The Gonzaga and Texas secret scrimmage has become an annual affair under Rick Barnes and Mark Few. For the Bulldogs, this has become a massively important day for them as it gives them yet another chance to face elite competition prior to starting their season. This year, in particular, will be such a fantastic test for the Zags as the Longhorns are expected to be one of the top teams in the country and feature a frightening front court that will really give the Bulldogs a test. As always, if you are in the Phoenix area, I recommend sneaking through the air ducts at the arena to get into this one as it should be one heck of a practice.
The Longhorns feature one of the best and probably the deepest frontcourt in the country. A prime example of how deep they are is the fact that Jonathan Holmes, their leading scorer from a year ago, has dropped 20 lbs and is changing positions just so he can remain in the starting lineup. Likely taking Holmes' spot and the power forward and shoving him to small forward is freshman Myles Turner. Turner, the 9th overall rated player in last year's recruiting class, is a frightening stretch forward at 6'11", 255lbs. He has one-and-done written all over him as he's been called one of the best rim protectors in recent memory. Turner and Holmes will be joined by 6'9'', 285 lb. space eating Cameron Ridley who is a prototypical back to the basket big man. Turner and Ridley will be an absolute nightmare for guards driving to drive the lane defensively as Ridley will clog the lane and Turner will clean up the scraps.
The frontcourt is grabbing all the headlines for the Longhorns but point guard Isaiah Taylor is expected to make a big jump this season, as well. As a freshman, Taylor averaged nearly 13 points and 4 assists per contest. Rick Barnes has maintained that Taylor is going to be the leader of this team and has stepped up his vocal direction of the squad. Taylor's ability to shoot the basketball will be paramount to the Horns success this year. He only shot 39% from the floor and 26% from deep and with such a talented frontcourt, the fear is that teams will be able to sag off the guards and put more pressure on the bigs to operate in tight spaces. If Taylor improves his ability to drill shots from outside, the sky is the limit for the ridiculously talented Lonhorns.
It goes without saying that this would be one of the premier matchups of the year if it counted for anything. The opportunity to see Gonzaga's new look frontcourt against Texas' supremely talented and athletic group would be outstanding. There's no one on Gonzaga that can matchup with Myles Turner but I'd love to see Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis try and matchup with him. Additionally, seeing Przemek Karnowski line up against Ridley is a matchup of a couple old school space eating centers. The Zags do seem to have an advantage on the perimeter as the Horns really struggled to shoot the ball from the outside a year ago.
We'll try and report all we can from the scrimmage but, seriously, please try and sneak in!