#3 Gonzaga Men's Basketball 2018-2019 Preview

Gonzaga Bulldogs
2018-2019 Overall Rank: #3
Conference Rank: #1 West Coast
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Gonzaga reached the national championship game in 2017 and this group could be even better than that team. The Bulldogs had a handful of players who could have left early for the NBA, but opted to return to school instead. Add in some talented newcomers and Coach Mark Few has a team that will be disappointed to not make it to the Final Four. However, an injury to Killian Tillie, a 6-10 junior who averaged 12.9 points and 5.9 rebounds last season, could cause some problems. Tillie is expected to be back in late December or early January, but he will miss all of the big non-conference games where Gonzaga will test themselves against some of the top teams in the country.
2017-18 Record: 32-5, 17-1
2017-18 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mark Few
Coach Record: 535-118 at Gonzaga, 535-118 overall
Key Departed Players:
Jonathan Williams, Forward, 13.4 ppg
Silas Melson, Guard, 9.3 ppg
Jesse Wade, Guard, 1.4 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Killian Tillie, Junior, Forward, 12.9 ppg
Zach Norvell Jr, Sophomore, Guard, 12.7 ppg
Josh Perkins, Senior, Guard, 12.3 ppg
Rui Hachimura, Junior, Forward, 11.6 ppg
Corey Kispert, Sophomore, Forward, 6.7 ppg
Jacob Larsen, Sophomore, Center, 2.9 ppg
Jeremy Jones, Senior, Forward, 1.7 ppg
Key New Players:
Joel Ayayi, RS Freshman, Guard
Brandon Clarke, Junior, Forward, Transfer from San Jose State
Geno Crandall, Senior, Guard, Transfer from North Dakota
Greg Foster Jr, Freshman, Guard
Matthew Lang, Freshman, Guard
Paul Pennington, Freshman, Guard
Filip Petrusev, Freshman, Forward
While Tillie is out, the frontcourt will rely heavily on Rui Hachimura. The 6-8 junior was a superb sixth man last season and now should step into the starting lineup. He is a very versatile player who can play either forward spot. Corey Kispert can play either forward spot as well after averaging 6.7 points and 3.2 rebounds as a freshman. He is the more traditional small forward due to his proven outside shooting ability, but Coach Few has the luxury of playing some big lineups once Tillie returns. Brandon Clarke, a transfer from San Jose State, and incoming freshman Filip Petrusev will add quality depth up front. Clarke may not average 17.3 points per game like he did with the Spartans two years ago, but he can certainly do the dirty work and help replace much of the production lost with the departure of Johnathan Williams. Zach Norvell and Josh Perkins return to lead the backcourt. Both are consistent and prolific outside shooters and Perkins dished out a team high 5.3 assists per game. North Dakota transfer Geno Crandall will add a much needed secondary ball handler to the roster. Even if some injuries linger, Gonzaga should cruise through the West Coast Conference and win their seventh straight regular season title. And then it will come down to matchups in the NCAA Tournament that decides just how special of a season this team will have.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 83.5 (11th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.7 (53, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 49.8 (7, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.9 (29, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.9 (68, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.8 (86, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.8 (199, 7)
Rebound Margin: 8.6 (5, 1)
Assists Per Game: 15.2 (67, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.4 (40, 3)
Madness 2019 NBA Draft Rankings:
#6 Rui Hachimura
#31 Killian Tillie
#57 Zach Norvell
Madness 2018 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#71 Filip Petrusev