2019-20 College Basketball Season Previews: Gonzaga Bulldogs

GONZAGA BULLDOGS

Head Coach: Mark Few

2018-19 Record: 33-4, 16-0 Conference

Odds to win Title: +2000

Odds c/o Bovada

The Gonzaga Bulldogs made it to the Elite Eight last year before being knocked out by Texas Tech. That team returns almost no one, save for Corey Kispert, who averaged eight points and four rebounds per game last year as a sophomore. The team brings in nine newcomers after losing a trio of players to the draft and more to graduation.

The losses of Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke are huge. Both should have successful NBA careers. Left in their stead is Killian Tillie, who started in 2018 but was limited to just 15 games last year due to a foot injury. Tillie is a 6’10” forward capable of stretching the court; he shot 47 percent on threes over his career. He is just under 60 percent from inside the arc, and he is a very efficient scorer with great touch. Tillie could be an All-American this season with his increased role. He is joined by sophomore Filip Petrusev, who flirted with the pros but made the right decision to return to Gonzaga for more seasoning. He needs to improve his defense and rebounding to take the leap, but his scoring ability makes him an interesting NBA prospect. He will be pushed for PT by freshman Drew Timme. Timme is a great passer with good size, at 6’10” 235 pounds. Oumar Ballo adds yet more size at 6’10” 260 pounds, while Anton Watson is a super athlete and smart player who should play both the 3 and 4 spots.

The backcourt is reloaded not with recruits, but with graduate transfers. Ryan Woolridge comes from North Texas to start at the 1, while Admon Gilder will start alongside him as a combo guard to add some versatility both defensively and with the playing rotations. Woolridge is coming off surgery to repair a stress fracture in his patella, and Gilder suffered blood clots last year. Both should be ready, and they are experienced double-digit scorers who should add plenty of stability and experience to the backcourt.

Kispert comes back on the wing as a 6’6” swingman who hit 61 threes last year at a 37.4 percent clip. Joel Ayayi is entering his sophomore season after looking great for France in the U19 World Cup. Adding to the depth in the frontcourt is Brock Ravet and Martynas Arlauskas, and both of them should see some time. Ravet comes to Gonzaga as the all-time scorer in Washington prep history.

Gonzaga will take time to gel this season, but there is no shortage of talent really. Losing Hacimura and Clarke could be a death blow, but it likely will not be, not in the WCC where Gonzaga rarely loses. Health is probably the paramount issue for this year’s iteration of Bulldog basketball, and Mark Few is counting on several health risks to overcome issues that have hindered their careers. Gilder and Woolridge both have plenty of experience, and should be able to make Gonzaga better on both ends of the court.

Timme will likely be the first big man off the bench, while Anton Wilson’s ability to step out behind the arc is crucial, as well. Ballo’s size will make him a valuable commodity from Day One, and Ravet is a good shooter who hopefully can translate those skills to the collegiate level. Arlauskas may add some nice depth at the wing if he is ready early in the season. Whatsoever the case, expect Gonzaga to be back in the Big Dance because it will win its conference. Securing a No. 1 seed, however, this season is somewhat unlikely given the turnover on the roster. Even so, Gonzaga is in the mix of the NCAA 2020 title favorites.

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