Gonzaga still missing key piece as fall semester begins

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One of this year’s highest-profile transfers, a player that will have a legitimate, tangible impact on the national title picture for the 2018-19 season, has not yet enrolled at his new school.

Geno Crandall, a two-time all-Big Sky lead guard at North Dakota, announced that he would be graduating and transferring to Gonzaga for his final year of eligibility over the summer. The problem, it seems, is that Crandall has yet to actually graduate.

Crandall has been removed from Gonzaga’s roster. UND has confirmed that he is still enrolled at the school as the fall semester kicks off. “Geno is continuing to work on his NCAA transfer requirements and we are excited for him to become a Zag,” a Gonzaga spokesman told the Spokesman Review last week.

Even if Crandall, who averaged 16.6 points, 4.3 boards and 3.6 asssists last season, which included a 28-point performance as the Fighting Hawks nearly upset Gonzaga in Spokane, needs an extra semester to graduate, he can transfer into Gonzaga and be eligible immediately for the second semester, but that would do a number on his ability to pick up the offense, find a role within the team and provide the impact that he was expected to.

And that’s why this matters.

Because I am not sure I’m quite ready to fully trust Josh Perkins as the starting point guard of a national title team.

At one point considered a top 25 prospect in the country, Perkins has had a good career with the Bulldogs. This past season, as a redshirt junior, he averaged 12.3 points and 5.1 assists. Going against defenses in the WCC, Perkins is better than fine; he’s the best the conference has to offer.

But we’re not talking about the Zags winning their league. Gonzaga’s success is no longer defined with WCC titles, not when they are one year removed from a trip to the title game and heading into this season as a consensus top five team; over at NBC Sports, we have Gonzaga as the No. 2 team in the preseason.

At this point, we’re talking Final Fours and national titles when we’re talking Gonzaga, and Perkins’ effectiveness as a decision-maker and a creator against the best of the best is where the doubt lies. If Perkins plays like a fifth-year senior that already has national title game experience, the Zags look like a good bet to get back to their second Final Four in three years.

Crandall was supposed to be the insurance, another veteran guard that could score, provide depth at the lead guard spot and give Mark Few some lineup versatility; we all know how important it is to have an abundance of shooting and playmaking on the court at all times.

Crandall was supposed to provide Gonzaga with that.

And now that there is doubt about when — if? — he’ll ever get to Spokane, Gonzaga’s national title hopes should get dinged.