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Rui Hachimura named to Julius Erving Award watch list

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The Gonzaga junior is in the running for the top small forward in the nation.

Ohio State v Gonzaga Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Gonzaga Bulldogs junior forward Rui Hachimura was named to the watch list for the Julius Erving Award. The Julius Erving Award goes to the top small forward in the nation.

Hachimura’s inclusion in this is a no-brainer. The Gonzaga forward has been listed in very early talks as a potential National Player of the Year, and his showcase during the NCAA Tournament last season is exactly why.

The Gonzaga coaching staff has been as deliberate as possible with Hachimura, and the plan has always been to unleash him on the general public in his third year. Last season, we saw the beginning of that process. Hachimura averaged 11.6 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, but did all of that in just 20.7 minutes. His per 40 averages of 22.4 points and 9.1 rebounds are absolutely drool-inducing.

Hachimura is about as athletic of a player as Gonzaga has known in quite some time. Although he hasn’t demonstrated a consistent ability to shoot from three-point range, his creativity, speed, and bursts of power in the open floor make him one of the most dangerous players on the squad.

Combined into a front court with Killian Tillie and Brandon Clarke, the Zags can argue one of the top front courts in the nation resides in Spokane.

So far, the Zags are one of three teams to have a player named on each of the three pre-season award lists. On Tuesday, Zach Norvell Jr. was named to the Jerry West Award watch list, and on Monday, Josh Perkins was named to the Bob Cousy Award watch list.