The Gonzaga Bulldogs have run one of the most successful college basketball programs in the past decade. Gonzaga has been to 18 straight NCAA tournaments, and the team could only be getting better.
Despite losing the team’s top three scorers and four of the top eight scorers overall, Gonzaga is poised for a potential Final Four run during the upcoming season.
Yes, impact players like Kyle Wiltjer, Domantas Sabonis, Eric McClellan and Kyle Dranginis have all departed, but the Zags return plenty of talent.
Up front, Przemek Karnowski is back for a sixth season. The towering center is a force in the paint and an adept passer. It’s probably not a stretch to say that you can run an offense through him. What’s more, he can also provide a significant impact on defense with his shot-altering ability.
Additionally, the team brings back point guard Josh Perkins, who shot 38% from three last year, to go along with 10.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. Defensive stopper and double-digit scoring threat Silas Melson also returns.
The real excitement comes in Gonzaga’s new arrivals. Johnathan Williams, who sat out last season after transferring from Missouri, will take one of the frontcourt spots vacated by Wiltjer and Sabonis. The ex-Missouri standout averaged 16.2 points and 9.7 rebound per 40 minutes at his previous school.
Fellow transfer Nigel Williams-Goss, who arrives via Washington, will also start. The point guard should slot in next to Perkins in a two-guard backcourt. In his sophomore campaign in Seattle, the stat-sheet stuffer averaged 17 points, 6.4 assists and 5.1 rebounds per 40 minutes.
Rounding out the list of transfers is Jordan Mathews. The shooting guard arrives after a successful career at Cal, where he averaged at least 17.6 points per 40 minutes in each of his seasons at the school. In his last year with the Pac-12 heavyweights, the sharpshooter hit 41.6% of his threes while adding 18.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists per 40 minutes.
With a starting lineup consisting of Williams-Goss, Perkins, Mathews, Williams and Karnowski, Gonzaga should make some serious noise in the early going as a team that lands in the top 10 or 15 of rankings.
However, what makes the Zags special is there depth.
Head coach Mark Few welcomes perhaps the best recruiting class in school history. Center Zach Collins and shooting guard Zach Norvell are both ESPN 100 recrutis, while Tille and Hachimura are ranked as four-star prospects by Scout.com. Well-regarded Danish center Jacob Larsen rounds out the group.
Collins looks like a future pro with a solid post game, range to step out and knock down shots from the outside, as well as the ability to block shots. Meanwhile, Norvell is a dynamic scorer that should immediately make an impact off the bench.
Hachimura will provide another dynamic presence on the perimeter. ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla said that “He’s going to remind people of a bigger Elias Harris.”
With Karnoswki, Williams, Collins and junior center Ryan Edwards taking up minutes down low, Tille and Larsen may end up redshirting, however, if they play it wouldn’t be a surprise to see either make an impact considering how well Gonzaga has recruited internationally over the last few years.
Not only do Gonzaga have the talent be extremely successful next season, but they also have the depth to sustain a deep NCAA tournament run.
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