Two words. 10 characters. That’s all it took to send Gonzaga Bullogs and college basketball fans into a frenzy late in the evening on May 31, when Drew Timme simply tweeted “I’m back” to announce his return to Spokane for at least one more season and another opportunity to contend for a national championship.
Timme has spoken a few times in the public eye since making his brief announcement, discussing his thought process and why he ultimately chose to return to Gonzaga.
Recently, he spoke with college basketball reporter Andy Katz about what he wants to improve upon entering his senior season, not just for his own NBA draft stock but for the team as well.
“Always trying to get better on defense, that’s something I’ve been working on a lot,” Timme said. “I’d say that’s the biggest thing for the (draft) stock, for GU, for everything. That’s kind of the core component. I also need to shoot better, I’ve been working on that a lot. I’d say those are the two main things but also continuing to grow and develop my leadership”.
Timme has always been a decent low post defensive player, but was exposed away from the rim in the 2021 National Championship game against Baylor. While last year’s defensive issues were largely masked by the presence of Chet Holmgren, that won’t be in the cards for Gonzaga in 2022-23, putting more pressure on Timme to step into a rim protector role while also improving his pick and roll defense away from the basket.
Katz asked Timme about this team’s rim protection, and Timme gave a characteristically humorous response:
“I’m going to be a shot blocker,” Timme chuckled. “I’m going for Chet’s single season record.”
Timme has blocked 79 shots in his first three seasons at Gonzaga, with a career-high 31 coming as a true freshman in the 2019-20 season.
Holmgren blocked 117 shots on his own last season, a ridiculous total that may not get touched for quite a while – even if Timme does show significant improvement on the defensive end of the floor.
Timme also had high praise for incoming sophomore guards Hunter Sallis and Nolan Hickman, who he feels are ready to make the jump after waiting in the wings behind Andrew Nembhard last season.
“You got guys like Nolan and Hunter who have been in the program, waited their turn a little bit,” Timme continued. “But they are really coming on and looking really good.”
Replacing Holmgren and Andrew Nembhard is no easy task, but the Zags did well to replenish the roster with transfer additions Malachi Smith and Efton Reid, and returning Timme, Julian Strawther, and Rasir Bolton should keep this team in title contention throughout the 22-23 season.
Andy hosts the Locked on Zags and Locked on College Basketball podcasts, and serves Locked On in a marketing/digital content creator role as well. He lives just outside Portland with his wife Jenna and dog, Tillie.