“The last three years at Gonzaga have been a dream come true, and now I’d like to pursue my next dream of playing in the NBA,” Hachimura said. “This was a significant decision for my family and myself. I just want to thank everyone at Gonzaga, especially the coaching staff and all of my teammates who went to battle with me and are my brothers for life. My three years as a Zag were very special and something I will never forget. I want to thank Zag nation and Spokane, Washington, for all of the love and support, and to the people of Japan who have been there cheering me on the whole way. Forever a Zag.”
Forever a Zag indeed. Rui’s story at Gonzaga has always been the three-year plan, and watching it all come to fruition this year has been well worth the wait. He was named the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year. He was the 2019 West Coast Conference Player of the Year and was named first team All-American by the NABC and the USBWA, as well as Wooden All-American.
All the while, he averaged 19.7 points, leading the Zags in scoring on their way to another Elite Eight appearance.
None of this should be much of a surprise to anyone. Hachimura has bounced around NBA Draft boards all season long, and is pretty much seen as a lock for the first round. The team that drafts Hachimura will have a player who hasn’t quite yet realized his full potential, and will be the first Japanese-born player to ever be drafted by the NBA.
The Santa Clara game had so much good offense (hello Brandon Clarke monster dunk), but I think you are hard pressed to find a better move than this. There is zero way to defend Rui here, outside of pushing him over. pic.twitter.com/GPbQTX6xCs— Slipper Still Fits (@slipperstillfit) January 26, 2019
From all of us here at SSF, we wish Rui the best, and thanks for the memories. It was always a delight watching you play.