On Tuesday the Zags suffered a second early departure, with Nigel Williams-Goss joining Zach Collins in declaring for the NBA Draft. The news - which was no surprise - leaves Gonzaga light on valuable experience next season.
Mark Few will return four players who were in the team's regular rotation during their run to the National Championship game.
Johnathan Williams averaged over 10 points, was the team's leading rebounder and a key piece on defense. Josh Perkins took a backseat to Williams-Goss, his eight points and three assists per game were both down from his freshman season. Silas Melson put up over seven points each time out, and is best known for being a quality defender and energy guy. And Killian Tillie had big moments off the bench, showing he can do a bit of everything.
It would come as no surprise if those four ended up in next season's starting five. The question is, who will join them in Few's rotation?
There is talent on the way. Utah native Jesse Wade will finally arrive after his two year LDS mission. Wade has drawn comparisons to Kevin Pangos. Seattle's Corey Kispert is a six-foot-six-inch forward rated as a four star recruit. He was a 20-point scorer at King's High School.
Few will also add two guys who redshirted last season. There is six-foot-five-inch shooting guard Zach Norvell, and six-foot-eleven-inch center Jacob Larsen.
With 27 points per game from the perimeter out the door with Williams-Goss and Jordan Mathews' departures, Norvell could help fill the void. He showed his scoring tough with 18 points in their exhibition against West Georgia.
"In practice and even early on in the summer I think he was one of the best scorers on the team from the perimeter and he's just a natural born scorer. He finds ways to go to the basket, he can step out and hit the three. He makes unorthodox shots that you're like 'man that looked crazy'. He just has a knack for putting the ball in the hole and I don't think you can really teach that," Williams-Goss said. "I just think he's gonna be able to do that from the get go."
As for Larsen, who will be counted on to fill the void of two seven-footers - Collins and Przemek Karnowski - Williams-Goss told me people will be surprised by his skill set and ability to step out and shoot.
One player we haven't mentioned yet, is the most interesting guy on the Zags' roster: Rui Hachimura. We saw flashes of huge potential in short time. But between learning the language and getting accustomed to the college game, the six-foot-eight-inch forward is having to make an enormous adjustment. According to Williams-Goss, Rui is moving in the right direction.
"He's a work horse. He's in the gym every night working on his game, trying to prepare himself for the next game, for the next year," Williams-Goss said. "I think you're really going to see him grow as a player. I think just him being in the states a little bit longer, learning the language, having practiced and played with us a little bit in games the sky is the limit for him next year as well."
There is also the possibility of Few landing another grad transfer, in the mold of Jordan Mathews or Byron Wesley. Gonzaga is in the mix for New Mexico grad transfer Elijah Brown, who would provide some offense as a senior next season.
So there will be talent in the Kennel. It won't be as established or as plentiful as this season's group, but it will be there. Is it enough to guarantee another deep tournament run? It's too early to tell. But then again, who could have predicted a trip to the title game 12 months ago?
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