Every key pillar of the Gonzaga Bulldogs frontcourt announced that they would return to the Bulldogs next season, with Kyle Wiltjer's domino falling in a favorable place on Monday.
Wiltjer was the last hold out, and the one that garnered quite a bit of Internet rumoring. He joins Domantas Sabonis and Przemek Karnowski to round out what could easily be argued as one of the best frontcourts in the entire college landscape.
With all three players, it seemed the decision to leave school early or return of another year wouldn't be a surprising one regardless of which way the decision went. Sabonis ended any speculation early and pretty much declared he would return for another right after the Duke loss. Karnowski tweeted in Polish that he was contemplating his other options, but decided to come back for his senior year last Friday.
Wiltjer was the wild-card. As a member of the Kentucky Wildcats, he already has a national championship. He was a star-player in the national landscape this year and helped bring the Gonzaga Bulldogs to their first Elite Eight since 1999. But it is also an incredibly loaded draft, especially with big men, this year. Karl Towns, Jahlil Okafor, Willie Cauley-Stein, Frank Kaminksy and Myles Turner are all projected as top-10 picks, and all of those players are better than Wiltjer is.
This is a biased Gonzaga blog, so it is easy to say that all three made the right decision to come back for another year. In reality, they did. Wiltjer's defense is suspect enough that, combined with the how deep this year's draft class is, he probably wouldn't have made the cut -- or it would be a real gamble to attempt. Sabonis, as good as he is, needs another year of seasoning for that emotional output so he can avoid dumb fouls and turnovers when he gets heated. Karnowski was probably the most complete out of all the players, but, again, with how deep the draft is, he probably would've missed the cut.
Now, all three are coming back to a Gonzaga team that is still going to be very good, and for the purposes of showcasing your skills, even better than last year. Josh Perkins and Silas Melson are great players, but are also young players. Mark Few will lean on this veteran frontcourt a lot next season, and for all the exposure the Karnowski, Sabonis and Wiltjer got, it will only increase next year.