A lot is hanging on Anton Watson and Malachi Smith for two of the last three scholarship spots. I’m as lost as you are as to what’s going to happen with them. This is just where my mind is at to fill out the roster if both decide to return, only just one, or neither.
The backcourt is filled right now with Hickman, Nembhard, and Stromer. Taran Armstrong of Cal Baptist was too late to the party. It’s all about the big man and wing position right now. If Gonzaga wants to try to fill the huge space that Drew Timme filled, it has to come in size from the 3 or 5 spots.
Here are three guys in the transfer portal I would like to be wearing a Gonzaga jersey by May or June.
Connor Vanover, Oral Roberts
12.7 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 51.7 FG%
The center position is really up in the air with Anton Watson’s looming decision to stay or not. Connor could be a strong replacement if Anton does decide to go the professional route.
Vanover has been all over the map with Cal, Arkansas, and Oral Roberts. At all locations, he has shown off his elite rim protection at 7’ 5”. I know, that’s insane. He was 2nd in the nation with 3.2 BPG. What’s even crazier is his ability to stretch out the floor at that massive height. Connor shot 32.4 3P% with the Golden Eagles last season.
Grant Nelson, North Dakota State
17.9 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.7 BPG
He is known as a unicorn in the college basketball scene and Gonzaga knows all about unicorns (S/O Chet Holmgren). Grant Nelson, I would think, take over the small forward position that Julian Strawther held down strongly last season. The former Bison brings better size and mobility out on the wing at 6’ 11”. He shot a whooping 52.1 FG%.
Nelson plays both ends of the floor at a high level. He’s a monster on the glass and was one of the top rim protectors in the country. Grant loves to play in transition and lead the break. He can act as both a play-making 3 and can also see minutes at the 5. Very versatile based on his athleticism at his size.
He shot 60 2P% and 71.4 FT%. Great percentages from inside the arc but he did shoot 27.2 3P%. Nelson will be attending the NBA Draft Combine and if he were to return to college, the deep shot is something he will need to improve.
Gonzaga has already reached out so Grant is aware that the Zags have him on their radar.
Arthur Kaluma, Creighton
11.8 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.6 APG, 42.3 FG%, 31.1 3P%
Arthur already has a connection with Ryan Nembhard, why shouldn’t he come to Gonzaga with him?
At 6’ 7”, Kaluma possesses great size and loves to attack the rim. He is a quality defender with loads of high-level experience from his two years with the Bluejays.
Similar to Nelson, Kaluma only shot a career 29.1 3P% and will need to work on that part of his game. Kaluma’s main focus is the NBA Draft Combine and he will not make a college decision anytime soon, according to 247Sports.
Arden Cravalho is a Gonzaga University graduate from the Bay Area... Follow him on Twitter @a_cravalho