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Weekly Zag Briefing

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Gonzaga is a trendy Final Four pick.

Idaho State v Gonzaga Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

We did it, we made it to the start of the season after an offseason that felt exceedingly long. Opening night in college basketball was electric, from Gonzaga’s dominant victory over the poor Bengals of Idaho State to Duke’s thrashing of Kentucky in the Champions Classic. Here’s what we have from around the web as it pertains to all things Gonzaga:

  • Brian Vecenie of The Athletic wrote an in-depth scouting profile on Rui Hachimura. This is an excellent story and is definitely worth your time. Vecenie covers Rui’s early childhood in Japan when he played baseball until the age of 12 before picking up basketball, how Arizona made a stronger first impression at the beginning of his recruiting (Rui ultimately committed to Gonzaga one week after Tommy Lloyd watched him play in person following that ill-fated 2015 game against Pitt at a base in Japan that was cancelled at halftime), and Gonzaga’s 3-year plan for Rui. At the end of piece, Lloyd is quoted as saying “Rui is ready.” Based on what we saw in the opener, I think he’s right.
  • I guess it’s never too early for a 2019 NCAA Tournament bracket prediction (counterpoint: the start of the season is too early). But I’ll allow it since Gonzaga is tabbed to be a #1 seed in the West per Sports Illustrated, as well as Bleacher Report’s bracket (BR also predicts the Zags to reach the Final Four). Evan Daniels of 24/7 Sports also picked the Zags to make the Final Four.
  • The Ringer’s Mark Titus included Rui in his guide to the best players in college basketball this season, and supported his inclusion by highlighting the fact that Rui led the Zags in scoring during WCC play last year and will now have to carry a bigger load with Killian Tillie out for the next two months.
  • Earlier this week, The Spokesman-Review hosted a “Gonzaga Legends” event that included Matt Santangelo, Dan Dickau, Casey Calvary, and Adam Morrison in a live event to discuss all things Gonzaga basketball. There are some fun snippets from the evening in the linked article, including key memories involving Mark Few and their favorite Zags to watch.
  • Mark Few sat down with Jeff Goodman for an extended conversation (video) regarding Few’s views on the college basketball recruiting scandal (Few is hoping for very strong penalties), comparisons between this team and the Final Four squad, and what he has planned for the future (he’s not leaving Spokane anytime soon). I really enjoy these opportunities to hear from Few beyond a quick in-game interview or the standard post-game sound bites. He’s a standard bearer in college basketball and it’s easy to see why he has the respect of so many other coaches around the country.
  • Domantas Sabonis is having a great start to his third season in the NBA and second season with the Indiana Pacers. Sabonis has always been an excellent rebounder and reliable finisher around the basket, but his ball handling and passing skills are also starting to get noticed.
  • The mothership broke down its Top 25 teams to start the season and why you should watch them, with the Zags coming in at No. 3.
  • The mothership also posted its ranking of the Top 100 players in college basketball, and Gonzaga landed four players in that list including three in the top 50.
  • NBC Sports previewed the WCC and predicts that Rui will win the conference’s player of the year award, while BYU will receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament alongside the Zags.