Mar 17, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Gary Bell Jr. (5) dribbles the ball up court against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the first half in the third round of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the CONSOL Energy Center. Ohio State won 73-66. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
For the first time since the end of the 2007/2008 season, there seems to be a real hope that something special could be on the way for Gonzaga. Barring a surprising change of plans from Elias Harris, it looks like he will return for his senior season to partner with the explosive backcourt of Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. While the loss of Robert Sacre will be tough for the program, especially from an emotional and leadership standpoint, his actual production on the court should be filled by Sam Dower, who will look to make the jump from super-sub to starter.
There won't be many teams in the country that have the luxury of returning five of their top six scorers, with the reasonable expectation that a handful of those guys should make a big jump in production and maturity. The one position that remains a bit of a question mark is the SF, which proved to be the Achilles heel for this team last season. As we mentioned, Mathis Keita will be transferring out of the program, which isn't a huge surprise given his lack of minutes during his first two seasons in Spokane. There also seems to be a legitimate chance that The Hoff will look elsewhere after failing to develop his role after a fairly promising freshman season. If he does decide to transfer, that will leave the combo of Guy Landry-Edi and Mike Hart, as well as Kyle Dranginis, who appears to have the size to fill in at that roleSo if you assume that The Hoff and Keita both transfer, along with the graduation of Marquise Carter and Rob Sacre, that would leave four open scholarships for next season. I still firmly expect one of the scholarships to end up with Przemek Karnowski. With that said, there is certainly the possibility that a big time European team could offer he and his family a financial opportunity that they couldn't turn down. However, the Polish big man has done everything so far to fit with NCAA compliance, so if he decides that playing college basketball is the route that he wants to go, I would expect him to be in Spokane next season.
One other option that has been buzzed a little about in the past couple of weeks is Majok Majok, who plays at the same JC that produced Landry-Edi. There were a couple of newspaper reports about Gonzaga being interested back in October, but it appears there might still be some interest. Majok is a similar player to Kuso, which means he can make an impact defensively and on the glass, but probably isn't a primary offensive threat. One thing missing in the frontcourt next year is an intimidating defensive threat who can block shots, which is exactly what Majok would bring to the table. If both Majok and Karnowski are realistic options, it would seem likely that Ryan Spangler would be destined for a redshirt year. However, the best bet would be that it's going to be one or the other, with Karnowski still the primary option.
In terms of who might be added at the SF position, I would expect it to be a guy the staff thinks can come in and potentially start immediately. The one name that is sure to grab attention is Trent Lockett, who is transferring from Arizona St. and would be able to play right away. The appeal of Lockett is that he is a high-level scorer who was probably the best player on a very poor Arizona St. team. He is not a guy that will completely dominate a game and be a No. 1 scoring option, but he is a very talented offensive player that would give Gonzaga one of the most skilled starting 5's in the nation. Lockett has some ties to Gonzaga, as he played AAU ball with Sam Dower for Net Gain Sports. The key for Lockett will be getting him on campus for a visit, as one of the reasons behind his transfer is to be closer to his ailing mother.
There have been some other guys speculated about as a potential addition to the roster, including Amedeo Della Valle. However, it's starting to look like the staff will only bring in a SF who can contribute immediately. It looks like Kyle Dranginis is the guy for the future at that position and there are certainly some good options that will pop up in recruiting for 2013 and beyond.