Mark Few and the Gonzaga Bulldogs, despite being a small institution in a fake conference (according to keyboard warriors on Twitter) have the fifth most players on NBA rosters as the season gets underway this week.
The Zags currently have 11 former players on NBA rosters on the first day of the season, tied with Michigan and behind Kentucky (26) Duke (24) UCLA (15) and Kansas (12) – a true crop of blue blood programs in this sport.
Rounding out the Top 10 is Arkansas, Arizona, Villanova, and Texas who each have 10.
Gonzaga’s ability to produce NBA talent is unprecedented, and what makes them so unique is they are doing it in a variety of ways. They aren’t just recruiting five-star talent and sending them off to the league after just one year in Spokane, although that is part of it with Zach Collins, Jalen Suggs, and Chet Holmgren representing three of the 11 Zags in the Association.
However, they also produce NBA talent from non-five star high school recruits, like Corey Kispert and Julian Strawther, as well as international talent (Domantas Sabonis, Kelly Olynyk, Rui Hachimura, and Filip Petrusev) and transfers who blossom in Spokane and become NBA players, like Andrew Nembhard and Brandon Clarke.
All this to say: if you come to Gonzaga, no matter how you get here and where you come from, your chances of becoming an NBA player are excellent.
And it’s worth pointing out this list of Zags in the NBA isn’t just filled with bench warmers and two-way players. Sabonis is the only current All-Star, but outside of Petrusev and Strawther every one of these players is either an NBA starter or key rotation piece off the bench, with the exception of the injured Clarke.
Petrusev will likely be a fringe rotation player for the 76ers while Strawther picked up a DNP-CD in his first game with Denver, but both should find minutes as the year goes on.
This list of 11 could increase throughout the year as well, with Drew Timme likely suiting up in the G-League with a real chance of getting signed to a two-way or even 10-day contract and eventually making his NBA debut.
For recruits considering Gonzaga (cough, Zoom Diallo, cough) don’t let the conference schedule fool you: this program develops high-end talent as well as just about anyone in the country.
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.