Sophomore guard Zach Norvell Jr. became the third Gonzaga basketball player this week to declare for the NBA draft.
Norvell made his announcement Saturday afternoon in a school release.
“I have grown so much from my first day at Gonzaga both on and off the court,” said Norvell, who averaged 14.9 points and 3.1 assists last season. “I’d like to thank Coach (Mark) Few and the entire GU coaching staff for the past three years, and for their support with this decision. I am excited to have this chance to fulfill my dream.”
Norvell’s announcement means Gonzaga’s top three scorers – led by junior forward Rui Hachimura (19.7) and junior forward Brandon Clarke (16.9) – have declared for the draft. Senior point guard Josh Perkins (11.0) was fourth in scoring for the Zags, who reached the Elite Eight.
Norvell told ESPN he plans to sign with an agent and will seriously consider staying in the draft. Under the new rules, players can hire an agent and go through the draft process but must terminate the relationship by May 29 if they choose to return to school.
“Zach has been an absolute joy to coach and a tremendous asset to this program,” Few said. “As with all of our guys that go through this process, we will help provide accurate information to Zach from the correct people to assist him in making the best decision.”
Those sources include Few’s and his staff’s discussions with NBA coaches/administrators and an NBA draft evaluation. Players also gain valuable feedback from workouts with NBA teams or if they’re invited to next month’s NBA draft combine (69 players participated last year).
Norvell shows up in the second round of a couple of mock drafts: No. 44 to Philadelphia, according to SI.com, and No. 53 to Boston, according to basketballinsiders.com.
Norvell is rated No. 48 on The Athletic’s big board and No. 91 in NBAdraft.net’s top 100, five spots in front of teammate Killian Tillie, who hasn’t announced his intentions. Sunday is the deadline for underclassmen to submit their names for the draft.
“I do like Zach, but I don’t know if he can get drafted,” an NBA executive, who requested anonymity for obvious reasons, said earlier this week. “I like him because he’s so confident and willing to take all the big shots and he’s not poor in any other category per se, but when you’re a high-volume shooter you wish he could do a little more.
“Maybe he gets stuck in the G League. Maybe he goes in the second round.”
Norvell is a “hell of a college player,” said an NBA scout, adding that the 6-foot-5 wing is a streaky shooter and turnover-prone.
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Norvell earned first-team All-WCC honors last season. His 97 3-pointers led the conference and ranked third on GU’s single-season list. He was second on the team in steals with 47.
The Chicago native shot 43.4% from the field, including 37% on 3-pointers, and 86.7% at the free-throw line. He struggled in GU’s last five games, making 15 of 55 field-goal attempts (27.3%), including 10 of 37 from distance (27%).
Norvell was the 2018 conference newcomer of the year. He redshirted in 2017 after off-season knee surgery.
Gonzaga’s backcourt is thin following the departure of seniors Perkins, Geno Crandall and Jeremy Jones, who played wing or forward. Wing Corey Kispert returns after starting 36 games. Guards Joel Ayayi and Greg Foster Jr. combined for just 257 minutes last season.
The incoming class includes 6-1 Kittitas High guard Brock Ravet, 6-6 Lithuanian wing Martynas Arlauskas and 6-9 Gonzaga Prep standout Anton Watson, who could play wing or forward. The Zags have shown interest in several graduate transfer guards.