Nigel Williams-Goss announced last month that he was leaving the University of Washington. A few days ago, he somewhat surprised a lot of people by announcing his intention to transfer to the Gonzaga Bulldogs. It was the biggest coup for the Bulldogs since, well, Kyle Wiltjer a couple of years ago.
NWG is the latest in a series of high-profile transfers coming to Gonzaga. NWG also brings a bit of mystery as to why Gonzaga was his main choice. Williams-Goss will have to sit out a year of basketball as per transfer rules. By then, the intended Gonzaga backcourt of Josh Perkins and Silas Melson, with Bryan Alberts in the background, will be well established.
Still, surely, from Mark Few and the coaching staff's point of view, when a player of NWG's caliber comes knocking, you have to listen. Williams-Goss is a former McDonald's All-American and arguably one of the better, if not best, guards in the Pac-12. For what it is worth, he told Jim Meehan of the Spokesman Review this about his desire to play at Gonzaga:
"I like the job coach (Mark Few) does as far as being prepared, winning at a high level and the job they've done with redshirts," Williams-Goss said. "The up tempo offense with the ball screens really suits my style."
One of the perks of the SB Nation blog system is that there is virtually a blog for every team. Over at UW Dawg Pound, all-around nice and thoughtful guy Ben Knibbe took some time to answer some questions about a player he has spent the past two-years watching. Here is what we can learn about our incoming recruit.
TSSF: For the uninitiated Gonzaga fan, all they know about NWG was that he played for UW and was an All-American. For those that watched him play at UW, what kind/style of player is GU inheriting?
BK: Williams-Goss is a player who is going to have the ball in his hands a lot, but he tends to make good things happen with the ball in his hands. Early in the 2014-15 season we saw NWG running a lot of pick-n-rolls with Robert Upshaw and Shawn Kemp Jr., and Williams-Goss was very adept at running them. His best offensive skill is his between game, particularly his floater. His floater is probably the best in the country, and it is his best method of putting the ball in the basket.
He will also contribute on the boards, and when he does grab rebounds, he immediately looks to jumpstart the fast break, where his passing and finishing abilities flourish. His athleticism won't wow anybody, and it is his biggest weakness. The defensive end is where this shows up, though his strong frame and length can make up for it at times.
TSSF: After NWG announced his intention to transfer, there was a lot of internet chatter about NWG being bad/toxic personalities in the clubhouse. Both NWG and Romar (in interviews w/ Percy Allen I think) downplayed that topic of conversation. How much of this do you think is true and how much of it do you think is just the Internet being the Internet.
BK: No matter what was going on behind the scenes, Romar and NWG were always going to deny the discord rumored to have happened. I didn't think much of the rumors until I heard from Marshall Cherrington that Williams-Goss' appearance on the roster was a big deterrent to both Aaron Gordon and Jabari Bird. Neither wanted to play with NWG due to his ball-dominant style and his personality. Gordon was considered a shoo-in to commit to UW until his senior year, when he decided to attend Arizona.
So, basically, I think a lot of it is true. The issues were probably exacerbated by the amount of losing that went on during NWG's time at UW as well, but there is probably some truth to his personality causing clashes in the locker room.
TSSF: NWG basically played as many minutes as possible last season, and a majority of minutes his freshman year. The Bulldogs have a more than capable point guard in Josh Perkins already. How do you see him being able to share the distribution of minutes there?
BK:After saying there were probably personality issues going on behind the scenes, I can't say I see him sharing minutes with a player such as Perkins. He is going to have to figure out how because Perkins is a talented player, but it is just a decision that made me scratch my head. Williams-Goss isn't a particularly good off-ball player. He struggles mightily with his jumper and doesn't wow anybody with off-ball cuts. It just makes me scratch my head.
TSSF: Gonzaga and UW are set to finally start playing each other again in the 2016-17 season. What kind of ovation do you expect he'll receive in his first game back in Seattle since leaving?
BK: If he had transferred to any school other than Gonzaga I would expect cheers. Kirk DeGrasse of UWDP kindly summed up how UW fans view the decision: "One final middle finger to Romar."
TSSF: Early reports with had MSU, Gonzaga, Georgetown, UNLV, Texas, Arkansas and Providence on NWG's transfer list. Were you surprised by his final choice?
BK: I think he was trying to take the easiest path possible to get to the NCAA Tournament, honestly. Without Williams-Goss, the Zags are headed to the dance. Every one of those other teams is going to have a lot of question marks and a much tougher schedule. Even then, the decision confuses me. He's going to a team he should have been
brainwashed taught to hate (sorry). He is going to a team with an established point guard. I don't get it.
There will be plenty more to come on NWG since it is the real off portion of the off-season and the news doesn't necessarily generate itself, but there are some good points in there. Having one of your best players leave for your nemesis has to sting, but Ben writes some level-headed stuff over at UW Dawg Pound, and he raises some valid points. Considering the nature of recent transfers to Gonzaga, the question is whether the Bulldogs are getting another Bryon Wesley or another Gerard Coleman.