Mark Few had to navigate a challenging start to the offseason for the Gonzaga Bulldogs. After losing earlier than expected to Arkansas in the NCAA Tournament, the Zags were set to lose somewhere between one and five starters from the roster, making it very difficult to project what type of players to pursue via the transfer portal.
Chet Holmgren was the obvious departure, and it soon became clear Andrew Nembhard would not be returning after he declared for the NBA draft for the third time, forgoing his collegiate eligibility.
The big hinge for the team was Drew Timme, and he waited until quite literally the final hour before announcing he was coming back for another go-round in Spokane.
Prior to that happening, the Zags had secured a commitment from LSU transfer big man Efton Reid. Gonzaga went after many high profile players via the portal, including Fardaws Aimaq and Johni Broome, who went to Texas Tech and Auburn, respectively.
Reid decided to join Gonzaga before knowing Timme’s plans, a tough sell as it dramatically impacts how much playing time he will receive in year one.
However, Gonzaga is still THE premier program for developing big men to work on their craft, and Reid could easily be next in a long line of successful development stories for seven footers in Spokane.
“Efton Reid came out of high school, he was hyped up,” John Fanta, a college basketball broadcaster for Fox Sports 1, said on the Locked on Zags podcast. “He was going to be a one-and-done player. Guess what, LSU wasn’t the place where that was going to come to fruition. But if you’re a post player, and you want to get better, there’s no better place to play in college basketball than Gonzaga.”
Aimaq and Broome (and Gonzaga’s other transfer targets) wanted guaranteed playing time at their next destination, but Reid is in a situation where he can hone his game under coach Few – and getting a chance to go up against Timme and Anton Watson every day in practice won’t hurt either.
“Who better to learn from than Timme,” Fanta continued. “They’ve got this pipeline and Gonzaga has used their post players in college basketball, if you look at usage rates, they’ve used their posts more than anyone else in the sport over the last five years. And that’s why Efton Reid is a Gonzaga Bulldog right now. Now if you’re Efton Reid you look at this situation as a prime learning opportunity but also maybe an opportunity to be the sixth man for this team, or be that guy who comes off the bench. I think Reid could give them something different, I like his athleticism I think they could get him to play a unique role on this team.”
Gonzaga’s track record with big men speaks for itself. While Reid won’t take a traditional sit out year the way many have before him, playing a smaller role in his first year before expanding in year two is a path followed by many of Gonzaga’s legends – including Domantas Sabonis, Filip Petrusev, Killian Tillie, and of course Timme himself.
Reid averaged 6.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks per game at LSU last year, starting all 34 games but playing just under 20 minutes per night. He is less of a back-to-the-basket scorer, but his athleticism allows him to play out wide away from the rim, and while the outside shot wasn’t there in year one (25% from three) there is reason to believe he can develop into a stretch big in time – especially in Spokane.
“Let’s face it, LSU was not going to get what Gonzaga can get out of a post player,” Fanta stated. “I’m interested to see what Efton Reid brings to the table this season because I think he’s only scratched the surface in college basketball.”
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.