After bolstering adding transfers/impact players Kyle Wiltjer and Byron Wesley to a team that would eventually make the Elite Eight, Gonzaga coach Mark Few is at it again. Johnathan Williams III, Missouri’s leading scorer (11.9 points per game) and rebounder (7.1 boards per game) last season, has decided to transfer to GU.
(Insert embedded Instagram thing of Williams decision here).
He’ll have to sit next season out per NCAA transfer rules, but will be eligible for the 2016/2017 season where he will give Gonzaga a legitimate chance at a national title. Joining him in ‘16/’17 will be fellow coveted transfer Nigel Williams-Goss (who joined from Washington) and talented point guard Josh Perkins. Williams will likely be joined in the frontcourt by Domantas Sabonis (assuming he sticks around), center Ryan Edwards and talented recruit Zach Collins. Collins is already listed by ESPN as a top-60 recruit, and his stock will only rise from here. He may well enter Gonzaga as a five-star recruit when all is said and done.
In addition to Williams III, Perkins, Williams-Goss, Sabonis, Collins and Edwards, GU will return Silas Melson and Bryan Alberts, both with an added year of experience under their belts.
Last season’s Elite Eight team was widely regarded as one of, if not the most talented team in Gonzaga history. This group may surpass them and take GU to the Final Four and a national championship.
The big news, per ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, is that highly-touted transfer Nigel Williams-Goss is transferring to Gonzaga to finish out his college eligibility. The guard will have two years of eligibility left, but will have to sit out next season under transfer rules.
Nigel Williams-Goss told ESPN he will transfer to Gonzaga. Huge for the Zags.
When eligible, Williams-Goss will give the Zags a dynamic backcourt with Josh Perkins, who can do stuff like this.
GU was facing the prospect of a future without Kyle Wiltjer and Przemek Karnowski, but with Williams-Goss, Perkins and Domantas Sabonis in Spokane, the Zags have a nucleus that can compete nationally for years to come.
If nothing else, Williams-Goss will spice up a rivalry that has gone cold as of late. Surely UW and the schools fans won’t be happy seeing their best player depart for arguably the Huskies’ biggest instate hardwood rival.
It will be interesting to see just how much Williams-Goss progresses in Spokane. Another former Husky, Dan Dickau, transferred to GU after two years at UW (where he was a complimentary player) and became an All-American, 20 point-per-game scorer and NBA first-round draft pick. The Zags’ latest transfer comes in with more experience and better stats than Dickau. He was a two-year starter and put up 15.6 points per game, 5.9 assists and 4.7 rebounds per contest.
Given the Zags ability to drastically improve players who redshirt a year (see Kyle Wiltjer and Kelly Olynyk), it will be exciting to see just how much Williams-Goss improves. Gonzaga has been called GU, not just Gonzaga University, but “Guard University”. Dating back to John Stockton and including recent greats like Kevin Pangos and Matt Bouldin, the Zags have always turned out great guards. Williams-Goss seems like the next one of those guards.
With the NBA playoffs underway, here’s a look at the NBA players with local connections playing on teams that made it to the postseason. Without an NBA team in Seattle, we tend to cheer on local players or players with connections to the state of Washington. It should also be pointed out that the team from Oklahoma missed the playoffs (insert synonym for the word “happy” here).
Atlanta Hawks: Austin Daye
Austin Daye isn’t from Washington, but spent his college years at Gonzaga where he was a prolific shot blocker and led the Zags to NCAA tournament berths in each of his seasons in Spokane. Daye was the 15th overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons and now suits up for the Atlanta Hawks. He’s also played for the Memphis Grizzlies, Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs. He won a ring with the Spurs in 2014.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Joe Harris
Joe Harris was born in Chelan, Washington and attended the University of Virginia where he played for four years under former Washington State head coach Tony Bennett. The former All-ACC performer has per-game averages of 2.7 points, .8 rebounds and .5 assists in his first season in Cleveland and in the league.
Chicago Bulls: Aaron Brooks
One of the NBA’s best “instant-offense” guards (which tends to be a common trend among Seattle-area guards), Brooks has had a fairly successful NBA career with the likes of the Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, Sacramento Kings, Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns. He currently plays for the Chicago Bulls where he has averaged 11.6 points a game off the bench this season in a similar role to the one fellow Washingtonian Nate Robinson played for the Bulls.
Toronto Raptors: Terrence Ross
Oregonian Terrence Ross played two years at the University of Washington before going pro and being selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft. He’s started at least 61 games per season over the past two years for a successful Toronto club. He’s averaged 9.8 points and 2.8 rebounds a game this season and is a prolific dunker.
Washington Wizards: Martell Webster
After being drafted sixth overall by the Portland Trailblazers in the 2005 NBA draft, Webster has carved out a role as a bench scorer. After scoring 9.7 points a game for the Wizards last season, he’s down to 3.3 points a contest this year.
Boston Celtics: Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk
Starting with Tacoma natives Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley, Boston has some strong ties to the Pacific Northwest. Thomas has joined another Washingtonian, Jamal Crawford, among the best offensive options off the bench. At 26-years-old, he looks to be part of the Celtics core for the long haul and is already off to a promising start as his level of play propelled the Celtics from a lottery-bound team to the Eastern Conference’s seventh seed.
Joining him in the Boston backcourt is Bradley who is a lock-down defender and solid offensive threat. The former McDonald’s All American averaged 13.9 points a game to go along with 3.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 steals per contest.
Rounding out Boston’s group of players connected to the Pacific Northwest is Thomas’ partner in crime on Boston’s second unit, Kelly Olynyk. The former Gonzaga big man continues to improve in the NBA after averaging 8.7 points a game in his rookie season, he’s up to 10.3 points a contest this season. The center can step out to the three-point line and has a solid, low-post game.
Elite transfer Damion Lee is considering transferring to Gonzaga after wrapping up his career at Drexel. The 6’6” guard recently announced that the Zags were one of his finalists, the others being Arizona, Louisville, Marquette and Maryland.
I have narrowed my list down to these schools in alphabetical order: Arizona Gonzaga Louisville Marquette Maryland.
Lee would present a major coup for Mark Few, who might lose Kyle Wiltjer and Przemek Karnowski to the NBA Draft. The high-scoring win averaged 21.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists at Drexel last season. He put up 13 points a contest as a sophomore after scoring 17.1 per game as a freshman. Lee would be eligible to play immediately, similar to Byron Wesley last season.
Along with Lee, top transfers Nigel Williams-Goss (formerly of UW) and Marcus Foster (Kansas State) are considering the Zags. GU has become a desirable landing spot for transfers thanks to a highly successful program and excellent track record. Players like Wiltjer and Dan Dickau came to Spokane as bench players (at their previous schools) and transformed into All-Americans. Other transfers like Wesley and Micah Downs have become solid starters and integral parts of respective Gonzaga teams. Here’s hoping Lee joins that list.
Former Kansas State guard is considering transferring to Gonzaga to finish out his college basketball career.Foster finished his sophomore season at KSU with per-game averages of 12.5 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists. He shot 34.7% from three-point land. This comes after a freshman season in which he scored 15.5 points a contest and put up 3.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. The 6’2” guard shot 39.5% from deep in his first season at Kansas State.
It’s probably safe to say he’d be forgiven for doing this if he suits up for the Zags.
Foster is also considering Creighton, Cincinnati and LSU.
University of Washington guard Nigel Williams-Goss is leaving UW. The Oregon native and former McDonald’s All-American will transfer and is reportedly considering Gonzaga. According to Chris Haynes, the guard is also considering UNLV, Texas, Georgetown, Michigan State and Arkansas. He averaged 15.6 points, 5.9 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game at UW last season.
Nigel Williams-Goss, transferring from UW, informs me he’s narrowed choices to UNLV, Texas, Georgetown, Michigan State, Arkansas, Gonzaga.
The Zags already have their future point guard in Josh Perkins, but a backcourt of Williams-Goss and Perkins would be pretty dynamic, not to mention fun to watch. Just for kicks and whistles, here’s some highlights of Perkins’ passing.
Stanford and Cal apparently reached out to the guard, but as Haynes notes, programs can make it tough to transfer within conferences.
Cal and Stanford reached out to Nigel Williams-Goss, but programs have a way of making it difficult to transfer in conference.