Is it too soon to start looking towards the 2016-17 season?
I'd like to think not. Because trying to look at what happened last night doesn't sound fun. It sounds like something that needs at least 24 hours of emotional distance to at least try and approach it from an angle that has some semblance of reality attached.
So if you can't look backwards, and right now doesn't involve any actual basketball, then all we can do is look forward. And for the Gonzaga Bulldogs, the future looks very bright, despite what they lose this season.
Gonzaga will lose, for sure, Kyle Wiltjer, Kyle Dranginis and Eric McClellan. That is not something that is easy to swallow. Gonzaga is losing one of the best scorers in college this season, the token four-year glue guy who represents everything that it means to be a Zag, and the best defender on the team.
Then there is the possibility of Domantas Sabonis and Przemek Karnowski leaving early. Sabonis might go to the NBA and Karnowski might do something similar. That is not something easy to swallow either. Gonzaga might also lose the heart and soul of their team and one of the best forwards in the nation. They also might lose their 7'0 mammoth of a center, and one of the best passing big-men in the nation.
But here I am, telling you that Gonzaga can possibly lose five players at the end of this season and still have plenty to look forward to.
There are all the pieces coming in. Gonzaga welcomes its highest rated recruiting class in school history.They have four four-star recruits. They have McDonalds All-American Zach Collins, the sixth-highest rated center. They have Killian Tillie, from France, the 21st-highest forward. They have Jacob Larsen, the 17th-highest rated forward. They have Zach Norvell, who has been lighting up Chicago, the 15th-highest rated shooting guard. They also possibly have Rui Hachumura from Tokyo, a versatile shooting forward (all ratings courtesy of 247sports.com).
They will join incoming point guard transfer Nigel Williams-Goss and Missouri transfer Johnathan Williams as instant starters and pieces to the puzzle.
This entire crew should give Mark Few the depth to have options at guard other than Josh Perkins and Silas Melson. Or, Perkins and Melson will work their asses off over the summer and be able to finally put all the beautiful pieces of their games we saw in bits and pieces this season into one all-around package.
And all of this is just the minimum. If Przemek Karnowski decides to return to Gonzaga, Collins can develop at a rate that benefits everyone. Or, Collins is ready to go from the beginning, and the Zags have two stellar seven footers at center.
Maybe Domantas Sabonis comes back next year to get his college degree and suddenly Gonzaga has Sabonis and Williams in the front court. At that point, the team would legitimately have to look at who they would redshirt: Tillie or Larsen.
Or it could be somewhere in the middle. Even at that point, the Zags are most likely a preseason top-25 team, possibly even a top-15 team. There is a lot of promise with this team, and that feels really good.
That is how the sting of yesterday will feel better. By looking a tad bit at the future of what it is to come. We can still diagnose and analyze what happened yesterday, but we have a whole offseason to do that. Why get started soon?