SPOKANE, Wash. — Last week was certainly not boring around Gonzaga basketball.
In most likely the busiest offseason week in program history, the squad got commitments to return from starters Rasir Bolton, Julian Strawther and Drew Timme before turning around and getting a commitment from one of the top transfers in the portal in Malachi Smith.
Most college basketball journalists had Gonzaga ranked #1 before Smith’s commitment.
However, CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish was one of the last holdouts. Until he wasn’t.
“Listen, you’ve got it right. Without Malachi Smith, I had them fourth. With him, I had them one. The truth is there was not much difference in my mind between the teams I had ahead of Gonzaga and Gonzaga at that point, even before Malachi. We’re talking about North Carolina, Houston and Kentucky,” said Parrish.
So, what convinced him to put Gonzaga over the rest?
“I think they’ve got more really good college players than everybody else. Maybe not more NBA prospects than anybody else, maybe not two of the top ten players in the country, but I think they’ve got more very good college basketball players than anybody else. There’s just a track record of excellence with the program. Assuming that they’re going to be anything other than awesome, you’re really not paying attention to history or the roster that’s in place,” said Parrish.
If anyone is familiar with the refrain from the Twitter-verse that Gonzaga is overrated, it’s Gary.
He’s hardly concerned about it.
“I had Gonzaga #1 in the country last preseason and people would say, ‘How’d that work out for ya?’ and I would argue pretty well. They were the #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. For about four months they looked like the best team in the country, and then in a single elimination tournament of 40 minute games where foul trouble, three point shooting, any number of things can determine the outcome, they got caught by another good team,” said Parrish.
As for the way this year’s good team will play, especially with a roster that almost feels logjammed with talent?
Well, Gary doesn’t have any predictions quite yet in terms of how it will all work out, and he’s pretty sure a very important someone else doesn’t either.
“One of the things Mark Few has told me in the past when I would ask him, ‘How do you envision using this guy or with this lineup?’ And he said, ‘There are some coaches”—and I appreciated the humility here — He said, ‘There are some coaches who on paper they can figure it out and just look at it and say, ‘Well, here’s what we’re going to do. This, this and this. I’m somebody who kind of needs to see it. I need to see it on the court, and then I’ll know what we need to do,’" said Parrish.
Gonzaga fans are hoping that Few sees and delivers a national championship team.
Gary says it’s only a matter of time.
“If you keep getting darts to throw at a dart board, if you get five, you’re going to get a bull’s eye eventually. If we’re equating a dart to a realistic chance to win a national title, he’s got a dart in his hand every year. Not every coach does. He does,” said Parrish.