Arrow-right Camera
Gonzaga Basketball
Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

An educated guess of Gonzaga’s starting five for 2017-18 season

UPDATED: Sat., Sept. 30, 2017, 4:43 p.m.

Clockwise from left: Johnathan Williams, Silas Melson, Rui Hachimura, Josh Perkins, Zach Norvell, Corey Kispert and Killian Tillie figure to play prominent roles this season at Gonzaga. The Zags kick off the season next Saturday with their annual Kraziness in the Kennel. (File / SR, AP)
Clockwise from left: Johnathan Williams, Silas Melson, Rui Hachimura, Josh Perkins, Zach Norvell, Corey Kispert and Killian Tillie figure to play prominent roles this season at Gonzaga. The Zags kick off the season next Saturday with their annual Kraziness in the Kennel. (File / SR, AP)

There are a lot of unknowns about the 2017-18 Gonzaga basketball team after losing half of the eight-man rotation – and arguably four of the top five players – from the squad that won 37 games and advanced to the NCAA championship game.

But there doesn’t seem to be quite as much mystery about the starting lineup – at least four-fifths of it. Here are my best guesses on the Zags’ first unit:

THE MOST LIKELY

F – Johnathan Williams. There isn’t a starting lineup scenario that doesn’t include Williams – and probably Killian Tillie, Josh Perkins and Silas Melson, for that matter. Williams is a versatile, athletic big man who impacts both ends of court. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he averaged a double-double. He is Gonzaga’s top candidate for WCC Player of the Year.

F – Killian Tillie. The sophomore from France is expected to take the next step, from eighth man in the rotation to the starting five. Tillie was productive in smaller segments last season and his stats should rise significantly with additional minutes. Called “a problem solver” by coach Mark Few, Tillie is coming off a strong performance this summer for France in the FIBA U19 World Cup.

F/G – Rui Hachimura. The ‘3’ is the toughest position to predict and it could change depending on the opponent. The Zags could go big with the sophomore from Japan or more conventional with Zach Norvell Jr. Hachimura has huge potential. He was excellent in the FIBA U19 World Cup, showing 3-point shooting range and athleticism on a Japanese team that relied on his scoring ability. The 6-foot-8 Hachimura could be a matchup nightmare for opponents and he’ll probably see extended minutes at the ‘4’.

G – Josh Perkins. The only true point guard on the roster could be the biggest key to the Zags’ season. Perkins has demonstrated he can play the position at a high level, distributing and shooting with accuracy from distance. He’s also had shaky, turnover-cluttered stretches. He will be asked to carry a major load. A consistent, reliable Perkins signals trouble for opponents.

G – Silas Melson. A stabilizing force at both ends of the floor, Melson made big strides last season and figures to step into a starting role as a senior. He is a quality defender and underrated at the offensive end. The Zags could use additional points from Melson and Perkins with the exit of guards Nigel Williams-Goss and Jordan Mathews.

Bench: Jacob Larsen, Zach Norvell Jr., Corey Kispert, Jeremy Jones, Jesse Wade, Joel Ayayi, Jack Beach, Alex Martin

THE NEXT MOST LIKELY

F – Williams

F – Tillie

G – Zach Norvell Jr. Norvell redshirted last year after knee surgery stalled his first season as a Zag. Still, he showed his knack for scoring with 18 points in 23 minutes in GU’s exhibition win over West Georgia last season. The 6-foot-5, 205-pounder has the abillity to score inside and outside. Norvell could also play the ‘2’ when Melson slides over to point guard to give Perkins a break.

G – Perkins

G – Melson

Bench: Larsen, Hachimura, Kispert, Jones, Wade, Ayayi, Beach, Martin

THE NEXT, NEXT MOST LIKELY

F – Williams

F – Tillie

G/F – Corey Kispert. The true freshman has the size and strength to make a smooth transition to the college game. Kispert can stretch the floor with his perimeter shooting. His foot speed at the ‘3’ will be challenged by athletic wings. He is coming off a serious foot injury that cut short his senior season of high school ball, but he’s healthy at the outset of practice. Kispert figures to carve out a place in the rotation as a starter or key reserve.

G – Perkins

G – Melson

Bench: Larsen, Norvell, Hachimura, Jones, Wade, Ayayi, Beach, Martin


Subscribe to Zags newsletter

Get the latest Zags headlines delivered to your inbox as they happen.

There was a problem subscribing you to the newsletter. Double check your email and try again, or email webteam@spokesman.com

You have been successfully subscribed!


Top stories in Gonzaga basketball

Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura scores 25 points in Japan’s World Cup victory

UPDATED: 7:58 p.m.

Rui Hachimura led the way Monday, scoring 25 points as Japan picked up another huge win, 75-60 over Iran, in the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers. Hachimura, Gonzaga’s 6-foot-8 junior forward, filled out the stat sheet with seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals at sold-out Ota City General Gymnasium in Tokyo.