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With Drew Timme back, can Gonzaga and Mark Few win the big one?

By John Fanta
FOX Sports College Basketball Writer

Over the final six seasons, Gonzaga has amassed a document of 192-18. That’s a .914 profitable proportion for Mark Few’s Bulldogs over that span.

The Zags have been about as dominant as any program in school basketball. Few has scheduled a boatload of high-caliber non-conference foes, placing to mattress the notion that the program by no means challenges itself. In the upcoming season, Gonzaga will play Baylor, Kentucky, Texas and Michigan State, whereas additionally taking part in in a difficult area in the Phil Knight Legacy in Portland, Oregon. The Zags have confirmed time and once more that they can deal with these matchups, and will probably enter the 2022-23 season ranked No. 1 or No. 2, barring a shock.

The unfavourable narrative that the program “can’t win the nationwide title” is perhaps outplayed, however it would lurk till the Zags lastly break via. Is this the season they achieve this?

That may appear uncertain given that they are saying goodbye to No. 2 total draft choose Chet Holmgren, in addition to star guard Andrew Nembhard. But there’s greater than sufficient in place for Gonzaga to climb the mountaintop this season.

Let’s break down what the Bulldogs seem like getting into the 2022-23 marketing campaign. 

The largest piece of stories in Gonzaga’s offseason got here on June 1, when All-American Drew Timme introduced in a two-word tweet that he was withdrawing from the NBA Draft and returning to the Bulldogs for his senior season.

It can’t be overstated how big that is for the Zags, to not point out the sport itself. Timme, Gonzaga’s chief and already a Spokane legend, averaged 18.4 factors and 6.8 boards on 59% taking pictures final season.

Sure, there have been NIL advantages for Timme to return, however the 6-foot-10 famous person is coming again with the objective of delivering the program its elusive nationwide championship.

Timme is not the just one who’s electing to run it again in Spokane this season. His choice adopted guard Rasir Bolton and wing Julian Strawther, who each additionally opted out of the draft. 

At 6-foot-7, Strawther’s versatility and size stand out. As a sophomore, he averaged 11.8 PPG on 50% taking pictures from the ground. As for Bolton, a fifth-year senior, his expertise and potential to create in transition provides the Zags an edge in quick break eventualities. He will goal to hold over his late-season consistency — 13.1 PPG over his final six contests — into the new season. 

Those three high-impact returnees alone would have put the Zags close to the high of the rankings, however Few stored working to construct his 2022-23 roster. The teaching employees labored the switch portal properly with a pair of key additions, Chattanooga’s Malachi Smith and LSU’s Efton Reid.  

Smith, the reigning Southern Conference Player of the Year, is a dynamic 6-foot-4 guard who led the Mocs to a convention event title. Averaging 19.9 factors, 6.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists as a sophomore, Smith was the major drive behind a 27-8 Chattanooga crew that reached the NCAA Tournament. The Mocs fell to Illinois in an exhilarating one-point first-round recreation. He was broadly thought of considered one of the high accessible transfers. 

As for Reid, he heads to Spokane trying to be Gonzaga’s subsequent nice big. The former five-star recruit was unable to discover a rhythm in his lone season in Baton Rouge, averaging 6.3 factors and 4.3 boards. He could possibly be a key reserve for the Zags this season and ultimately take the torch from Timme.

One of the big underlying keys for Gonzaga is the growth of sophomores Nolan Hickman and Hunter Sallis. Hickman has been groomed to be the Zags’ start line guard after taking part in behind Nembhard and Bolton final season. Few has made it clear that he expects Hickman to take a big leap.

As for Sallis, he could possibly be a reserve as soon as once more, however the 6-foot-5 combo guard and former five-star recruit ought to get his fair proportion of alternatives after averaging simply over 13 minutes per recreation final season. 

Elsewhere in the frontcourt, 6-foot-8 junior ahead Anton Watson ought to compete for a beginning spot at the 4. It will not be something new for the Spokane native, who made 17 begins in the 2020-21 marketing campaign, however gave up that position when Holmgren entered the program.

So, right here we go once more at Gonzaga. 

The Zags have a nationwide participant of the yr candidate in Timme, and he is surrounded by versatility and size. It can be attention-grabbing to see how the transfers influence the distribution of minutes, however as has been the case for the Zags for a lot of the final decade, that is a great drawback for Few and his employees to have.

John Fanta is a nationwide school basketball broadcaster and author for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in quite a lot of capacities, from calling video games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to offering commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.

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