A simple entry pass from Killian Tillie to Drew Timme in the post. Timme takes two dribbles right, then drop steps and spins left for a left-handed lay-up with St. Mary’s Kyle Bowen helplessly fouling him from behind. Dick Vitale, forsaking his Killian Tillie man-crush explodes, “he’s my new favorite player……love ‘em.”
Gonzaga was in the process of defeating St. Mary’s to win the WCC Tournament. Timme would lead the Zags in scoring with 17 points on 7 for 8 from the field. Earlier in the year, Timme dropped 20 points with 10 rebounds in the Gaels blow-out at Moraga. In the post championship interview, Mark Few patiently answered Sean Farnham’s questions before seeming going off script and blurting out “how about Drew Timme.”
Drew Timme took a somewhat circuitous route from Dallas to Spokane. His father Matt played four years at SMU and the Mustangs hoped to land him. Oklahoma St. gave him his first scholarship offer with as many as 30 schools showing interest. Former Gonzaga walk-on Stephen Gentry was Oklahoma State’s director of player development in 2016-2017. After the 2017 season, he was hired by Mark Few as Gonzaga’s director of basketball operations. Credit Gentry for bringing Timme to Gonzaga’s attention, introducing him to the coaching staff and helping convince him GU would be the ideal place to develop his skills.
Before the season, it looked like Timme would have to battle his fellow talented freshman for minutes. Watson’s Injury, Ballo’s ineligibility coupled with Arlauskas and Zakharov being not quite ready gave Timme a default spot in a thin, 7-man rotation. No one needed to worry though, Timme proved to be more than ready and capable for the job.
Timme scored double digits his first four games, averaging over 13 points per game and shooting 70% from the field. His impressive footwork in the post belied his years. His Nike Elite Youth basketball coach, former NBA all-star Jermaine O’Neal, said his footwork reminded him of Hakeem Olajuwon. Being an elite scorer was only part of the package.
He has a Texas tough swagger and loves to crash the offensive boards, finishing 2nd in that category on the team. He’s a solid passer, excellent in the high/low game with both Petrusev and Tillie. He also led the team in blocked shots by maintaining a good defensive position, moving his feet and remaining vertical. He has surprising good defensive footwork for a man his size and didn’t foul out of any games last season.
He also helped the team with his personality. A Feb 18 Spokesman-Review article credits his off-court friendliness for putting the shy incoming freshman at ease and helping solidify the team. He is also just as talkative on the court, trying to get into an opponent’s head through a combination of trash-talking or friendly banter. According to Timme, “I think the game is 90 percent mental. That’s something you can win by choice and something I feel I’m good at.”
I knew Timme was having a good freshman season, I just didn’t realize how good. The same article mentioned above favorably compares his performance last season with past Zag bigs. For the sake of brevity, I’ll just use the freshman stats from the two best freshman bigs from the past five years; Sabonis and Collins.
Spending the summer with his tutor father while consulting with his mentor O’Neil should result in him being an even stronger player next season. Hopefully he can improve upon his 61% from the line, a player as good as he is in the post will draw a lot of fouls. He also seemed hesitant to take mid-range jumpers. He’s an above average ball handler and demonstrating a jumper will open up lanes to the hoop.
With that said, the way he played in the WCC Tournament final he looked primed to have a big NCAA Tournament. Like Zach Collins accomplished before him, a big tourney could have raised his draft stock enough to make him Gonzaga’s second one and done player.
Like Filip Petrusev, sophomore Drew Timme has WCC Player of the Year and early NBA entry potential. Gonzaga will have the highest preseason ranking in the school history while fans will be eagerly awaiting the tricky trio while awaiting news on who, if anyone, leaves early. Whatever happens, count on being impressed by Drew Timme with he and those around him having a good time.