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2018-2019 Player Preview: The Rise of Zach Norvell Jr.

Zach’s stock is only up from here

Zach “Snacks” Norvell Jr. really jumped onto the national scene last year during March Madness with his clutch three-point dagger over the upset-minded Spartans of UNCG. Then, he came back even stronger in the second round against Ohio State with a career-high of 28 points/12 rebounds to go along with 4 assists/2 steals in the 90-84 win over the Buckeyes. Without the big-time play of “Snacks” last year in March, Gonzaga might’ve never made it to the Sweet 16.

After redshirting his first year at Gonzaga, Norvell Jr. came back the next season in 2017-2018 with averages of 12.7 PPG, 3.9 RPG, and 2.3 APG while shooting 37% from the 3-point line. He scored in double digits in 24 of Gonzaga’s 37 games in the 2017-2018 season, including 5 20-point games. Zach actually had a three-game stretch of 20-point games against #25 Creighton, #4 Villanova at MSG, and at Washington. You could say this kid likes to show up when the pressure is at its highest. Pretty good numbers for his first college basketball season and I expect his production to step up during his redshirt sophomore year campaign with an even more consistent play.

The deep-threat leftie isn’t just a catch-and-shoot type of player but someone who can play off the dribble, either stepping back for a three or taking it straight to the hole with a left-handed slam. The WCC-Newcomer of the Year has athleticism skills but will NEED to work on his defensive playing abilities if he wants to make any sort of improvements from his stellar freshmen year. His work-load on the offensive end will be about the same as last year due to the return of Rui Hachimura and Killian Tillie (plus the addition of Geno Crandall and Brandon Clarke) but he needs to find other ways besides through his offensive shooting ability to impact the game.

The 6-5 shooting guard from Simeon High School in Chicago (same school as Jabari Parker and Derrick Rose) will have the eyes of NBA scouts on him this season and could possibly, if he chooses to make the decision to leave school, be a mid-to-late second-round pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. But again, he could only do that if he uses his length and height for the guard position more on the defensive-end of the court while learning to become a two-way type of player.

*Arden Cravalho is a senior at Gonzaga University... Follow him on Twitter @a_cravalho