The public’s first opportunity to see Gonzaga’s youthful basketball team comes Saturday at Kraziness in the Kennel.
As an added bonus, the 6,000 fans who typically jam the McCarthey Athletic Center for the annual event can peek into the program’s future, with GU commits Dominick Harris and Julian Strawther in attendance.
Festivities begin at 4 p.m. as the Zags, reloading after losing four players currently on NBA rosters and two others playing professionally overseas, unveil their 2019-20 team. Event staples include player and coaching staff introductions, a 3-point shooting competition and a Blue-White scrimmage. The dunk contest has apparently been replaced with a skills challenge.
Kraziness arrives with a few topics to watch. One, much like previous years with Przemek Karnowski’s back and Josh Perkins’ shoulder, is a health update on graduate transfer guards Admon Gilder and Ryan Woolridge.
Gilder, a three-year contributor at Texas A&M, was sidelined last season by a blood clot. Woolridge had surgery to repair a stress fracture in his patella (kneecap) shortly after last season.
Gilder returned to the court sooner than Woolridge, who has made considerable progress in the past month. The Zags know both are experienced and have solid résumés, but they weren’t able to go full speed over the summer.
The point guard position merits monitoring as the Zags replace Perkins, the school’s all-time assists leader who ranks second in career wins. Woolridge could be the first option after averaging 11.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists for North Texas last year. Gilder played primarily at shooting guard for the Aggies but also has experience running the point.
Redshirt sophomore Joel Ayayi saw limited minutes last season, but he had a strong summer with his native France at the FIBA U19 World Cup. Ayayi scored 33 points as France took third place with a win over Lithuania. The 6-foot-5 guard made the tournament’s All-Star Five, along with GU freshman center Oumar Ballo, a native of Mali.
Freshman guard Brock Ravet, the all-time leading scorer in Washington prep basketball, will compete for time.
“You’re not going to replace (Perkins) with just one guy,” head coach Mark Few said during the West Coast Conference tipoff Thursday in Las Vegas. “Ryan is going to be a great addition. He brings speed, athleticism and a lot of experience.
“Brock can really shoot the ball and he’s going to log some minutes. Gilder can play some minutes (at point). Joel is a young man that’s bided his time, waited and worked hard, and I think he’s ready to play some minutes.”
Gonzaga is early in the process of putting the pieces together and establishing roles. Cornerstones figure to be seniors Killian Tillie, Woolridge and Gilder, junior Corey Kispert and sophomores Filip Petrusev and Ayayi.
Several of the six freshmen, including Gonzaga Prep product Anton Watson, will be in the mix for extended minutes as the Zags replace their top four scorers from last season, including first-round picks Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke.
Suggs and Holmgren are teammates at Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis and play on the same AAU squad. Suggs is No. 6 in ESPN’s 2020 rankings and the 7-foot Holmgren is No. 2 in 247sports’ composite 2021 rankings.
Doors open at 3 and fans are encouraged to arrive early for Kraziness. There’s a carnival, weather permitting, on the south lawn of the McCarthey Center from noon to 2:45. Fans are reminded that GU instituted additional security measures last season, including a clear bag policy.
Players will be available after the scrimmage for an autograph session in the concourse. Schedule cards and posters will be provided.
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