Family bonds are truly tight. After a one-season absence from Spokane, the Nembhard family will once again be represented at Gonzaga with Friday morning’s official announcement that Ryan Nembhard is making the move from Creighton. This move just feels so right.
Nembhard had a magnificent sophomore campaign for the Bluejays punctuated by an Elite 8 run. Gonzaga fans who watched Nembhard play in the Denver pod during the NCAA Tournament’s first two rounds were probably equally wistful of what was lost when his older brother Andrew graduated and impressed by Ryan’s own singular talent. After all, the younger Nembhard almost single-handedly wrecked Baylor in the second round of the Tournament to the tune of 30 points including 4-6 from the three point line.
The addition of Nembhard fortifies Gonzaga’s backcourt after Dominick Harris and Hunter Sallis hit the transfer portal themselves, and relieves Nolan Hickman of the pressure of being Gonzaga’s lone point guard. To his credit, Hickman welcomed the news on social media:
Nembhard averaged 4.8 apg last season and was ESPN’s No. 2 player available in the transfer portal. In a fortuitous development for Nembhard, he will get to play in the Maui Invitational for a second consecutive season. He’s definitely a smart guy. Per reports, Nembhard was deciding between Gonzaga and Tommy Lloyd’s crew at Arizona.
Gonzaga wasn’t done with just Nembhard though, as good news came in bunches this morning. Graham Ike merits his own article and by no means is intentionally being given second billing, but since he and Nembhard made their announcement within an hour of each other, they are sharing a story.
The 6’9” forward who played for Wyoming is also making the trek over to Spokane and is a big addition (literally and figuratively) in his own right.
Ike was the MWC-preseason player of the year headed into the 2022-23 season after averaging 19.5 ppg and 9.6 rpg as a sophomore for Wyoming during the 2021-22 campaign. However, he missed the entire season with an injury. The move gives Ike the opportunity for a fresh start in a program whose culture appealed to him in a big way. He is a significant addition to the frontcourt and his skillset is tailor made for Gonzaga basketball.
The additions of Nembhard and Ike come a week after Steele Venters, the Big Sky Player of the Year with Eastern Washington, committed to moving down the road to play at Gonzaga.
After a shaky start to the offseason, Mark Few and his staff proved once again that they have earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to ensuring that the Zags will be ready for another deep tournament run.
Massive morning for Gonzaga. Mark Few’s program lands the best guard in the portal in Ryan Nembhard and one of the best available bigs in Graham Ike. Already added Big Sky POY Steele Venters, bring back a couple guys. Zags have the making of a preseason top-10 team once again.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) April 21, 2023