Julian Strawther entered the Gonzaga Bulldogs program with a lot of hype and pretty much zero expectations at the same time.
As one-third of the “Tricky Trio,” Strawther’s natural position was blocked by the one and only Corey Kispert. Although he would garner a few freshman minutes here and there, considering the makeup of the lineup last season, it would’ve taken something tragic, such as an injury, for Strawther to make garner large minutes.
So for one year, Strawther was an understudy, and like all understudies at Gonzaga, he got better and better. Coming into this season, on a team featuring the preseason player of the year in Drew Timme, the No. 1-rated Class of 2021 recruit in Chet Holmgren, a senior playmaker in Andrew Nembhard, among others, most everyone expected a bigger role for Strawther.
If we want to talk about some of the all-time great leaps in Gonzaga Bulldogs history, in the vein of Kelly Olynyk, Rui Hachimura, Corey Kispert, and all the others, we very well might be including Julian Strawther’s sophomore campaign in the mix.
Through eight games, Strawther is averaging 27.3 minutes (2nd on team), 14 points (second on team), 7.0 rebounds (tied for first), all the while shooting 61.1 percent from two and 42.5 percent from three (second on team). His ORtg of 132.5 is the highest on the team amongst the starters.
Strawther made an immediate statement in the season opener against Dixie State, scoring 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He was a bit more muted against in the monster Texas win, and put up some quality numbers against the likes of Alcorn State, Bellarmine, and Central Michigan.
Then came Duke, and Strawther showed up, and then some. The loss could’ve been worse if not for the patented Strawther-branded microwave. He finished the game with 20 points (one shy of Paolo Banchero for a game-high), 10 rebounds (game-high) in 36 minutes. Most importantly, in a game that the Zags struggled to shoot from the outside, Strawther hit big shots from deep.
The energy Strawther brings to the floor is a bolt of energy that makes opponents miserable, and that is largely due to the size and talents of the young winger. At 6’7, Strawther is long enough to hold his own guarding the post and causing overall havoc on the glass. He is also quick enough to stretch the floor and drive to the hoop or pull up from three.
His length, in particular, has allowed him to develop into a stellar offensive rebounder. Strawther leads the team with 19 offensive rebounds and his OR% of 11.6 puts him near the top-150 in all of college.
It's pretty clear what there is to like about Julian Strawther with plays like this and then him shooting 47% from three on 5 attempts per game. He's made a massive leap for Gonzaga pic.twitter.com/avQSapoUaV— Wilko (@wilkomcv) November 29, 2021
All of this is a major win-win for Gonzaga. Pretty much everyone assumed that Strawther would be making some significant strides this year, but to start the season, he has probably surpassed the expectations of many. In the process, he has become the next in a long line of dudes for Gonzaga.