Entering his fifth season at Gonzaga, forward Anton Watson is primed for the biggest year of his career in Spokane. Watson has steadily improved his points per game every year with the Zags, and took on a bigger role offensively last year as the team’s starting power forward.
Now, with Drew Timme and Julian Strawther out the door, Watson’s role should expand even more, and his ability to impact the game both offensively and defensively makes him one of the most valuable players in all of college basketball.
While that’s hardly a controversial statement, a metric from college basketball analyst Evan Miyakawa, who runs the fantastic evanmiya.com website, actually predicts Watson will be the third most impactful player in the entire NCAA this upcoming season – just behind Purdue’s Zach Edey and sophomore big man Donovan Clingan at UConn.
The Bayesian Performance Rating has always valued Watson favorably. BPR predicts performance offensively and defensively on a per-possession basis, and suggests Watson’s combination of offensive value (efficiency around the basket, low turnovers) as well as defensive value (high steal numbers, great pressure, solid rebounding) puts him in the upper echelon of valuable players in this upcoming season.
Value is of course an impossible metric to fully evaluate, as it comes from things that are not quantifiable in many respects, but anyone who has watched the Zags over the past half decade could tell you Watson’s impact on this team is often bigger than the box score would indicate, and this metric certainly showcases that.
In addition to Edey and Clingan, Gonzaga will also face Purdue guard Braden Smith (10) and USC freshman guard Isaiah Collier (19) this season, and could face a trio of Tennessee players in Zakai Zeigler (12) Santiago Vescovi (16) and Josiah-Jordan James (21) in the Maui Invitational.
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.