th in the league, but they don’t consider us a part of the bottom tier with Portland, USD, and Pacific (thank goodness). Like PattyMac said, I’d be pretty disappointed if the Broncos end up 6th in the league once again, even with Bessilink and Djuricic’s unexpected departures. I still believe we have a great group of men with 6 of our key players from last season returning. I think now with some continuity and consistent practicing in our facility without any pauses, the team will be able to build up some chemistry and at least have a chance to build on some momentum unlike last season.

Roster/Depth Chart:

PG: PJ Pipes, Miguel Tomley, Brenton Knapper
SG: Jalen Williams, Giordan Williams, Carlos Stewart
SF: Keshawn Justice, Jalen Williams
PF: Josip Vrankic, Parker Braun, Camaron Tongue, Jacob Holt
C: Jaden Bediako, Parker Braun, Jacob Holt


With the departure of Carlyle, we obviously needed to get a new point guard who can handle and shoot the ball, and I think both PJ Pipes and Brenton Knapper fill that hole. PJ Pipes being one of the top free throw and three point shooters automatically puts him in the starting line-up in my eyes. Because he’s a grad transfer, he’s got lots of NCAA hoops experience and I believe he will do a great job in being a leader for the group. I also have hopes for Knapper being a key part of the Bronco’s success in the future, so I hope he gets some playing time and can learn from some of the older guards. My only concern for him is his lack of size and defensive ability. We are all familiar with Jalen, Giordan, and Miguel, but I honestly expect a big jump in productivity from all three of them, especially the two Williams. I predict that Jalen will end up on the All-WCC team at the end of the season. Carlos Stewart now has to be the freshman I’m most excited to watch after Bessilink’s departure. Having won Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year is a significant achievement in itself, but seeing his highlights from high school and pictures/videos from this summer, he looks like he’s uber athletic and talented. I wouldn’t be completely shocked if towards the end of the season, he starts at SG and Jalen starts at SF. What we really lacked last season in our backcourt was shooting and depth and I think we addressed both of those fairly well.


Losing Willie Caruso was probably our biggest loss during the offseason and unfortunately we weren’t really able to fill that hole completely. Parker Braun seems to be the coaching staff’s efforts to address the loss but we haven’t seen Braun play enough minutes at Mizzou to really conclude on anything. I will say he seems like he has lot of potential on the offensive end, but needs to work on his defense. I’m hoping he can add on more weight and muscles so that he can man the 5 spot at times. Bediako will take up majority of the Center minutes unless Herb decides to play Vrankic at the five spot. From pictures and videos, it looks like Bediako has slimmed down a little and added more muscles so hopefully he shows some improvement on both the offensive and defensive end. With Vrankic back, we can definitely rely on him to get us a bucket or rebound, but I hope we don’t rely on him as much as last season. Whenever we throw the ball down low to him, our offense is stagnant and we lack ball movement. If he can improve his 3 point shot, that will open the floor for more ball movement and spacing. Keshawn Justice has always been reliable, and I hope his three-point percentage goes back to what we expect from him now that he can consistently practice in the new facility. Tongue and Holt both are freshmen who I think can play a bit of the 5 spot but mainly the 4. I think with the departure of Djuricic, both can compete with each other to see who deserves those open minutes.


In the end, I hope our Broncos can find some momentum in non-conference, snag a few solid wins against higher ranked teams, and continue the momentum through conference play to end up in 4th place in the WCC behind the Zags, BYU, and LMU. Although I may be too optimistic, I can’t help but feel excited to watch this team, which seems way more balanced in all departments compared to last year. I’ll be sure to catch a few games live this season, which I haven’t been able to do since I was still in school. Go Broncos!!


Seeing that depth really makes me think even more that we might see Justice play some 4 unless the newcomers are good enough to make that unnecessary. Losing two guys you counted on being a significant part of your team (as you said, replacing Caruso being the big task) before you even start the year…it’s just crazy how many times things have happened with SCU the last few years that I can never remember happening anywhere else ever.

Even the freshman bigs and Braun are decent, we might just to get the 5 best players on the floor (If it turns out to be that way).

I’m just not trusting that 3 freshmen that didn’t play high school basketball last year are going to be ready to do much.

Really good work, here, it should be said.

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Thanks, I appreciate it! I’m really hoping that Braun is going to pleasantly surprise us. Luckily we have two years of him so he can learn the system and develop in his first year.

It’s definitely tough to assume our freshmen will make a difference, which makes sense. Jalen Williams was the last freshman we had who really made a difference and even cracked the starting line-up later in the season if I remember correctly.

I also can see Justice at the 4. I think we saw that a few times last season. Maybe a potential closing lineup will consist of Pipes, Giordan Williams, Jalen Williams, Justice, and Vrankic. Surrounding Vrankic in the paint with three shooters and one slasher (J Williams) sounds really effective. Only concern is the defense in the paint.

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And that concern is a big one. Very big. It was going to be anyway. I guess we will find out sooner than later how that is going to go considering the non-con (no later than Louisiana Tech for sure).

I didn’t recall Justice playing 4, but if you say it happened then I have to assume it did. But I know it wouldn’t be unusual for the coach who was one of the early adopters of the stretch 4 (with the late great Rick Majerus). I’m just not sure about the rebounding, but he does have a big frame.

Vrankic would play as 5 outside the lane a decent bit as well, as most bigs these days do and like Caruso did. Bediako probably not as much.

I think you’re right that Braun is an x factor. Him being able to play 20 or so minutes effectively would change a lot of things.


I could be wrong about Justice playing the 4. I for some reason recall a game or two where we went small and Justice played the 4 a little. If he did, it was definitely for very limited minutes. Maybe we will se more of that this season.

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Partially touched on but I would also add the following players to the depth chart moving ‘up’ a position (not their primary position):
Vrankic at the 5/C, Justice at 4/PF, Giordan at the 3/SF, and Pipes at the 2/SG.

Yes, I expect some small ball lineups on occasion including w/ Vrankic at the 5 …Sendek has done so every other season w/ Vrankic to one degree or another so don’t see it changing this year. And yes Justice has played the 4 in the past, more so in the 2019/20 season, less so last season.

And related…you could see some true 3 guard lineups, for instance with Giordan at the 3, Stewart or Pipes at the 2 and Pipes, Tomley or Knapper at the 1. Maybe splitting hairs but I wouldn’t consider Jalen playing the 3 as being a true 3 guard lineup…with his combination of height/length/athleticism, you could argue he’s equally capable and fitting of the 3/SF/wing position. And ‘3 guard lineup’ sort of implies you’ve gone to a small perimeter lineup which isn’t really the case when Jalen is at the 3.


Based on what I’ve heard, it seems this is very likely our starting five. I honestly don’t know enough to confirm that Braun is going to be getting 20 min. a game, but the little news I got on him was encouraging.
J. Williams

I’m basing this off of nothing other than some hope, and also based on the photos and footage we’ve seen from pre-season practices, but I’m inclined to think G. Williams makes a jump this year. He just looks much stronger and more athletically mature, which again, is only based on some photos and instagram videos. If he has made that jump, I like the idea of an athletic, fast, and sharp shooting ‘small guard’ lineup of Pipes/J. Williams/G. Williams. Or, based on 92’s point on J. Williams, one with Pipes/Stewart/G. Williams.


Interesting re: Braun. Not overly surprised, once I heard Djuricic was gone, I thought it might be a toss-up between Bediako and Braun for the starting spot in the post. Braun may turn out to mirror Caruso, pretty similar make-up…lanky, on the thin side.
Caruso had crazy long arms that Braun probably doesn’t possess but based on Braun’s Missouri highlights he appears to be more athletic than Caruso with better hops and end to end court speed. Also like Caruso, Braun appears to be able to face the basket with range out to the 3 pt line. With Braun’s athleticism and perimeter shooting, I could see him also playing some 4, backing up Vrankic…that probably depends on whether the frosh, Holt or Tongue, are ready to play.
Even if Braun starts, Bediako will still get his minutes. He’s our only true center and we’ll need him against some of the bigger posts such as SMC’s Tass, USF’s transfer posts plus LA Tech’s Lofton.


Diving deeper in to the roster, below is my take on individual players, organized by starters, rotation guys and those fighting for minutes.

Pipes - The presumed starting point guard. Scoring/shooting ability seems legit and a given. Biggest questions are can he run/manage the team as the point guard and can he defend? Worth noting that Carlyle’s defense was superb last season guarding/pressuring the point of attack, and simply staying in front of his man…a big improvement over Wertz…in this regard, Pipes has big shoes to fill.
J. Williams - The most talented and capable all-around player on the squad. Need him to take over this season and make this his team. I’m hoping to see improved 3pt shooting in both quantity and efficiency. Also much room for improvement with his rebounding…at an athletic 6-6 he can/should have more of an impact on the glass.
Justice - Hoping to see steadier, more consistent 3pt shooting.
Need the Keyshawn we saw in the WCC Tourney to show up more often.
Vrankic - Hoping for incremental improvement in overall shooting efficiency including 3pt shooting. Also hoping the offense isn’t centered around/through him. Rebounding was much improved last season compared to mediocre to poor the previous 3 years…needs to replicate that this season.
Braun - As noted in earlier post, might be able to replicate what Caruso provided. Hoping to see some decent rim protection and rebound and the ability to score efficiently when he gets the chance though he’s likely the 5th option on offense in this starting lineup.

1st off the Bench / Rotation guys:
Bediako - Need him to the be the player he was at the beginning of last season (solid rebounding, defense and some interior scoring) and not the guy we saw the later half when he really struggled. Could challenge Braun for PT or even replace him as starter depending on performance outcomes.
Giordan Williams - A guy who’s hard not to like, plays with energy and has shown steady improvement. Earned his increased role and PT last season. Love his aggressive drives attacking the rim. Question is, will he see his PT diminish at all by the young frosh guards nipping at this heals, by Stewart in particular???

Fighting for PT and Steady Roles:
Tomley - 3rd year guy, played steady last season, didn’t turn the ball over much when running the point. Arguably our most gifted 3pt shooter with a near perfect stroke. Will he be the primary back-up point???
Carlos Stewart - Our top 2021 recruit. At only 6-1, smallish for a shooting guard but appears to be strong and athletic and plays bigger than his height. Could very well challenge Giordan for first guard off the bench.
Knapper - Very quick, likely the quickest PG we’ve seen under Sendek. Will that athleticism translate to slashing/attacking the rim and prowess as a defender with the ability to pressure and harass opposing point guards??? I hope so.
Tongue - At 6-7, 220 lbs, not the biggest forward but appears to be strong and fairly athletic. Maybe similar to DJ Mitchell in athleticism? Barring injuries, I don’t see both Tongue and Holt getting significant playing time this season…they are likely battling each other for 4th post/forward minutes behind Vrankic, Braun and Bediako.
Holt - Wasn’t overly excited for him as a recruit…decent skill level but appeared to be less than impressive athletically with a need to get much stronger. Well, it seems that has happened as he’s packed on 20+ lbs. My optimism for his potential to contribute immediately has grown; may have the size and skill to play either the 4 or 5.