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What Does Ryan Nembhard Bring to the Table?

The former Creighton star guard gives a major boost to the Zags.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament South Regional-Creighton vs San Diego State Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Few just can’t get enough of the Nembhard family. Just like Andrew was back in 2020, Ryan Nembhard was one of the biggest names in the transfer portal and chose to go down the path that led to Spokane.

“My brother had been telling me for years what a great coach Mark Few was,” Nembhard told ESPN about his commitment. “And it’s obvious Andrew was well prepared for the NBA by Coach Few and all the staff at Gonzaga the two years he was there. He started more games this year as a rookie than any other Pacers rookie has started in over 20 years.”

During his two years under Greg McDermott at Creighton, Nembhard averaged 11.8 PPG, 4.6 APG, and 3.6 RPG in 64 starts for the Bluejays. He also led his team to an Elite Eight appearance this past March.

With this major commitment, Gonzaga receives a lead guard with playmaking skills. This a spot where the play was inconsistent with Nolan Hickman throughout last season. It will be interesting to see how the two mesh with each other on next year’s squad.

Does Mark Few want two point guards in the starting lineup? Might be a good decision to have two ball-handlers and playmakers out on the floor at the same time. That will relieve some of the pressure off of Hickman to focus on trying to play off the ball more.

Nembhard, a former five-star recruit, excels in the PnR and has made strides as a deep shooting threat over the years. He went from 31.1 3P% in his freshman campaign to 35.6 3P% in his sophomore campaign.

With Drew Timme gone, Nembhard looks to be the guy to make the offense go with his own ability to drive to the hoop and get others involved. The big difference between the two will be the speed. Nembhard can bring a quick pace, an up-and-down tempo. This is something that Gonzaga missed out on in 2022-2023 but won’t in 2023-2024.

Gonzaga could be losing their top four scorers from last season (depending on if Anton Watson returns or not) so the offensive presence of Nembhard will be extremely vital to next season’s group.

Nembhard says his goals at Gonzaga are to “get better every day and win a lot of games.” One other goal of his is to improve on the defensive end of the floor. That is a part of the game that he’s missing the most at the moment.

“I’m going to challenge myself to be an elite defender. I’m inspired by players like Jose Alvarado and Chris Paul. I can’t wait to show that side of my game. Then, I want to help quarterback our talented squad to an amazing season. Shoot well, manage the game, high assists and low turnovers. I know what Andrew did at Gonzaga to help his team win nearly every game he played as a Zag. And I see how that translates to the NBA. I plan on doing the same thing in Spokane, only a little better.”

If he is any bit better than his brother was, Gonzaga fans are in for quite the show.

Arden Cravalho is a Gonzaga University graduate from the Bay Area... Follow him on Twitter @a_cravalho