#13 Gonzaga Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Gonzaga Bulldogs
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #13
Conference Rank: #1 West Coast
Gonzaga spent much of last season on the bubble. They made it into the NCAA Tournament as an 11 seed and proved they belonged by upsetting #6 Seton Hall and #3 Utah in dominating fashion. In the Sweet Sixteen, Gonzaga had an opportunity to continue their run, but fell just short against fellow surprise team Syracuse. Coach Mark Few has some major holes to fill, but this team should have more depth and possibly more talent than last year’s squad.
2015-16 Record: 28-8, 15-3
2015-16 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mark Few
Coach Record: 466-111 at Gonzaga, 466-111 overall
Who’s Out:
The frontcourt will look a lot different without Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis. Wiltjer led the team with 20.4 points per game and added 6.3 rebounds. He was an amazing three-point shooter for a 6-10 forward and connected on 43.7 percent of his 206 attempts from beyond the arc. His versatility and production will be missed. Sabonis left the program after his sophomore season and was selected 11th overall in the 2016 NBA Draft. He averaged 17.6 points and 11.8 rebounds last season. As if losing those two was not enough, two starters from the backcourt are gone too. Eric McClellan was third on the team with 10.7 points per game and Kyle Dranginis was a tough and versatile 6-5 guard.
Who’s In:
Coach Few has four eligible transfers and some of them are big names. Nigel Williams-Goss averaged 15.6 points and 5.9 assists with Washington as a sophomore two years ago. He is one of the best scoring point guards in the country. Jordan Mathews adds a much needed shooter to the group. He is not 6-10 like Wiltjer, but the 6-4 graduate transfer from California can knock down a ton of three-pointers. Those two should step right into the starting lineup. Johnathan Williams will need to play a big role in the frontcourt. He led Missouri with 11.9 points and 7.1 rebounds as a sophomore in 2014-2015. Rice transfer, Jeremy Jones, will add some depth in the frontcourt and possibly the backcourt as well. Of the five incoming freshmen, Zach Collins and Zach Norvell figure to make the biggest impact. Collins is a seven-footer who is in line to be the next great Gonzaga big man. He can score in a variety of ways and has all of the tools to make a big impact right away. Norvell is a tough 6-5 guard who will find quality minutes in the regular rotation. Rui Hachimura, Jacob Larsen and Killian Tillie will likely have to bid their time for now.
Who to Watch:
Gonzaga could sport a very good team with just the newcomers, but there is some talent coming back. Eventually Josh Perkins turned into a very good point guard. After a slow start, he ended the year averaging 10.1 points and 4.1 assists. He also turned into a very good outside shooter and connected on 46.3 percent of his shots from beyond the arc in WCC play. He will team up with Williams-Goss and give Gonzaga two very good scoring point guards. Silas Melson struggled at times with his offense, but is a superb defender. The minutes may be tougher to come by this time around, but his defense will keep him in the regular rotation. Bryan Alberts earned ten starts as a freshman, including eight during conference play, but averaged just 2.6 points per game.
Final Projection:
The frontcourt returns Ryan Edwards and, more importantly, Przemek Karnowski. Karnowski, a 7-1 center, played just five games last season before an injury ended his senior season. He is back for another go at it. Gonzaga will need him to recover from his back surgery and play like he did back in 2014-2015 when he averaged 10.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.0 blocks. If healthy, Karnowski can put up much bigger numbers than that since he will be the key player in the frontcourt. If he struggles to return from his injury, Gonzaga will have to rely very heavily on the newcomers and that could at least be problematic when it comes to frontcourt depth.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Josh Perkins, Sophomore, Guard, 10.1 points per game
Nigel Williams-Goss, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Jordan Mathews, Senior, Guard, 13.5 points per game (at Cal)
Johnathan Williams, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
Przemek Karnowski, Senior, Center, 8.8 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 78.9 (44th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.6 (35, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 48.6 (11, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.6 (21, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.8 (97, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.0 (37, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 75.8 (14, 1)
Rebound Margin: 7.4 (20, 1)
Assists Per Game: 13.9 (127, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.6 (73, 5)
Madness 2016 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#25 Zach Collins
#113 Zach Norvell