2022 Record: 19-12 (9-7)

Head Coach: Stan Johnson (Career Record 43-39)

Projected Rotation:

PG: Juice Hill (LSU 5.6 Pts, 1.6 Reb, 2.7 Ast)

SG: Justin Wright (NC Central 16.1 Pts, 5.1 Reb, 2.2 Ast)

SF: Dominick Harris (Gonzaga 1.5 Pts, 0.6 Reb, 0.5 Ast)

PF: Keli Leaupepe (13.3 Pts, 6.8 Reb, 1.1 Ast)

C: Lars Thiemann (Cal 9.5 Pts, 5.4 Reb, 0.6 Ast)

6: PF Alex Merkviladze (7.1 Pts, 4.0 Reb, 1.1 Ast)

7: PG Will Johnston (UTRGV 14.5 Pts, 2.2 Reb, 3.6 Ast)

8: C Michael Graham (4.5 Pts, 5.3 Reb, 0.4 Ast)

9: SG Noah Taitz (2021-22 Stanford 4.5 Pts, 1.6 Reb, 0.7 Ast)

10: C Rick Issanza (3.6 Pts, 4.2 Reb, 0.3 Ast)

11: PF Aaron McBride

12: SF Lamaj Lewis (3.0 Pts, 2.2 Reb, 1.0 Ast)

13: SG Jovan Ristic

Loyola Marymount lost their best player in recent memory in Cam Shelton. To balance out the loss, LMU signed a duo of point guards in LSU transfer Juice Hill and UTRGV transfer Will Johnston. Hill struggled a bit this past season at LSU shooting only 29% from the floor. He had a great season at Murray State in 2021-22 and would look to replicate those numbers at LMU this season. Will Johnston is an Australia native who spent 2 seasons at JUCO and also last season at UTRGV. He’s a high volume scorer most notable from beyond the arc where he shot 44% from 3 last season on 5.5 attempts per game. Noah Taitz is a player that returns for the Lions. He missed all of last season, however, he missed all of last season due to injury. In the 2021-22 season at Stanford he averaged nearly 5PPG and shot 43% from 3.

Keli Leaupepe is the best returning player for the Lions from last season. The 6-6 240lb forward is most notable known for his unique hair style, but he is also an absolute baller on the court. He averaged just over 13PPG last season and can score in a variety of ways. He shoots well over 40% from 3 with his frame. He is also very athletic and moves well for his size. Alex Merkviladze is another returning big man for the Lions. Last season, he showed growth seeing increases in nearly every statistical category. He is a player that will excel in his role coming off the bench for the Lions as a 6th man.

Lars Thiemann was a huge transfer pickup for the Lions. The 7-1 260lb Cal transfer from Germany is exactly the kind of player the Lions needed. The Lions needed a guy over 7 foot with high major experience that can add value to the team in a variety of ways. He is not a threat from beyond the arc but scores on the interior and defends at a high level. Rick Issanza and Michael Graham are other centers on the roster. Issanza is a former Oklahoma transfer who has really been trying to find his footing the last few seasons. He adds value to the team in terms of rebounding. Graham is undersized for a 5 man but also is a great rebounder. The former Elon product will continue to progress in his Lions career.

Some additional transfer the Lions added this offseason were Gonzaga transfer Dominick Harris and NC Central transfer Justin Wright. Harris is familiar with the conference after spending the past 2 seasons with Gonzaga seeing limited action. He is an athletic guard and former 4 star recruit that should expect a dramatic rise in playtime during his first season with the Lions. Justin Wright is a high volume scorer out of NC Central. LMU needed to add an experienced scorer in the portal after losing Cam Shelton to eligibility. Wright started all games last season shooting 47% from the floor and 41% from three while averaging 16PPG. There’s an obvious rise in competition but Wright will still get the chance to average double figures with the Lions. Returning for LMU is 6-6 SG Lamaj Lewis who saw a rise in production last season. Lewis is still towards the bottom of the rotation but he tripled his point average and saw a huge rise in all his other statistical categories. LMU also added freshman 3 star PF Aaron McBride out of Corona, CA and also received a late commitment from unranked SG Jovan Ristic out of Serbia to finish out the roster.

With Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s being the clear 1 and 2 teams in the WCC conference, realistic expectations for the Lions would be to compete for that 3rd place spot. With the departure of BYU, that 3rd place spot in the WCC becomes wide open for teams such as LMU, San Francisco, and Santa Clara. LMU should make it a goal to try winning a game against Gonzaga or SMC like they did last year. Another realistic expectation for them would be to compete for an NIT bid.