Gonzaga was one of the biggest movers between my Way-Too-Early rankings and my preseason rankings. They are coming off a 10th straight season winning 28 or more games. Drew Timme and his magical mustache is back. A lot of the rest of last year’s team is back too. Could this be the year that the Bulldogs finally get over the hump?
Preseason College Basketball Rankings: #2 Gonzaga Bulldogs
As I said, Drew Timme is back. We all know how great he is. The Wooden Award candidate is arguably the best player in the country, and his returning to school is massive. Julian Strawther returns too after making a massive stride as a sophomore. He went from not playing much as a freshman to averaging almost 12 points per game and over 5 rebounds per game and being a full-time starter last year. Supersenior Rasir Bolton is the third returning starter. In his first year in Spokane he was not as good as he had been at Iowa State, but still had a good year nonetheless. Key role player Anton Watson returns as well.
Hunter Sallis and Nolan Hickman were both highly touted recruits coming out of high school a year ago. Their development will be key to this team this year. Both came off the bench exclusively as freshman, and both will have much bigger roles as sophomores. Hickman is likely to move into the starting point guard role this season. If they can live up to their recruiting hype then this team can be something special.
Mark Few brings in two stellar transfers. One of them is the 2021-2022 SOCON Player of the Year Malachi Smith. He was great the last two year at Chattanooga. Smith led the SOCON in points and steals and was tied for fifth in total rebounds. He was high up in assists as well. Efton Reid III transfers in from LSU. He was a five-star recruit coming out of high school last year but was just average as a freshman.
PF – Drew Timme (18.4 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2.8 APG, 0.3 SPG, 0.8 BPG)
G/F – Julian Strawther (11.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.5 APG, 0.2 BPG)
SG – Malachi Smith (19.9 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.1 BPG)
G – Rasir Bolton (11.2 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 2.3 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.0 BPG)
PG – Nolan Hickman (5.1 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.2 BPG)