If you ask the common college basketball fan to name a player on the Gonzaga team, most likely they are gonna call out Rui Hachimura or “that lanky guy from Japan”. Rui jumped onto the national scene last year with his exciting coast-to-coast plays and rim-rattling dunks. This season, Rui is considered one of the most exciting players to watch in all of NCAA basketball and I believe should be considered as one of the top preseason candidates for the Naismith National Player of Year.
In his sophomore season, Rui averaged 11.6 PPG and 4.7 RPG while being selected to the All-WCC 1st Team. He shot a very efficient .568% from the field while averaging 20.7 MPG. I expect his minutes to increase in his junior campaign as Mark Few will want Rui to get to the rim on an even more consistent basis and be one of the leaders on this team. I know you have heard it over and over again (especially from me), but Rui, Clarke, and Tillie will make up one of the best front-courts in the nation.
Coming into this season, Rui has been nationally recognized as a lottery pick in the upcoming NBA Draft (if he chooses to leave) due to his athleticism and high-flying abilities. We have seen Rui become very comfortable around the rim as well as a good defender on both bigger and smaller opponents (especially off the pick-and-roll). If their is anything Rui needs to improve in order to increase his NBA stock is to add more to his mid-range game and work on his almost non-existent three-point game. In today’s NBA, it doesn’t matter if you stand 5’10 or if you stand 6’8 (Rui’s height), you must be able to extend out to the three-point line. Hachimura only shot 5-26 from three-point land which adds up to a very low .192%. Let’s hope we see these numbers make a healthy increase in the 2018-2019 season for Rui. It wouldn’t hurt to add yet another deep-shooting threat to a Gonzaga team who was just named the #3 best shooting team in the nation according to NCAA correspondent, Andy Katz.
Anyways, be ready for next June at the NBA Draft when you hear from either Jay Bilas or Chauncey Billups compare Rui Hachimura to Giannis Antetokounmpo during one of the lottery picks. You heard me right.
*Arden Cravalho is a senior at Gonzaga University... Follow him on Twitter @a_cravalho