Forward Killian Tillie is returning to Gonzaga for his junior season. Rui Hachimura announced Sunday he's coming back, too. Zags should have one of the top frontcourts in college basketball next season.— Jim Meehan (@SRJimm) April 11, 2018
What you hear is a multi-faceted sound: 1) a collective sigh from Spokane and beyond and; 2) the hype train completely bolting out of the station. Both Hachimura and Tillie have appeared in mock draft boards throughout the season. Tillie’s unique stretch skill set seemingly has him ready to do some damage in the NBA.
Tillie averaged 12.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, but did that in a hyper efficient manner. His averages extrapolate to 19.8 points and nine rebounds per 40 minutes. His eFG% was 65.2 on the season, up nearly 10 points from his freshman year. He showcased all of that on full display during the WCC Tournament, where he hit 13 of 14 three point shots. However, the NCAA Tournament dampened the enthusiasm on Tillie. He struggled in two games and was injured for the Zags Sweet 16 loss to Florida State.
Honestly, it is a little surprising to see both players flat out deny the NBA Draft, without even entertaining the notion of dipping a toe in without signing an agent. Whatever juice Mark Few and the coaching staff is selling, this squad is drinking fully and then some. The Zags are being casually bandied about as a potential Final Four squad, and all of that rested on the fate of Tillie and Hachimura’s decisions.
Now, the Zags will roll into next season with a frontcourt consisting of Tillie, Hachimura, and San Jose State transfer Brandon Clarke. Add in a hopefully fully healthy and ready to compete Jacob Larsen, and Filip Petrusev (can’t believe I forgot him on the first edition of this article), and you can make a solid case that the Bulldogs will have one of the best frontcourts in the entire nation. If not the best, than possibly the most dynamic and entertaining to watch.
Either way, the start of the 2018-19 season couldn’t be any further away, but at least we can head into the summer knowing that even better things than four straight Sweet 16 appearances are in the near future.