Martynas Arlauskas is an unsolvable conundrum for some—not specifically on the basketball court, per se, but within the minds of some fans in the Gonzaga community.
Arlauskas was a top-50 recruit, something to be said but something also to be questioned, especially considering international rankings tend to be absolutely all over the place. Case and point: Rui Hachimura, who every analyst said had clear NBA potential, was a three-star recruit. Domantas Sabonis was also a three-star recruit. Przemek Karnowski didn’t even have a ranking.
Because of that somewhat lofty pedigree, there are many in the community that cannot for the life of them comprehend why Arlauskas, a player who operates on a permanent bench role with the squad over the past three years, would not transfer. After all, the only thing that matters in college basketball is minutes. Minutes, minutes, minutes, and more minutes.
It has become the standard sort of ritual: End of the season, list out all the players someone is afraid will transfer. Arlauskas almost always shows up. And yet, after each season, we see him suiting up with a smile one his face, shooting half court three pointers with Drew Timme, and as much as member of the squad as the most celebrated starter.
Why? The answer is pretty simple. He just really likes it here.
Could Arlauskas play more minutes if he were not a Gonzaga Bulldogs. Sure. But clearly, for Arlauskas, what is most important is not averaging 30+ minutes per game but the friendships, mentorships, and community he has built along the way.
So far, through this seasons, that has been the story of Arlauskas. He is an important role on the bench, in that all bench roles are important. They help prepare the starting five in practice. He is an emotional and mental support throughout the games and the season.
Interestingly enough, with Arlauskas playing the long game, there is a scenario in which it works out in his favor, in terms of the rotation. As it stands now, the Zags are for sure losing Chet Holmgren and Andrew Nembhard to the NBA Draft. Both Drew Timme and Julian Strawther have entered their names while retaining eligibility. If Strawther were to depart, for example, a huge and glaring hole opens up at the wing.
Although we can expect the Zags to help fill the roster through the transfer portal in the coming months, due to the roster construction as it stands now, there is a good chance Arlauskas will see an uptick in his minutes next season. Probably not to the 20 per game mark, but more than the 3.6 he averaged this past season.
Either way, Arlauskas will get his senior season at college, something he has loved the entire time. Hopefully, we can finally put those transfer “rumors” to a rest.