Nigel Williams-Goss transferred from the University of Washington to Gonzaga for the chance to win. Based on the season the Zags just completed, I’d say that decision was fully justified and validated.
It’s hard not to compare the trajectory of the two programs when discussing Williams-Goss. The Huskies only mustered 28 total wins over the two seasons since Williams-Goss left campus. That number pales in comparison to the 37 victories claimed by the Zags in just the 2016-17 campaign to which the heady point guard significantly contributed.
Williams-Goss led a very balanced Gonzaga team in scoring (16.8ppg), assists (4.7apg), steals (1.7spg), and free throw percentage (86.7%), and was second on the team in rebounding (6.0rpg). By the end of the season, Williams-Goss had a WCC Player of the Year Award in his trophy cabinet and a place on the AP All-American Second Team. He was a finalist for every single postseason award for which he could be eligible, including the Wooden Player of the Year Award.
As was demonstrated over and over again throughout the season, Williams-Goss proved he had the ability to be Gonzaga’s closer. Several times during the season—games against Iowa State, Arizona, Tennessee, Saint Mary’s and at BYU come to mind—Williams-Goss answered the bell in crunch time. Whether it was a clutch basket or making the right pass, he made a big play on multiple occasions to help seal a victory for the Zags.
Beyond just his statistical contributions, Williams-Goss was a great leader for the team, and everything you could ask for as a spokesperson for the program. He helped set the tone for the season as early as the retreat to Idaho in September. After the crushing defeat to BYU, Williams-Goss was one of the players who helped reset the team’s focus. Even in the midst of heartbreak after the championship game his character shined as he answered every question asked of him and spoke of the team’s achievements rather than the lone shortcoming. In dong so he spotlighted the elevation of the program to a higher level.
All season long, the Oregon native was the best player on college basketball’s best team. He never backed down in big moments, and embraced the challenge of chasing his biggest dreams.
It’s safe to say that the union of Williams-Goss and Gonzaga has been mutually beneficial. With the help of Gonzaga’s great coaches, Williams-Goss took his game to another level. The fruits of that labor propelled the Zags to their own new heights, finally breaking through the Final Four barrier and going all the way to the national championship game.
Whether he returns for a final season or moves on to another level, Williams-Goss has already made his mark on the program. When he announced he was trading in Seattle for Spokane, this season was exactly what he envisioned.