Last updated 4/19/2018 at Noon
After the NCAA basketball season ended, we started seeing big names from big schools declare for the NBA draft.
The ones that opted for an agent will not be able to return to play college ball. Those who didn’t sign with an agent can choose to return to school if they don’t think they will be drafted in the first two rounds.
At this point in time we know that several players will be selected in the early going because their names have been listed on draft boards some before they even played their first college game.
A year ago, two Gonzaga basketball players opted for the draft and hired agents. They were Nigel Williams-Goss and Zach Collins.
Johnathan Williams also put his name out there but didn’t hire an agent. Several weeks after doing so he decided to return to the Gonzaga campus.
Coach Mark Few is certainly glad he did, but after the year Williams had he had to be happy with his decision.
A year ago the Bulldogs were coming off a tough last minute loss to North Carolina in the National Championship game. Williams-Goss had a great season and he must have thought that it was time to try his luck while his name was still in the pro scouts’ memory bank.
Collins was a talented and versatile youngster who at 7’0” could see that his stock was up and a year later he might not be as high of a draft pick with other big men lurking from big name squads. Once Collins became a part of the Portland Trail Blazers rotation, he became a real asset and he will get better with age, weight, strength and experience.
Was it the right choice for these guys?
Collins was more of a sure thing to make a team whereas Williams-Goss may not have as much of a solid future in the pros, at least the NBA.
I might be wrong, but pro careers usually aren’t very long. It is a physical grind and the banging and injuries can take a toll on the old body. I do wish him luck.
A year after the Final Four run, Gonzaga shocked a lot of their fans by making a run to the Sweet Sixteen before depth and a key injury saw the season come to a screeching halt. They did it without two potential All-Americans that declared for the NBA draft a year earlier.
Once this season ended, speculation that two more Zags could possibly declare for the draft. Sophomores Killian Tillie and Rui Hachimura had break out seasons but that doesn’t make them NBA products yet.
If you’ve heard Dick Vitale go crazy for some of the athletes that play the game on an ESPN broadcast you would swear that they all were first round draft picks. If you do the math on this subject, it just isn’t possible.
The Zags have a lot of talent returning next season plus a transfer and red shirts. And last week Hachimura and Killian Tillie announced that they too would be returning for their junior seasons.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before but it bears repeating, sometimes the best recruiting a coach can do is to make sure that good players return for the next season and not leave for so called greener pastures.
I don’t think that anyone can say that this team doesn’t have the potential to be another Final Four team.
The hardest part for Coach Few is to make sure that the talent gets enough playing time. And honestly that is not going to be an easy task at all.
The competition level for the Bulldogs should be sky high and any team that has the Zags on their schedule cannot feel good about their chances for victory.
Gonzaga is on a different level right now and keeping players for another season is impressive. There is a culture at Gonzaga and these guys play so well together and seem to play for each other. When there are a lot of talented athletes that isn’t always the case.
Too many times players want to make that big impression for a pro scout and to heck with the team, whereas the Zags love winning and celebrating. That’s not a bad combination.
Young basketball players have a lot of choices once a season ends. They can transfer, declare for the NBA draft, play pro ball overseas or return for another season of college ball.
I happen to think that Hachimura and Tillie made smart choices and it will pay big dividends in their future.