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A Growing Year for Martynas Arlauskas

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The Lithuanian winger saw minimal minutes this season.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 09 Gonzaga at San Diego Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Coming into the season, Lithuanian winger Martynas Arlauskas was not expected to receive too many minutes, and that became clear rather quickly throughout the season as the rotation tightened down to an essentially seven-man squad.

So there isn’t much of a point on dwelling on the stats for Arlauskas right here. He averaged 5.2 minutes per game, garnering a majority of his minutes during garbage time. If Arlauskas saw time in the first 30 minutes of the game, it was usually due to foul trouble, and he often deferred to be the fifth option on offense.

Arlauskas came into Gonzaga as a talented winger, with a big enough body and enough speed to cover multiple positions if required. Going into next season, there is a question about where the minutes for Arlauskas will come from. Presuming the return of Filip Petrusev, the arrival of Jalen Suggs, and a healthy Anton Watson, the Zags are going to be an absurdly stacked team.

Arlauskas might be looking at the same situation as Joel Ayayi did in the 2018-19 season—still a little green behind the ears and facing too many players in front of him to crack the rotation.

With the arrival of graduate transfer Aaron Cook and recruits Suggs, Dominick Harris, and Julian Strawther, combined with Joel Ayayi and Corey Kispert, those are a lot of players trying to compete for a limited amount of minutes.

Last season, Kispert led the squad in percentage of minutes played, and there is nothing to suggest the situation will be any different this upcoming season. In the limited time that Kispert hit the bench, generally speaking, it was Ayayi who filled the backup.

In a way, Arlauskas might not be looking towards that many minutes next season. The Zags incoming class, combined with the returning players, is a loaded lineup. If Petrusev decides to head to the NBA, that might free up a bit of minutes, but otherwise, it is hard to imagine a scenario in which the Lithuanian winger is able to secure a consistent place on the rotation.

This situation in itself is sort of the Gonzaga way. This coaching staff has a laundry list of examples of how to properly develop players, even if it takes years to do so.