2023 5-star combo guard Wesley Yates (Beaumont, TX) will be announcing his college decision on Thursday, October 5 at 9:30 AM PT.
Yates announced a top nine back in mid-August which included Gonzaga along with Stanford, Washington, Texas, Houston, Arkansas, LSU, Auburn, and Baylor.
Yates has taken visits to the majority of those schools, although he never made it to Spokane before revealing his intention to announce a decision. It doesn’t take a mind-reader to assume this takes Gonzaga out of the running for Yates’ services, although it won’t be official until he makes his announcement.
Most believe he is staying in the state of Texas, although that still leaves three schools (Baylor, Houston, and Texas) in the running. LSU and Auburn are logical fits for Yates as well.
Yates blew up at Peach Jam, with Sports Illustrated’s Jason Jordan calling him one of the five best players at the tournament this summer.
“He’s very versatile, he picks his spots. He would never force anything, he would definitely take his time. He was very methodical, ran off screens really well, knocked down shots, got to the basket…he’s super strong, super athletic, knows how to shield his body, get that defender on his hip. Super efficient as a finisher. Very tactical with his approach, a guy I was very very much impressed with.”Jason Jordan – Locked on Zags podcast
The Zags currently have just one player, Dusty Stromer, committed for the class of 2023. Another target, center Jacob McFarland, recently committed to Houston, although forward Kaden Cooper remains a high level target for Mark Few and his staff.
Former Gonzaga big man Filip Petrusev will spend the upcoming season in his home country of Serbia after signing with EuroLeague squad Crvena Zvezda, with support from the Philadelphia 76ers who own his rights and are stashing him overseas for a second consecutive season.
“They supported it,” Petrusev said of the 76ers. “The EuroLeague is the highest level of competition in Europe and that’s where I’ll definitely develop the most.”
Petrusev’s pro career took a rough turn this past year. After a dominant season with Mega Bemax in the Adriatic League, where he took home MVP honors after averaging 23.6 points and 7.6 rebounds, Petrusev was the 50th overall selection in the 2021 NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Philadelphia opted to stash Petrusev overseas rather than giving him a roster spot as a rookie, and he signed on with Anadolu Efes in Turkey. However, he ended up playing just under 10 minutes per game, averaging 5.2 points and 1.6 rebounds and getting benched for the playoffs and Final Four.
“I didn’t get the opportunity I thought I would get, although I showed in some games that I can play at that level,” Petrusev said. “Now I came here to show that I can do it consistently and help the team. I look forward to every game, especially in the EuroLeague. I haven’t played in a few months, so I will look forward to every game and every game will mean something to me.”
Petrusev may not have had the season he thought he would with Efes, but he did get a chance to compete with the Serbian national team over the summer – although he was one of the final cuts before the 2022 EuroBasket tournament.
Still, Petrusev enjoyed the experience mostly for the opportunity to practice and play alongside NBA MVP Nikola Jokic, which he called “the only positive thing that I would single out from that participation on the national team.”
“Until you see it, feel it on the field or play against him, you don’t have a true picture of how much quality and talent he has and what you can learn from it.”
Petrusev’s NBA career hasn’t gotten off the ground just yet, but a strong season with Crvena Zvezda could help the big man realize his dream of playing at the highest level before the year is up.
Brad Millard, the larger than life center for the Saint Mary’s Gaels from 1995-2000, passed away after suffering with chronic pain and infections in his foot, according to a social media post by his sister on Saturday.
“For the last 20 years my brother has struggled with pain and chronic illness caused by complications from repeated foot injuries, open wounds, infection and blood disorders,” Sarah Gould-Millard, sister to Brad, said on Facebook. “You also may not know is that he had a heart of gold and he was a fighter! Though he didn’t have much, he would give the shirt off his back to help others.”
“His fight was tremendous but in the end his body finally had enough and the infection won. Our hearts are broken.”
Millard was one of Saint Mary’s first real icons on the basketball court. Nicknamed “Big Continent” thanks to his 7’3, 345 pound frame, Millard broke out in a major way during the 1996-97 season. He started 30 games for the Gaels, garnering First Team All-WCC honors after averaging 12.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
He finished the season winning the WCC Tournament MVP Award while leading Saint Mary’s to their first tournament title. The Gaels eventually took on Tim Duncan and the Wake Forest Deamon Deacons in the NCAA Tournament, and Millard received a lot of praise after posting 16 points, six boards, and two blocks in the loss.
“He’s a lottery pick,” Wake Forest head coach Dave Odom said after the game. “Get him out of here. I’d say he surprised me how good he is. We had to get a feel for him, because he doesn’t have the history. He is very, very, very good.”
Unfortunately, injuries derailed Millard’s career from that point forward, and the dreams of being a lottery pick, or even an NBA player, went out the door as he appeared in just five games over the next two seasons.
He returned as a fifth year senior and appeared in 11 games, blocking nine shots in a 1999 game against Colorado.
Millard was one of the WCC’s most promising prospects of the 1990’s, and while it would be a while until SMC was back on the map – thanks to Randy Bennett and his Australian pipeline – gratitude is owed to “Big Continent” for his performance in 96-97.
Thoughts are with his family, loved ones, and the Saint Mary’s community at this time.
Less than two weeks after he was signed to an Exhibit 10 contract, former Gonzaga guard Joel Ayayi was waived by the Orlando Magic – according to Orlando Sentinel beat writer Khobi Price.
Ayayi was one of 20 players on Orlando’s roster heading into training camp, but the team opted to sign Aleem Ford and Zavier Simpson, cutting Ayayi to clear space on the roster with roughly one month until the NBA season begins.
Ayayi has had quite the nomadic year. He was on a two-way contract with the Wizards last season, appearing in seven NBA games and 31 games with Washington’s G-League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go’s, where he averaged 10.7 points, 6.6 assists and 5.7 rebounds while logging 30.9 minutes per game.
He was released from that contract in March and caught on with the Atlanta Hawks during summer league, posting solid but unspectacular numbers. Eventually his returning player rights were traded to the Lakeland Magic, the G-League affiliate in Orlando, and shortly after that he was signed to his Exhibit 10 contract.
Now, Ayayi will likely end up reporting to Lakeland and participating in the G-League, hoping his performance at that level will do enough to earn a spot on an NBA roster at some point during the season.
The 2022-23 college basketball season is a little over one month away, and it’s hard to remember a recent season with as much returning firepower as this one.
Drew Timme, Oscar Tshiebwe, Armando Bacot, Hunter Dicksinson, and Trayce Jackson-Davis all have legitimate cases for National Player of the Year, and in decades past it’s hard to imagine all these players would still be playing college hoops.
The addition of NIL allows players to profit while in college, and the modern NBA values big men who can stretch the floor, while college’s floor dimensions and longer shot clock allow more room for operating down low – hence why the NCAA’s best returners are almost all 6’10 or taller.
It seems likely one of said big men (or Houston’s Marcus Sasser) will take home the NCAA’s coveted National Player of the Year award, and while many are picking Tshiebwe to repeat as NPOY – ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla is going with Timme.
It’s far from bold to pick Timme, a two-time All-American on likely the No. 1 ranked team in the country, as National Player of the Year, but Fraschilla believes Timme is so talented that he is actually being overlooked as he enters his fourth season in Spokane.
Timme averaged 18.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.8 assists as a junior last season. His 60.9% field goal rate on two pointers was actually the lowest of his career, but he was more impactful as a passer and improved as a defensive player by most advanced metrics, although the presence of Chet Holmgren certainly had an impact there.
Timme and Tshiebwe will be the two primary contenders for this award when the season tips off, and fans won’t have to wait long to see them battle it out as Gonzaga and Kentucky are set to square off on November 20 at the Spokane Arena.
It is less than one month before the start of the 2022-23 NBA season and former Gonzaga Bulldogs big man Kelly Olynyk is on the move. Olynyk was traded by the Detroit Pistons, along with Saben Lee, to the rebuilding Utah Jazz for Bojan Bogdanovic.
The Pistons are trying to complete a core centered around their two young guards, Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey, and adding Bogdanovic gives them another proven shooter and scorer to help space the floor.
Meanwhile, the Jazz are in full on rebuilding mode. The move to acquire Olynyk was more about clearing salary, although he should earn significant playing time in Salt Lake City after the team traded Rudy Gobert for a mountain of draft picks.
In fact, the updated depth chart at ESPN has Olynyk starting at center for Utah ahead of rookie Walker Kessler and veteran Cody Zeller. Lauri Markkanen is expected to start at the four, and Jarred Vanderbilt, Udoka Azubuike, and Rudy Gay round out the big man rotation.
Olynyk has been remarkably consistent in his NBA career, which now spans over a decade. He’s averaged roughly 10 points and five rebounds nearly every season he has been in the Association, with a 27-game explosion while with the Houston Rockets – where he averaged 19 and 8.4 in 2020-21 – the only real exception.
This will be Olynyk’s first full season in the Western Conference, with the rest of his career taking place in Boston and Miami prior to the brief stint in Houston and last year’s injury-riddled season in the Motor City, where he averaged 9.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in 40 games.
The 2022-23 NBA season is less than one month away, and double-digit Gonzaga Bulldogs will be in participation as Mark Few’s program continues to be among the best at producing professional talent.
The folks over at BetOnline, in conjunction with the Locked on Podcast Network, began a series ranking the 50 most valuable players in the league, based on how their absence moves their team’s betting lines.
From BetOnline: “The NBA Top 50 list from BetOnline is based on how these players affect their team’s spread and odds in a game if they were out. (Based on neutral court, not assuming who their backup is at the time, and a fully healthy team otherwise)”
Former Gonzaga forward Domantas Sabonis came in at No. 41 overall, one spot ahead of Jamal Murray and ahead of other NBA stars like Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Scottie Barnes.
Sabonis is about to enter his seventh NBA season and first as a full-time member of the Sacramento Kings after getting traded from Indiana at midseason in a deal for Tyrese Haliburton – who was No. 50 on BetOnline’s list.
Sabonis started 15 games for the Kings down the stretch, averaging 18.9 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 5.8 assists while shooting 58.4% on two pointers and 74.3% from the charity stripe, on roughly five attempts per game.
The two-time All-Star will be a big part of Sacramento’s future plans, and alongside De’Aaron Fox and rookie forward Keegan Murray, this could be a team to watch in the Western Conference.
We are now less than two months away from the start of the 2022-23 college basketball season, and the Gonzaga Bulldogs reportedly have another addition to the non-conference schedule.
According to independent college basketball reporter Rocco Miller, the Zags are adding Chicago State to their non-conference slate.
While it has not been confirmed, as of this writing, a report from Theo Lawson of the Spokesman-Review indicated this game may take place on March 1 between the end of the WCC regular season and the start of the WCC Tournament – while also serving as Gonzaga’s senior night.
Chicago State previously competed in the WAC alongside New Mexico State, SeattleU, Abilene Christian, Cal Baptist, and others, but they are now the only independent college basketball school at the D1 level.
The Cougars have been one of the worst performing college basketball programs of the past decade, and budget concerns have kept them teetering on the edge of losing their programs altogether, or at least moving down from the D-1 level.
Instead they’ll stick it out this year as an independent after going 7-25 last year and finishing 340th in KenPom.
While many Gonzaga fans will shake their head at a team like this getting added to the slate, it’s worth pointing out that the Zags not only have a ridiculously loaded non-conference schedule at the top – including Baylor, Kentucky, Texas, Alabama, Michigan State, and the PK85 – but mid-tier games against programs like UW, Kent State, and Northern Illinois are better than many of the opponents we have seen Mark Few schedule in the past.
So a gimme game against Chicago State – a team that needs to find a way to fill out an entire schedule this season – seems totally reasonable as a tune-up before the WCC Tournament, assuming that’s when the game ends up taking place.
Mark Few and the Gonzaga Bulldogs remain engaged with a handful of high level prospects in the upcoming 2023 and 2024 recruiting classes, despite having just one player – guard Dusty Stromer – committed at this time.
In fact, the staff has even started taking a look at prospects in the far, far away class of 2025, including Joliet West (IL) point guard Jeremiah Fears.
According to Max Feldman of Made Hoops, Gonzaga made the trek to see Fears along with Oregon and Michigan State, while Tommy Lloyd’s Arizona Wildcats followed suit shortly thereafter.
Fears has already received offers from many high levels programs, despite just now starting his sophomore year in high school. Programs with offers on the table right now include Michigan, Xavier, Illinois, Michigan State, Iowa, Missouri, and Ohio.
Fears’ older brother, Jeremy, is a commit to Tom Izzo’s program for the class of 2023, so no doubt the Spartans are hoping to secure the pair for the next half decade or so.
There is little info out there about Fears otherwise, as he has not picked up any rankings at this young stage in his career. Still, multiple Big Ten schools making offers is obviously a sign this kid can really play, and Few and the Zags are smart to get in early and see if they can convince this young man to come out to Spokane and be next in a long line of excellent guards at Gonzaga.
When Tommy Lloyd left Gonzaga to take the head coaching job at Arizona, there was concern the staff would no longer pursue international prospects.
Gonzaga’s history of successful international recruiting speaks for itself, with players like Ronny Turiaf, Kelly Olynyk, Kevin Pangos, Domantas Sabonis, Pryzemek Karnowski and Rui Hachimura representing some of the best talent the program has ever seen.
However, the Zags aren’t giving up on the international pool just yet, and in fact they recently made the trek to check out a prospect currently being recruited by another WCC opponent, Randy Bennett’s Saint Mary’s Gaels.
That prospect is Alex Toohey, a 6’7 forward from the class of 2023 who is currently at the NBA Global Academy in Australia.
While it’s no surprise to see Bennett and his staff looking at Toohey, it’s nice to see the Zags get involved here as well, especially as his stock has continued to rise. Toohey specifically mentioned conversations with Saint Mary’s, Iowa State, and Providence in an article at 247Sports, and since then it appears he’s received interest not just from Gonzaga but Villanova, Duke, Michigan, Florida and Illinois as well.
Toohey describes himself as a player who can guard one-through-four on defense, and who can play above the rim while also knocking down shots.
At 6’7 he is reminiscent of the Julian Strawther and Corey Kispert big wing or small-ball four type player, and if he can shoot anywhere close to the level those two guys can he would be a great addition for the Zags.