From Geno Crandall to Jordan Mathews, the Gonzaga Bulldogs have turned into a solid landing space for graduate transfers looking at one last shot in the NCAA Tournament.
In most cases, the transfer is able to conveniently fill a hole in the roster. Crandall supplemented Josh Perkins at point guard. Byron Wesley and Jordan Mathews both slotted into squads that did not really have a small forward.
Looking to next year, as the roster stands, the Zags have no more scholarships to give. Most likely, at minimum, Gonzaga will lose one player to the NBA Draft (and probably more), giving Gonzaga room to inquire in the graduate transfer market—and inquire they have.
Jeff Goodman keeps a running list of all of the known transfers at the moment. For the Zags, the big question for the roster is who runs the whole freaking thing. After losing Josh Perkins and Crandall to graduation, Gonzaga has two true point guards on the roster in Greg Foster Jr. and Joel Ayayi, who combined to play 247 minutes this season.
Some fans are eager to think that Zach Norvell and Corey Kispert (yes someone actually tweeted that one) could easily step into the point full-time. And although none of us here doubt the abilities of either player, shifting positional roles for Norvell, or any player really, is never going to be your optimal plan going forward in that player’s development.
The insane recruiting class coming into GU next season doesn’t help at all either. Of the six players, only Brock Ravet is a guard. Logic dictates if the Zags are going to be trying to bolster any parts of the roster next season, it will be finding a senior guard to assist at the point.
So who is on the market at point? For true point guards, unfortunately, it is looking a little grim.
Brandon Boyd, Idaho State - 14.2 points, 3.6 assists
You might remember Boyd from the first game of this season, in which he scored 15 points and dished out seven assists. Boyd isn’t big, only standing at 6’0, so he would need a bit of defensive help from Norvell and Kispert on the outside. He isn’t the best outside shooter and struggled with turnovers his junior year. He is a stellar free throw shooter (81 percent) and is great at drawing contact and fouls. That said, the list for his services, like most transfers, is rather long.
Big transfer news: Brandon Boyd, will leave Idaho State as a grad transfer, away after averaging 14 points per game last year. Has heard from over 70 schools including Gonzaga, Nevada, TCU, Utah, Xavier and Boston College per his HS coach @coachmiddlebrks. @frogsowar @PackHoops— Aaron Torres (@Aaron_Torres) April 3, 2019
Dazon Ingram, Alabama - 7.1 points, 2.6 assists
Ingram’s stats don’t necessarily leap out of the box score, but that is because he only averaged 20 minutes per game last season. He is also stuck behind freshman guard Kira Lewis, so next season while he was rolling tide, it would be the exact same scenario. Ingram is 6’5 and 210 pounds, and he will provide some solid defensive effort in the backcourt. He is a career 35 percent shooter and is not a good free throw shooter either. If the Zags land Ingram, he would be a more supplemental piece to the backcourt while Ayayi and Foster take time to fill into the speed of the college game.
Alright, so who else is there, is the next logical question? The Zags have reached out to a few other players, but reaching out here is simply the, “hey, we are interested.” None of the players above, or below, should be read to far into — as Aaron Torres noted above: 70 schools is a lot of schools.
Max Hazzard, UC Irvine - 12.5 points, 2.1 assists
You might remember Max Hazzard from his bad-ass last name and his 19 points in the Anteaters upset over Kansas State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Hazzard would join Zach Norvell as the bomb squad from long range. He shoots 38 percent from long range and attempted 6.5 three pointers per game last season. Paired with Norvell in the backcourt, it would be a wonder if the guards ever funneled the ball down low.
Christian Keeling, Charleston Southern - 18.7 points, 6.9 rebounds
Keeling is a superb scorer from both long range and in the mid-game, and is one of those players who is definitively all over the court for 40 minutes. He was a solid defensive player in his junior year, but he did struggle a bit with turnovers. Next season, the M.O. against the Gonzaga backcourt will be pressure, pressure, pressure, so he’d need to clean up his control of the ball to maximize his efficiency.
Justin Pierce, William & Mary - 14.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists
Pierce is probably one of the premier wingers on the market, and would’ve slotted in perfectly with previous Gonzaga squads like Bryon Wesley and Jordan Mathews. Kispert filled in nicely in this role for two years, but, that said, if you can land Pierce, you land Pierce. He would provide some senior leadership for an inexperienced front court, and he did lead William & Mary with 4.1 assists per game. Unfortunately, for Gonzaga, they need that playmaking ability in the backcourt.
The Zags have been linked to plenty of other players (like plenty of other schools), but these are the key ones so far. It will be interesting to watch in the coming months who, if anyone, the coaching staff is able to land, and how that incoming player will fit into next year’s puzzle.