This year, the Zags will lose one, most likely two, and possibly more players to an early departure. Such is what happens when your team becomes really good. The Gonzaga Bulldogs, for the most part, have avoided a plethora of early departures throughout their tenure.
That time is probably changing, starting with the departures of Nigel Williams-Goss and Zach Collins in 2017. We will probably see at least Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke head for a basketball career that actually pays some money.
Just to keep track with how the process all works, here are the key dates we, as Zag fans, need to know:
April 21: NBA Early Entry Deadline
Any player who would like to put their name into the NBA Draft hat needs to declare their intentions by this date. Just because a player tosses their name into the ring at this point does not mean their college career is over. This is the “testing the water” phase. Johnathan Williams III did this after his junior year. Don’t be surprised if Zach Norvell does it this year. As long as a player does not hire an agent, they maintain their college eligibility.
May 14-19: NBA Draft Combine
For a few days in Chicago, the best of the best will get together and participate in the draft combine, which allows scouts from all the NBA teams to measure stats, watch agility tests, and study players during five-on-five action. The combine is by invite-only, although often times, guaranteed top picks and other players will avoid it, most likely if they have a verbal agreement with a team. If Zion is not on the draft combine roster, it literally means nothing.
May 29: NCAA Early Entry Entrant Withdrawal Deadline
Welcome to the straight-up idiocy of the whole process. The NBA and the NCAA have different deadlines for when players need to take their hats out of the NBA draft pool, but in reality, the date that matters for us is May 29. Any player who has not signed with an agent needs to let Gonzaga know they plan on returning by this date or it is done.
June 10: NBA Draft Early Entry Entrant Withdrawal Deadline
I guess theoretically this date matters if a player is coming from Europe, but as said above, not for our purposes.
June 20: NBA Draft 2019
This is the big day to put on the calendar. Crazy to think that Gonzaga is at a place where this is worth watching pretty much every year.