The college basketball season is only two weeks old, and it’s already apparent this will be a fun season to watch if you have interest in players from Snohomish County.
But two local players in particular will be in the headlines all season long as All-American candidates for top-10 teams: Lynnwood High School graduate Mikayla Pivec, a senior guard on the Oregon State women’s team, and King’s High School graduate Corey Kispert, a junior forward on the Gonzaga men’s team.
Pivec is the clear leader for a Beavers team that reached the Sweet 16 last season and is ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press women’s poll. Oregon State rolled through four opponents en route to the Preseason WNIT championship. Pivec, who was a WBCA All-America finalist last season and is on the Cheryl Miller Award watchlist this season, averaged a team-high 17.8 points and 10.8 rebounds and 6.3 assists over the Beavers’ first four games.
And Pivec’s team is loaded. Oregon State returns its entire backcourt, with Pivec being joined by fellow honors candidate Destiny Slocumb, as well as reigning Pac-12 Sixth Player of the Year Aleah Goodman, while sharpshooter Kat Tudor returns from the knee injury that wiped out her 2018-19 season. Up front the Beavers were bolstered by the addition of five-star freshmen Taylor Jones and Kennedy Brown, who join Bothell’s Taya Corosdale (I’m assured Corosdale is from the Snohomish County half of Bothell herself) in the rotation.
Meanwhile Kispert, who hails from Edmonds, is the top returning player from the Gonzaga team that reached the Elite Eight last season, and the Bulldogs, ranked No. 8 in the AP men’s poll, won each of their first four games by 30-plus points. Kispert, who was named to the Julius Irving Award preseason watchlist, is second on the team in scoring at 15.3 points per contest, adding 3.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.5 3-pointers.
Kispert’s Bulldogs lost four major contributors from last season, as Rui Hachimura, Brandon Clarke and Zach Norvell Jr. all left for the NBA, while Josh Perkins graduated, and there are lingering questions about what Gonzaga can get out of All-American candidate Killian Tille this season after he underwent another surgery. But Gonzaga once again reached into the grad-transfer well and came out with a quality starting backcourt in Admon Gilder from Texas A&M and Ryan Woolridge from North Texas. Up front Filip Petrusev appears to have taken a major step, while freshmen Anton Watson and Drew Timme have made immediate impacts.
Two high-quality players for two high-quality teams that should go a long way. There are other local products on teams projected to do well: Glacier Peak’s Paisely Johnson with the BYU women and Marysville Pilchuck’s RaeQuan Battle with the Washington men to name two. But Pivec and Kispert are unquestionably the players on teams expected to be the best.
So whose team makes it the furthest this season, Pivec’s Beavers or Kispert’s Bulldogs? Make your prediction here: