We aren’t quite there yet, but pretty soon, all of our lives are going to get that much more exciting, because for the first time in school history, the Zags will open the year as a team who was in the national title game.
That in itself would be more impressive if we didn’t have one of the more odd “offseasons” in recent memory. Gonzaga’s first man off the bench Zach Collins declared for the NBA Draft, and he was joined by second-team All-American point guard Nigel Williams-Goss. Throw in a graduated (finally) Przemek Karnowski and Jordan Mathews, and the Zags had a whole lot of holes to fill.
But then right after that, there were some extra departures. Ryan Edwards, Bryan Alberts, and Dustin Triano all announced they were intending to transfer. Johnathan Williams threw his hat into the NBA Draft ring (sort of), and for a split second there, there was the legitimate question: can the last one leaving the locker room turn the lights off?
There were some weird misses, or at least misses for a program like Gonzaga, on the transfer market. Although not nearly as prolific a school such as Iowa State, the Bulldogs have been a top destination for graduate transfers in recent years. The success of Byron Wesley, Jordan Mathews, Kyle Wiltjer, Micah Downs, and others lent us all this aura of a security blanket. Despite the early departures to the program, someone was going to come in and help us out.
The ex-Dukee Chase Jeter flirted with Gonzaga and decided to go to Arizona. The Cal Golden Bears enormo-man Kameron Rooks chose San Diego State University over GU. One after another, a player would mention Gonzaga in passing and then turn their focus elsewhere.
On the recruiting front, things were looking abysmal, if you wish to be hyperbolic. Much of the fanbase was expecting an immediate return on investment from the NCAA title appearance, and well, that just isn’t how it works. Still, it didn’t make the decisions of players such as David Singleton and Taeshon Cherry any easier to swallow. Daejon Davis decommitted from the University of Washington (twice!) and ended up at Stanford. Most recently, Gonzaga has been hard after Kamaka Hepa, yet there is still no guarantee he decides to be a Bulldog.
All in all, after the Gonzaga Bulldogs reached the highest levels of success the school has ever seen, the subsequent offseason was an interesting one. And if you’ve read this far, you might think things are completely dire. But no! We aren’t done with this weird offseason.
The Zags hit up Europe once again, picking up speedy uber-athlete Joel Ayayi, whose recruitment went from announcing he was interested in playing in the states to signing with Gonzaga in roughly two weeks. The Zags finally snared their transfer man in Brandon Clarke (just a month ago), who will give Gonzaga two years of service after his time in the Olynyk Clinic is done.
Just recently, the two members of the 2019 class were boosted into the Scout.com top 100 rankings. The future, like it generally is in Spokane, is looking bright.
With that in mind, we approach the 2017-18 season, which is going to be wildly different than the 2016-17 season. The Zags are playing in the most high profile non-conference tournament of all time and hitting the bright lights of Madison Square Garden against Villanova. And they are doing this with pretty much only four players who played meaningful basketball minutes for the team consistently last season.
Buckle up, the ride is just getting started.