The college basketball season tipped off this week, and a pair of Snohomish County natives were among those tabbed by the NCAA as players to watch this season.
Lynnwood High School graduate Mikayla Pivec, a senior guard on the Oregon State women’s team, and King’s High School graduate and Edmonds native Corey Kispert, a junior forward on the Gonzaga men’s basketball team, were both named to NCAA award preseason watch lists, marking them as among the top players in the nation.
Pivec was one of 20 players named to the Cheryl Miller Award preseason watch list. The Cheryl Miller Award is given annually to the player determined to be the best women’s small forward in the nation.
The 5-foot-10 Pivec is coming off a season in which she averaged 15.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game and was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection and a WBCA All-America finalist. She led the Beavers to a 26-8 record and a trip to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. This summer, Pivec was part of the U.S. team that won a silver medal at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.
Pivec was also one of five players named to the All-Pac-12 preseason team.
Kispert was among the 20 candidates named for the Julius Irving Small Forward of the Year Award. The 6-foot-7 Kispert started 36 of Gonzaga’s 37 games last season, averaging 8.0 points per game and finishing second on the team with 61 3-pointers. He helped the Bulldogs go 33-4 and reach the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament.
Last year’s award was won by Kispert’s Gonzaga teammate, Rui Hachimura, who now plays for the NBA’s Washington Wizards.
Both Pivec and Kispert are expected to be part of successful teams again this season. Oregon State is ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press women’s preseason poll, and Gonzaga is ranked No. 8 in the men’s preseason poll.
Pivec and Kispert weren’t the only Snohomish County natives to earn preseason college basketball honors. Glacier Peak High School graduate Paisley Johnson, a junior guard on the BYU women’s team, was one of 10 players named to the All-West Coast Conference preseason team. The 5-foot-9 Johnson averaged 14.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists last season as the Cougars went 26-7 and reached the round of 32 of the NCAA tournament.
At the NCAA Division II level, Lynnwood High School graduate Kelsey Rogers, a junior forward on the Western Washington University women’s team, was one of 15 players named to the All-Great Northwest Athletic Conference preseason team. The 6-foot-1 Rogers averaged 12.0 points and 5.1 rebounds last season for a Vikings team that went 17-13.
Also on the All-GNAC preseason women’s team is Shorewood High School graduate Taryn Shelley, a sophomore forward at Montana State Billings who averaged 11.1 points and 8.2 rebounds per contest last season.