SPOKANE, Wash. — Gonzaga nabbed their point guard of the future Tuesday morning.
Florida transfer Andrew Nembhard officially committed to the school Tuesday, after a long wait for fans. Nembhard’s dad told the media that he would commit on Monday, which created some anxiety when he didn’t commit that day for Zag fans.
Nembhard was recruited by Gonzaga out of high school but chose the Gators instead. This time around he picked Gonzaga over Duke, Memphis, USC, Stanford, and Georgetown.
"Just being recruited from them before, I just felt comfortable with them," said Nembhard of his decision making process. "That comfortability came with us talking and me feeling comfortable with their plan for me for my sit out year to develop and get better. I also think we have a great chance to win here so I'm just excited about my opportunity."
"What I want is a basketball school. When it came to my decision nothing about going to the campus was going to excite me about any of these schools. It was more about basketball and what I can do and they can do for me," he said.
The soon to be junior will sit out this next year and is assumed to take over point guard responsibilities once Jalen Suggs goes to the NBA. He will have two years of eligibility remaining once he’s able to play for the 2021-2022 season. He could've applied for a waiver for this season, but Nembhard thinks that sitting out in the better option.
"I just think that for where I want to go to I need to get better. This year sitting out will be a great opportunity for me to really elevate my game and get to the next level both mentally and physically. Just learning the game from a great coach, I think it's going to be very, very valuable for me," he said.
Nembhard added that Gonzaga's success with transfers also played a role in his decision.
The point guard was a five-star recruit out of high school and started every game for the Florida Gators during his time in Gainesville. His sophomore season he averaged 11.2 points and 5.6 assists. He was the first Florida freshman to start every game of his freshman season since Bradley Beal.
"I'm a play maker," he said when asked to describe his game. "I'm a guy who's really good at pick and roll, off the ball, off the catch situations, making other guys better around me. I feel like I can score the ball myself, and I can really defend. Just trying to get better everyday."
Nembhard has also competed for Canada and led them to a silver medal at the 2018 FIBA U18 Americas, averaging 15.7 points and 8.8 assists over six games. Gonzaga has connections on Team Canada with Kelly Olynyk, Kyle Wiltjer, and Kevin Pangos. Nembhard spoke with those guys before he committed as well.
"Didn't really talk too much basketball, just talked about Spokane and how it is there. How their experience was with the team and campus and everything and got nothing but great reviews," he said.
He also was high school teammates with Filip Petrusev at Montverde Academy.
"I'm excited to go out there and compete against him honestly. Go at him everyday and get him better, and it will get me better," said Nembhard, adding that Filip reached out to him to congratulate him when he committed.
Nembhard will be joining a squad that many have picked to win a national championship in 2021. However, he won't be able to step out on the floor with them. Nembhard is still looking forward to it though.
"I think it's an exciting experience honestly for me. Just to be a part of their journey and help in anyway I can and just elevate their play and elevate their team. I hope I can be a small part of their success," he said.
As for Nembhard's goals for when he steps on the court in a Gonzaga uniform?
"Goal is to win a national championship. I think Gonzaga is program that is now looked at as a team that can compete a national championship every year. That's something I really want to do, and I think that we have the guys to do it," he said.