This past basketball season was a tough one, which all Gonzaga basketball fans can attest to. The Zags lost Elias Harris, Mike Hart and Kelly Olynyk, had multiple injuries, and a weak non-conference schedule. Gonzaga did make it to the tournament, and did win one more game than most sports analysts thought they would, but it wasn’t their greatest year. Next year has the possibility of being the Bulldogs’ time to shine, and here is why:
Josh Perkins: Aurora, Colorado, 6-3, guard
Perkins has a lot to offer the Zags. While playing in Colorado for his first three years of high school, Perkins averaged 25.2 points and 6.5 assists per game, which placed him in the top three players in the state of Colorado. For his senior year, Perkins transferred to an elite basketball school in West Virginia to polish off his skills and to prepare to be a Zag. Here, he played against players who were more at his level, but he still managed to score on average 10 points per game and 4-5 assists per game.
Perkins is known for his strong passing skills, which means he’s not at risk for turnovers. Perkins is an incredibly strong shooter and he’s also quick. We can expect him to be very similar to Kevin Pangos.
Bryan Alberts: Sun Valley, California, 6-3, guard
Alberts was offered scholarships to many schools including Wisconsin, Washington, Arizona State, and others, but only really showed interest in Gonzaga. Alberts is a strong outside shooter, and a good defensive player, but doesn’t have many stats from his senior year, because he was injured for the majority of the season.
Alberts has the potential to be a great player like Kyle Dranginis, but his past injuries may have him redshirting his first year to rest up. If he redshirts, he will be a great addition to the 2015-2016 Zags basketball team.
Silas Melson: Portland, Oregon, 6-3, guard
Melson, a Portland, Oregon native was named the Top Player in Oregon during his senior season is ready to play hard for the Zags. At 6-foot-3, averaging around 25-30 points per game and establishing a name as an incredibly strong ball handler, Melson is just what the Zags need for their lineup.
One thing that he has that most players don’t is the endurance to play an entire game as if he had just checked in. Gonzaga hasn’t had a player who can accomplish that in awhile, and it might be just what the Zags need. Melson has the potential to take the top starting spots of either Bell or fellow freshman Josh Perkins.
Domantas Sabonis, Lithuania, 6-11, center
Domantas Sabonis is the only player not coming from the United States. Sabonis is currently playing for a professional team in Spain at the age of 17. (He hasn’t accepted any money, so he is still eligible to play for a NCAA college team) Sabonis is the son of former Portland Trailblazers NBA player Arvydas Romas Sabonis.
Standing at 6-foot-11 and only 215 pounds, Sabonis has the potential to be Gonzaga’s reincarnate Kelly Olynyk. He has had experience on multiple professional teams across Europe and averages 14 points per game and 11.4 rebounds per game. He has signed a letter of intent with Gonzaga and will be a strong addition to the Gonzaga squad.
Kyle Wiltjer, UK transfer, 6-10, forward
We’ve all seen him and stalked him on twitter already, but this guy has the potential to fill Sam Dower’s big shoes. Wiltjer, the 6-foot-10 Oregon native, transferred to Gonzaga after having been on the National Champion team at the University of Kentucky. Wiltjer played around 20 minutes per game at Kentucky, and averaged 10 points per game. He’s a well-rounded player who knows how to win. Wiltjer will be starting next year, and will hopefully take the Zags to their first National Championship.
With all of the incoming talent that is mentioned above, it is easy to see that Gonzaga could be ranked one once again. Let’s Go Zags!