The Gonzaga Bulldogs added a necessary piece to the roster with the news that Iowa State point guard Rasir Bolton had transferred to the Zags. Unfortunately, much of the knowledge of what Bolton brings to the table was relegated to the stat sheets. Considering the dismal record of the Cyclones the past couple of years, it is understandable many of us in Gonzaga-land have not seen Bolton play very much.
SSF: How would you sum up Bolton’s career at Iowa State?
LS: Bolton’s career at Iowa State is, sadly, largely a story of wasted and misused talent. He averaged about 15 points per game and was the team’s primary scorer for the past season and a half following Tyrese Halliburton’s season-ending injury halfway through the 2019-2020 campaign. He nearly always functioned as the primary ball handler in Steve Prohm’s offense, though many believe he was improperly utilized.
SSF: What do you see as his strengths as a player?
LS: Easily his greatest strength is attacking the rim. He’s lightning quick off the bounce and is generally excellent around the rim. He’s been known throw down a couple thunderous dunks in transition as well.
SSF: What are some of his weaknesses?
LS: This may seem overly harsh, but Bolton has a couple key flaws that make his fit in offenses more complicated. First off, he’s prone to playing too fast and can be a turnover machine at times. His career 1.1:1 A/TO ratio is a good example of that. He only averaged four assists per game as a point guard, which can partially be blamed on the team’s lack of shooting, but is more the fault of a player that simply has his eye on scoring whenever he gets the ball. He also really struggles as the ball handler in pick and roll situations.
His outside shooting is also streaky, but generally average or worse. At Iowa State he probably didn’t get as many good open looks from three as he probably needed, so a simple schematic change and switching to playing off ball could fix a lot of that. However, his slow and somewhat awkward jump shot probably keeps the ceiling on his outside shooting fairly low.
On the defensive end, he’s just an average defender. He’ll pick off a pass or two here or there, but is otherwise unremarkable on that end of the floor.
SSF: Considering Gonzaga’s high-tempo offensive style, how do you see Bolton fitting in?
LS: Despite my criticism of Bolton’s game, I think he could be a great fit in Gonzaga’s offense. Bolton’s an incredible athlete and a blur in transition. I’d you can get him the ball on the fast break, you’re looking at a really nice spark plug off the bench.
SSF: How should Gonzaga fans feel about this pickup?
Gonzaga fans should generally be happy with this acquisition. With Gonzaga’s stable of talent, he shouldn’t need to be charged with duties as either the lead ball handler or the primary scorer, but he can be an extremely effective scoring option off the bench.