Some patience before fans & pundits forecast Dog Days for Gonzaga 2018.
Go back to this time last season: 6'10" red shirt senior NBA-quality shooter Wiltjer (It’s a paucity in the vitamin D of his game holding him back from a regular spot on the Rockets.) was done, as was double red shirt senior G McLellan & senior Glue Guy DranGinis (now tearing it up the Danish pro league). But what then-sophomore Sabonis might do was much in the air (I’m guessing, but IMO what clinched it was one or more NBA franchises with a lottery pick letting on he’d be one, IOW: set-for-life money). Still, it was NOT a sure thing Sabonis would leave early, and may well have come down to the coincidence of the pending 2016 NBA draft being expected to be somewhere between Weak and Weakest Evuh.
And if Sabonis had stayed, given J3 was already at GU, Collins was already committed to GU for months, and considering the miracle of Karnowski’s recovery, just reconsider last night’s championship game.
Collins spent the season as back-up to Karnowski, never starting once; didn’t average even 20 mpg; has yet to mature — bulk up — to where he’ll need to be to survive let alone thrive in the NBA; is still a WIP on body control issues, thus his season-long proclivity for cheap fouls; & came THAT CLOSE to an NCCA title. I don’t see it as obvious he’ll go 1-&-done.
NW-G is as smart as any player Few’s ever coached (Few refers to him as “the 51st POTUS”.). He’s already earned an undergrad degree, just won All-Academic as a grad student, & is amidst his degree — not yet done, and PhD worthy (Think Bill Bradley.). NW-G more than anyone will recognize this pending NBA draft is stoopid deep in lottery quality guards (Fultz, Ball, Thornwell, Fox, BIFM, Evans, Monk, Brooks, Hart, Perrantes, before we even get to Bluiett, Kennard, etc). If NW-G is looking to max his Return On Draft, this year presents the OPPOSITE situation to what Sabonis faced.
Plus NW-G & Collins are roomies: if Collins & NW-G were to compact to stay, they’d not only be leading the Zags to an even more credible run at the title, they’d each play out all next season as top candidates for CBB PotY (See Josh Jackson & BIFM.)
The Zags lose one Baltics giant in Karnowski, but gain another in red shirt freshman Jacob Larson, who’s added 2" & 35 pds in muscle during his red shirt year, said to combine Sabonis grace with Karno power. Add a returning J3 to start beside Collins, a returning Tillie beside Larson in the bigs rotation, that would be the best front court in all of CBB, 5 Star Mcdonald’s AA incoming elsewhere be damned.
The Zags lose a terrific 6'3–4" senior shooting guard in Mathews. But they gain a 6'5" damn shooting sensation in red shirt freshman Zach Norvell. Zags fans got a glimpse at Norvell in pre-season work-outs and scrimmages: he exudes Air (J).
And that’s not all U get! In addition, Zags get the return of the sensationally gifted physical specimen that is soon sophomore 6'8" Rui Hachimura, plus incoming from Seattle is freshman 6'8" Dougie-McDermid-clone Cory Kispert. Among Norvel, Hachimura and Kispert, the Zags thereby provide a superb comeback to guru Seth Greenberg’s Sole Criticism of the 2016-17 edition of Gonzaga: the absence of a big scoring winger in the Jackson/Jackson /Thornwell/Buiett mold.
Sit tight, doubters: we’ll all know with mere weeks.