#14 Gonzaga Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

Gonzaga Bulldogs
2017-2018 Overall Rank: #14
Conference Rank: #1 West Coast
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Gonzaga finally broke through and made it past the Sweet Sixteen last season. They ended up losing in the national championship game to North Carolina, but the program was able to prove that they can make NCAA Tournament runs. Coach Mark Few has some huge holes to fill, but the talent is there for the Bulldogs to do it again.
2016-17 Record: 37-2, 17-1
2016-17 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mark Few
Coach Record: 503-113 at Gonzaga, 503-113 overall
Who’s Out:
Nigel Williams-Goss led the Bulldogs last season with 16.8 points per game and was drafted 55th overall in the NBA Draft. He took all the big shots for Gonzaga and dished out 4.7 assists with 6.0 rebounds. The backcourt also lost starter Jordan Mathews, who connected on a team high 85 three-pointers. Mathews was overshadowed by many of his teammates, but he still averaged 10.6 points per game and his shooting will be missed. But perhaps the more significant departures are in the frontcourt. Przemek Karnowski averaged 12.2 points and 5.8 rebounds, while Zach Collins added 10.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in just 17.2 minutes per game. Despite not starting a game, Collins left after his freshman campaign and was selected 10th overall in the 2017 NBA Draft. Ryan Edwards, Bryan Alberts, Dustin Triano and Rem Bakamus saw limited action with Gonzaga during the 2017-2018 season.
Who’s In:
The newcomers will not immediately replace the production lost, but there is talent that is ready to contribute. Alex Martin, Jesse Wade, Joel Ayayi and Zach Norvell will add options on the perimeter. Ayayi has a lot of potential, but is a raw talent. If he can pull it together quickly, there will be an opportunity for Ayayi to make an impact. Norvell redshirted last season with an injury and, possibly, due to the talent in front of him. The 6-5 guard could be the best freshman in the conference and should help replace the shooting lost with Mathews. Wing Corey Kispert will likely need some time to develop his game, but redshirt freshman Jacob Larsen is ready to contribute. The 6-11 center showed potential in the pre-season last year before a knee injury delayed his freshman campaign.
Who to Watch:
Jonathan Williams and Josh Perkins will be the new leaders of the team. Williams, a 6-9 forward, led the team with 6.4 rebounds and is the team’s top returning scorer at 10.2 points. Williams has some big shoes to fill in the Gonzaga frontcourt though. This group may not be anywhere close to the frontcourt of years past, but Williams is not a bad piece to build around. Killian Tillie could be the next great big man at Gonzaga. The 6-10 sophomore averaged 4.2 points and 3.2 rebounds in just 12.3 minutes per game. He will see a lot more playing time this year. Perkins stepped aside last year while Williams-Goss took over the team. Perkins can certainly get better at avoiding mistakes, but he can knock down shots and be a leader on the floor. Silas Melson is another big-time shooting threat. The 6-4 guard connected on 39.1 percent of his three-point attempts and is also developing into a decent scorer attacking the basket.
Final Projection:
Since the 2000-2001 season, Gonzaga has failed to win at least a share of the West Coast Conference title just one time. This year the Bulldogs will have some serious competition. It has little to do with their talent though as Saint Mary’s has the tools to give Gonzaga a run for their money. Coach Few has talent on this roster, but there is less experience than we have seen over the last few years. If that talent lives up to their potential, they will be a tough out by March.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Josh Perkins, Junior, Guard, 8.1 points per game
Silas Melson, Senior, Guard, 7.2 points per game
Zach Norvell, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Jonathan Williams, Senior, Forward, 10.2 points per game
Killian Tillie, Sophomore, Forward, 4.2 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 82.6 (16th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 61.5 (10, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 50.4 (4, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 36.5 (2, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.3 (177, 5)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.2 (44, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.7 (123, 6)
Rebound Margin: 7.1 (12, 2)
Assists Per Game: 15.3 (64, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.5 (45, 3)
Madness 2018 NBA Draft Rankings:
#18 Killian Tillie
#51 Johnathan Williams
Madness 2017 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#97 Corey Kispert