The point guard at the controls of Mark Few’s offense carries a lot of responsibility. This has been true for the last two decades, and will continue to be true for years to come. The demands of the job require incredibly high basketball IQ, an aggressive mentality, and the versatility to be both distributor and go-to scorer.
In that context, Andrew Nembhard and Gonzaga were a match made in heaven. It’s no wonder why Few and his staff aggressively recruited Nembhard twice—missing out on him in high school before finally convincing him to come to Spokane when he decided to leave the University of Florida after two seasons.
Nembhard showcased his class numerous times throughout the last two seasons, pairing up well with Jalen Suggs last year before assuming complete control of the offense this season.
His performances against UCLA, BYU, Portland, at Pepperdine, Saint Mary’s in the WCC Tournament, and Memphis demonstrated his class and underscored his legitimate claim as the best point guard in college basketball and an exemplar of how to play the position at the highest level. At his best, Nembhard is one of the most enjoyable athletes to watch play the point guard position. His highlights are the teaching tape for the position (I wouldn’t be surprised if the Gonzaga teaching staff uses his film as the visual textbook for future point guards who come through the program).
But Nembhard had some inexplicable lows as well, and it’s no surprise that each of Gonzaga’s four losses coincided with a tough night at the office for the Ontario native. In those losses, Nembhard’s KenPom offensive rating was 52, 78, 63, and 80 with averages of 8 ppg, 4.5 apg, and 4 topg.
For as good as Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren are, it always felt as if Gonzaga was always going to go as far as Nembhard could take it. It’s unfortunate and unfair that the final memory of Gonzaga’s 2021-2022 season is Nembhard’s worst outing of his Gonzaga career if you’re going by KenPom’s offensive ratings. But, after time and perspective provide some separation from that game, I hope the Nembhard that Gonzaga fans remember is the maestro who looked born to play the position for this program.
Of course, Nembhard could use his bonus year of eligibility to return for one more run. While he hasn’t announced his plans one way or another, my feeling is that Nembhard is ready to take the next step after a full four year career at the collegiate level. No matter what he decides, it was an absolute pleasure to watch Nembhard play for Gonzaga for the last two years.