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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Grip on Sports: Gonzaga’s roster is strong for next season – and may get even stronger

Gonzaga is on a lengthy list of basketball powers recruiting standout point guard Brandon Williams, according to (SR)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • We all know Gonzaga is going to be really good next season. In fact, the Zags could begin the year in the top five or so. But there is one more high school recruit available who could really lift GU to the next level. Read on.


• When point guard Brandon Williams announced last summer he was all in with the University of Arizona, it was just another case of the rich getting richer. The Wildcats seemed to be on their way to locking in a great recruiting class, which included Shaquille O’Neal’s son Shareef.

Then the FBI raided a few places. And Arizona assistant Book Richardson was indicted. 

Consequently, the Wildcats’ recruiting class fell apart. 

Williams is one of those who rescinded his commitment, though he said when he did he would still consider Arizona, depending on how the problems played out.

Gonzaga had been recruiting the quick point guard up to his commitment, so it wasn’t surprising the Zags jumped back in. And jumped in with both feet.

Mark Few made a home visit in the past week, along with assistant Donny Daniels. According to Williams’ father, Chris Wright, it went well. And it opened some eyes.

It can’t have hurt when Rui Hachimura and Killian Tillie, two of the better players on the West Coast, announced recently they were returning to Spokane. Nor does it hurt to be able to watch film of Nigel Williams-Goss and Josh Perkins working together during the 2017 NCAA final game run. 

In March, just after pulling back from his Arizona commitment, Williams told 24/7 Sports, the recruiting-centric part of CBS Sports, after breaking down film, “Gonzaga would be perfect for me.”

And Williams would be a big piece of the GU puzzle for next season. It seems like a good fit, with the Zags in need of another ball handler – if it’s Williams, he very well could be the main ball handler and Perkins could slide to more of a shooting-guard spot – and Williams looking for a place to improve his skills, get stronger and prepare for a pro basketball career.

It’s a good enough fit that Williams announced yesterday Gonzaga is in his final three, along with Arizona and Oregon. Jim Meehan has a story detailing Williams’ announcement on social media. In the story, Jim does mention most recruiting sites feel Williams will pick either Oregon or Arizona. The Zags seem to be the underdog. Again.

But of those three schools, it’s obvious the Bulldogs have the most talent returning. And they will enter the season as the more highly thought of in national rankings. In fact, they may only need one more piece to get them over the top.

Williams said he will not announce his final choice until June, after making his June 1 official visit to Gonzaga. The Zags will be his final visit. And may just be his final destination.


WSU: Around the Pac-12 yesterday, Washington held practice and then quarterback Jacob Eason, the transfer from Georgia, met with the media. He’s happy to be back home. … Oregon State feels its linebacking group is getting better. … In basketball news, there is some disagreement at UCLA about an assistant coach’s dismissal. There is no disagreement on his replacement, however. … Arizona is ecstatic Williams is still considering the school. … What will the all-conference team look like next season?

Gonzaga: Besides the Williams news, Jim has a story on the date of the North Carolina game being set. It’s Dec. 15 if you are interested. And of course you are. It’s an intersectional matchup between two teams who played for the national title about 13 months ago.

EWU: The Eagles look to be fated to face a lower division foe to fill out their fall football schedule. Jim Allen delves into the options available for Eastern for its 11th game at this late date. … Four of EWU’s games will be televised on Root, including the Sept. 27 game with Idaho. That is part of Idaho’s three appearances. Jim has that story as well

NIC: The Cardinals won an NWAC league golf match yesterday. 

Horse racing: There isn’t a horse racing track in Spokane anymore, but the sports past, and one of its greatest jockeys, is being honored this year. Jim Price has the story of Albert Johnson’s election to the Washington Sports Hall of Fame.

Preps: Central Valley girls’ coach Freddie Rehkow earned the National High School Coaches Association’s coach of the year award, the first Washington coach to ever garner that honor. Dave Nichols has that story. … We also have roundups to pass along from golf, soccer and tennis.

Mariners: After losing a one-run game against Oakland, the M’s played another one-run game Monday night against the defending world champs, the Houston Astros. This time Seattle held on for a 2-1 victory. … The M’s face a tough roster decision, based upon what to do with Ichiro Suzuki. … Our Dave Nichols addresses the Ichiro conundrum in this Out of Right Field post. … I spoke with Larry Weir about Portland possibly getting a major league baseball team and that conversation is part of Larry’s latest Press Box pod. The talk about Portland is heating up in baseball circles.

Seahawks: It looks as if the Hawks will have to give up on last year’s top draft pick, Malik McDowell. … This year, they seemed destined to take a running back or two. … Austin Davis is back on the roster.


• The first of two NCAA-allowed spring open recruiting periods is this weekend and high school seniors who have not signed letters of intent are allowed to play. If Williams avails himself of that option in a tournament somewhere, you can be sure Gonzaga coaches will be watching. Until later …