Mark Few: Julian Strawther ‘will be so much better this year’

Gonzaga Bulldogs head coach Mark Few doesn’t spend a lot of time handing out quotes to reporters – especially not in the offseason.

But he made an exception by chatting with the great Dana O’Neil at The Athletic, and her piece is filled with excellent tidbits from Few about the upcoming 2022-23 season. (Subscription required but highly recommended).

Few talks about the additions of Efton Reid and Malachi Smith, how NIL played a part in Drew Timme’s decision to return to Spokane, and what he expects from the two sophomore guards Nolan Hickman and Hunter Sallis.

But the player he seems most excited about is Julian Strawther, who Few believes is poised to take a big jump heading into his junior year.

“Julian is primed for a big year,’’ Few told O’Neil. “He was pretty darn good last year, but I think he will be so much better this year.’’ 

Strawther appeared in 25 games as a freshman in 20-21, averaging 7.4 minutes per game in a limited role. He stepped into a starting spot immediately as a sophomore and saw his numbers climb significantly, averaging 11.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and one assist while shooting 36.5% from three on 148 attempts.

His performance on the court, as well as his size, rebounding ability, and outside shooting made him a very viable NBA draft candidate – but Strawther eventually decided to return to Gonzaga for at least another season.

Another leap forward for Julian likely involves more consistency on offense (he went through significant cold stretches last year, including during the NCAA Tournament) as well as improvements as a decision-maker (32:26 A:TO ratio) and on the defensive end of the floor, although he has shown a lot of promise on that end already.

There was little doubt that Strawther’s junior season could be his last in Spokane, but if he makes the improvements Few expects him to make he will be one of the team’s best players next season and could easily be in the conversation as a first round pick in 2023.

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