The Gonzaga Bulldogs rolled into the offseason on a hype train to Mars, a roller coaster with a trajectory of the heavens and no where else. Rui Hachimura and Killian Tillie were returning. Zach Norvell had unleashed his star-potential during the NCAA Tournament. Life, as a Zags, was good.
Then it all got even better. Geno Crandall, perhaps the top graduate transfer on the market, committed to Gonzaga, and the one slightly missing piece of the puzzle was filled. The Zags had a true backup point guard to spell some time for Josh Perkins, and this team was now going to the Final Four, if not further.
Note how that entire last paragraph is in the past tense despite the fact it hasn’t taken place. As of now, nobody outside of Crandall himself really knows what is going on, but he is not on the roster. And, barring some sort of NCAA magic and Gonzaga-academic slipperiness, Geno Crandall is most likely not going to appear in a Gonzaga uniform for the first half of the season.
Turns out that when Crandall decided to commit to Gonzaga, he still wasn’t done with his degree yet—which is totally fine. He had a couple of classes to clear up over the summer, and expected to be on campus in August. It would appear that Crandall still has not satisfied the requirements of his degree at North Dakota, therefore making the graduate transfer process a bit more complicated.
As of now, Crandall is also not listed on the Fighting Hawks’ roster. Presumably, he was granted his release from the team when he declared his intentions to attend Gonzaga for the final year of eligibility.
That is the key portion of the equation here: Crandall red-shirted his freshman year. The NCAA pretty much holds strong to a four years of playing time in five years rule, with exceptions granted for injuries (Grant Gibbs and the never ending college career) or religion (LDS missions, for example). Crandall only has one more season left to play basketball, unless the NCAA intervenes on his behalf.
Crandall is stuck in a no man’s land at the moment. Even if he finished his requirements, unless the NCAA grants him some sort of mysterious waiver, he can’t join the Gonzaga Bulldogs until the start of the second semester. He still would transfer immediately in that scenario, but he would be diving into a role where he has not practiced a minute with the squad, doesn’t know the offense, and would have to find his role while hitting the ground at a break-neck sprint.
There is no denying that a Crandall addition to the Gonzaga roster is an improvement. Crandall averaged 16.6 points and 3.6 assists per game last season while shooting 41 percent from long range. Perkins played 81.1 percent of minutes possible last season as the only true ball handler. This season, the new additions to the backcourt are Greg Foster Jr., who will probably need a bit of seasoning, and Joel Ayayi, an exciting guard, but someone who more commonly plays off the ball.
There is questioning how much of an impact Crandall would have on the roster, in this theoretical situation where he still transfers at the start of the second semester. He will be a complete new soul in a potentially top-5, ruthless machine of basketball efficiency. That is a lot of offense to learn, and a lot of defense to master, to carve out an important role on the team during the fading sunlight of your college career.
As of now, it is safe to assume Crandall is not on the roster because, well, he technically is not on the roster. It is still a question of whether or not we even see him in a Gonzaga uniform this season, and for that, we will have to wait.