NCAA Tournament Primer: Gonzaga Bulldogs

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Get to know all of the NCAA Tournament’s automatic bids here.

Conference: West Coast Conference

Coach: Mark Few

Record: 28-6 (15-3 West Coast Conference)

Rankings and Ratings:

– Kenpom: 19
– RPI: 24
– AP/USA Today: Not ranked

Seeding?: In Dave Ommen’s most recent bracket, the Zags were a No. 9 seed.

Names you need to know: Kevin Pangos (14.2 ppg, 3.3 apg, 41.3% 3PT), Sam Dower (14.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg), Gary Bell Jr. (11.1 ppg, 41.7% 3PT)

Stats you need to know: Gonzaga has developed a reputation for being a team that scores a ton of points without a care for the defensive end of the floor. That’s hasn’t been entirely true throughout Mark Few’s tenure, and it certainly isn’t true this season. Gonzaga is 19th nationally in defensive efficiency after being ranked closer to 150th towards the end of non-conference play. They were a full tenth of a point better per possession defensively than any other team in the conference. If you’re not familiar with advanced stats, that’s a massive number.

Tendencies: The Zags will once again enter the tournament with a reputation for being a team that is built around shooting threes, and while that’s not necessarily inaccurate — they do spread the floor with guys that bury open looks — this is once again an offense structured around their front court. Sam Dower is the team’s leading scorer playing alongside Przemek Karnowski, a 7-foot-1 left-handed Polish mountain.

Big wins, bad losses: Winning the automatic bid was huge for the Zags because their best win (BYU) doesn’t quite make up for their worst losses (San Diego, Portland).

How’d they get here?: Gonzaga rolled through the WCC tournament, blowing out both Saint Mary’s and BYU in the process.

Outlook: This Gonzaga team is not as good as last year’s team, and their biggest issue might be the fact that they weren’t quite bad enough throughout the year to avoid the 8-9 game. They can beat a No. 8 seed. I’m not sure that they are good enough to knock off one of the top four teams in the country. The good news? Their tournament ended early, which means that Kevin Pangos now has more than a week to rest up and get his toe as healthy as possible.

How do I know you?: Adam’s tears?

Memphis, Penny land commitment from second five-star prospect, Precious Achiuwa

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The transformation is complete.

On Friday afternoon, Precious Achiuwa, a top 15 prospect in the Class of 2019, announced that he has committed to play his college basketball at Memphis, joining one of the best recruiting classes in the country and affirming that Penny Hardaway will enter the 2019-20 season with a preseason top 10 team.

Achiuwa, one of the top combo-forwards in the class and the kind of athlete that will make him an attractive player to NBA GMs, joins No. 1 player James Wiseman and fellow four-star prospects D.J. Jeffries, Lester Quinones, Boogie Ellis, Damion Baugh and Malcolm Dandridge in Penny’s first real recruiting class as Memphis head coach.

The Tigers also add Rayjon Tucker, arguably the nation’s top grad transfer and a potential NBA player in his own right.

As we wrote earlier this week, Penny is building an absolute monster in Memphis.

Grant Williams will remain in 2019 NBA Draft

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Grant Williams announced on Friday morning that he will be staying in the NBA draft after an All-American junior season with Tennessee.

Williams averaged 18.8 points, 7.5 boards, 3.2 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.1 steals this past season, helping lead Tennessee to a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament and on a run to the Sweet 16, where they lost in overtime to Purdue.

This is probably the right decision for him to make. While he is somewhat undersized and limited athletically, Williams is such a smart and savvy players. He really understands how to pass, he can defend multiple positions and, most importantly, he has a skill-set that should allow him to be able to contribute as a role player at the next level, particularly if his three-point stroke is as good as it has looked in postseason workouts.

Williams is slotted in at No. 19 to San Antonio in the most recent NBC Sports mock draft.

Tennessee will now have to play the waiting game with Jordan Bone, who is still undecided on his status. The Vols currently sit 22nd in the NBC Sports preseason top 25.

Clemson lands Texas Tech transfer Khavon Moore

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Clemson is adding a former top-50 recruit to its roster.

Texas Tech transfer Khavon Moore has pledged to coach Brad Brownell and the Tigers, he announced Thursday.

The 6-foot-7 Moore, a former four-star recruit, played just 2 minutes last season for the Red Raiders and saw his season shutdown amid medical concerns due to lingering issues from a broken leg he suffered in high school. The plan was for him to seek a medical hardship redshirt for last season, which could allow him to still have four years of eligibility remaining at Clemson after sitting out the upcoming season as a transfer.

The Tigers went 20-14 last season and missed the NCAA tournament for the seventh time in nine seasons under Brownell.

Texas Tech, meanwhile, continues to build a monster even with departures like former high-profile recruit.

 

 

Four-star forward Jalen Wilson asks out of Michigan letter of intent

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John Beilein isn’t the only loss Michigan sustained this week.

Jalen Wilson, a top-50 guard in 2019, has requested out of his National Letter of Intent with the Wolverines, he announced Thursday.

“Due to the sudden head coaching change, I have requested my release from The University of Michigan, and will re-open my recruitment,” he wrote on social media.

Beilein’s decision to leave Michigan for the NBA and the Cleveland Cavaliers shocked the college basketball world earlier this week, and there’s little surprise to see it shake the Wolverines’ recruiting class as the head coaching position remains vacant and Michigan conducting a search of its next coach.

Wilson, a 6-foot-8 forward, is now considering Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma State and Florida along with the Wolverines, according to 247Sports. The Texas native suddenly becomes one of the most desirable players left available ahead of the upcoming season.

Cole Bajema, a top-150 wing from Washington, is the lone remaining signee in Michigan’s 2019 class.

Nebraska adds former Tennessee forward Walker

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LINCOLN, Neb. — Former Tennessee forward Derrick Walker is transferring to Nebraska.

Nebraska announced Wednesday it has added Walker to its roster. Nebraska officials said Walker will sit out the 2019-20 season before playing for the Cornhuskers. He has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Walker entered the NCAA transfer portal after averaging 0.8 points, 1.1 rebounds and 5.3 minutes for Tennessee this past season. The 6-foot-8 Walker averaged 1.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and 8.8 minutes as a freshman in the 2017-18 season.

Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said in a statement, “Derrick is a physical player who gives us skill and versatility in the post.”