Gonzaga Bulldogs head coach Mark Few recently appeared on Andy Katz’s “March Madness 365” podcast to discuss the draft process, the presumed starting five, and a whole host of other topics. Click here to listen to the podcast.
The podcast began chatting about the draft process, noting that Gonzaga was on the good side of the coin this year with Rui Hachimura and Killian Tillie all returning. Few noted that it essentially shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise that both returned. Tillie was injured and would not have been able to go through any workouts or the combine, and Hachimura is still on his track.
“In Rui’s case, he has had a plan,” Few said. “He knows where he needs to grow and develop. He is refreshing. He really values the college experience, all the fun he is having, and the exposure he gets from that. He has an understanding that he has a little bit more developing that needs to be done.”
Perhaps the most interesting part of the podcast is Few detailing what essentially sounds like will be the starting five. So let’s break down everything he said.
Because Perkins is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, he has not played any basketball at all since the season ended. For Few, he is mostly looking for improved maturity and leadership from his senior point guard.
“I’m hoping where the growth shows with him is his maturity dealing with different situations on the floor, how he reacts to them, and how he reads them.”
It looks like Few is expecting big things from Norvell for his sophomore campaign. In Few’s words, “He is a gunslinger, brash, no moment is too big, and that is a great quality to have.” This was readily apparent throughout the year, and especially in the NCAA Tournament. Now, Few wants to see Norvell evolve into a player that makes everyone around him better—specifically comparing him to Villanova great Jalen Brunson.
“I’d like to see him evolve into a type of Brunson type. How patient he was in the lane, strong, getting a two foot stop, settling down and creating for others. Zach is capable of that. I think he is going to make a big jump defensively for us, not just guarding the ball, but on the defensive glass. That is what we need next out of him. There are some big expectations.”
Everyone is most excited about Hachimura, and with good reason. The Gonzaga forward was electric in the NCAA Tournament, and the consistent track he has been on with the Gonzaga coaching staff is ready to explode next season. Few pointed out that Hachimura’s upbringing in Japan is almost something they needed to coach out of him. He called the trait of respect, although a good thing, something that also caused Rui to defer to others when perhaps he didn’t need to.
“He is on track to have a great year. People are going to notice a difference from where he was in March to right now—skill, beginning to understand I can impact a game if I really apply myself, in a variety of ways.”
Few name dropped Tillie in a long line of great Gonzaga shooters, including Richie Frahm, Kyle Wiltjer, Kevin Pangos, and Gary Bell Jr. Nothing has changed there, and it looks like we can expect more of the same from the junior forward next season.
“He is now healthy. We are back to getting him stronger and working some things off the bounce and being able to score in a variety of ways. He has a great future ahead of him and a real area of growth still untapped.”
This is the wild card to be excited about. Clarke averaged 17.3 points and 8.7 rebounds for San Jose State in his sophomore year. He will be a offensive anchor down low for the Zags, and his style of play will be a nice compliment to Tillie’s ability to stretch the floor.
“He is a quick jumper and can get up and block shots. He has a nice touch around the basket, but has also helped himself to stretch his shot to the three line. He can get down, move his feet, help us guard, and switch a lot of screens.”
There is a good reason that the Zags are highly rated going into the way too early preseason picks. Listening to Mark Few talk about the Zags, it is impossible to not get overly excited right now, despite the fact basketball doesn’t start for months. Until then, tide yourselves over with a few podcasts when you can.