Now that college basketball season is over, the national pundits all put out their way too early top 25 rankings.
Top 25 rankings, in general, aren’t that insightful, and these sets of rankings are even less so, considering the NBA Draft hasn’t happened yet and no one has any idea who is staying and who is going.
That said, things next year are looking good to very good from the major publications for the Gonzaga Bulldogs, with the friendlier rankings assuming that Killian Tillie and Zach Norvell return, while Brandon Clarke and Rui Hachimura depart.
Rui Hachimura is certain to depart, but fellow forward Brandon Clarke is less of a lock. Expect Corey Kispert and Killian Tillie to take on expanded roles, and Zach Norvell to become a leader. The Bulldogs are also in the rare position of having one of nation’s top recruiting classes.
Mark Few and Gonzaga are going to have another 30-win season. That’s just the way it goes. But don’t get it twisted; the Bulldogs won’t be bereft of talent, despite the expected losses of Brandon Clarke and Rui Hachimura and the graduation of Josh Perkins. Starters Corey Kispert and Zach Norvell will both be back, though Norvell could test the NBA draft waters. Killian Tillie should be healthy. Filip Petrusev could be poised for a breakout season. Plus, Few brings in a loaded recruiting class. The lone question will be at the point guard spot.
Clarke is a close call, but for now I’ll lean towards expecting him to turn pro. Even if he does, as long as Norvell and Tillie return, the Zags should not fall off at all. I expect Petrusev to take a huge step forward, and Mark Few is bringing in a six-man freshman class that is ranked No. 5 in the country by 247sports.
Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke are almost certain to leave early, and Josh Perkins is graduating. But the ‘Zags should have a nucleus of Zach Norvell, Killian Tillie and Corey Kispert to go along with a strong recruiting class that features big men Drew Timme, Pavel Zakharov and Oumar Ballo and talented wings Anton Watson and Martynas Arlauskas. The question here will be at the point guard spot, where freshman Brock Ravet will likely get the call along with a ‘TBD’ grad transfer.
For my money, I think you can make an argument the Zags are a top 10 team if both Tillie and Snacks return. If Tillie doesn’t return, you are looking at an incredibly talented, BUT, very young team, and that would move them down to No. 15-20.
Where do you think the Zags should end up?