Two of Gonzaga’s biggest reasons to be excited this year doubled-down on that hype on Friday, with both Killian Tillie and Rui Hachimura having huge games in the 2017 FIBA U-19 World Cup for France and Japan, respectively.
Tillie wasn’t able to lead France past Canada in the quarterfinals, but he did everything in his power to try. The sophomore forward finished with 22 points, 17 rebounds, two assists, and two steals. He went through one slightly ugly stretch with three turnovers in three possessions, but other than that, his game was a total gem.
This time around, Tillie kept his game plan rooted down low. He only took a couple of shots from outside the circle, and focused on hitting 10-of-15 shots around the hoop.
Hachimura was one of the best players of the entire day, scoring 21 points, grabbing nine rebounds, and dishing out four assists in a 77-64 win over Korea. As we talked about earlier today, Hachimura is really having a breakout tournament, and today was no exception. Perhaps the most impressive accomplishment of Hachimura’s day was going a perfect 12-for-12 from the free throw line.
The Zags lost what many teams might consider too much at the end of the season. With Przemek Karnowski, Jordan Mathews, Nigel Williams-Goss and Zach Collins all departing, Gonzaga basically lost the equivalent of four starters (yeah yeah yeah Collins didn’t, but he would have on any other team in the nation).
The front court especially got hammered, and the success of this team will largely be tied to how well it is able to perform next season. We all know what we have in Johnathan Williams. Jacob Larsen is a mystery, and hopefully a pleasant one. Both Tillie and Hachimura have shown leadership with their respective squads. Their showings so far in the FIBA U-19s should give us plenty of reason for optimism next season.