Gonzaga Basketball Could Contend for Final Four in 2016/2017

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.

For more Gonzaga, head over to Know Hitter’s Gonzaga page. 

Gonzaga Bulldogs: Zags Land Coveted Transfer Johnathan Williams III, Improve National Title Aspirations

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.

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.

Nigel Williams-Goss Transfer: Guard Picks Gonzaga

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.

The guard was considering transferring to a host of different schools, including proven winners Michigan State and Georgetown, as well as UNLV, Arkansas and Texas.

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.

Kyle Wiltjer Reportedly Returning for Senior Season

Gonzaga fans got some good news for the third time in the past few weeks. Coming on the heels of the news that Przemek Karnowski and Domantas Sabonis will return next season, Kyle Wiltjer will reportedly stick around for his senior season in Spokane.

Wiltjer led a talented Zags team in scoring (16.8 points per game) while helping Gonzaga reach only the second Elite Eight in program history. Mark Few and company will likely continue their pursuit of top transfers Damion Lee (eligible immediatly) and Nigel Williams-Goss (will have to sit out a year).

#NBAPlayoffs Teams with Local Connections: Eastern Conference

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).

Eastern Conference

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.

All stats courtesy of http://www.basketball-reference.com/ unless otherwise noted.

Up Next: Players with local connections on Western Conference playoff teams.

Top Transfer Damion Lee Considering Gonzaga

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.

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.

For more on Gonzagaclick here.

Top Transfer Marcus Foster Considering Gonzaga

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.

Fellow sought-after transfer Nigel Williams-Goss is also considering Gonzaga. 

For more on Gonzagaclick here.

Nigel Williams-Goss Transfer: Guard Considering Gonzaga Among Others

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.

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.

One thing is for certain, if Williams-Goss heads to Gonzaga, it would certainly spice up a rivalry that has grown dormant in the past few years.

For more on Gonzagaclick here.

March Madness Recep: Bracket Check, Gonzaga’s Future

Here’s a list of links to my bracket. I didn’t exactly ace it. 

For Gonzaga fans, here’s a look at GU’s future and what to expect for next season. 

Speaking of next season and the future, here’s a look at departing senior Kevin Pangos’ replacement, and next great GU guard, Josh Perkins.

For more Gonzaga, click here. For more March Madness, go here. 

Gonzaga Basketball: Kevin Pangos’ Replacement

With Kevin Pangos graduating, here’s what the future at point guard looks like for the Zags. Meet Josh Perkins.

With that kind of passing and an elite front-line of Kyle Wiltjer, Przemek Karnowski and Domantas Sabonis returning to Spokane, expect the Zags to make another run in March in 2016 as they chase an elusive Final Four berth.