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Sports >  NCAA basketball

Gonzaga lands Iowa State transfer guard Rasir Bolton

April 30, 2021 Updated Fri., April 30, 2021 at 10:59 p.m.

Iowa State’s Rasir Bolton defends against Baylor guard MaCio Teague during a Big 12 Conference game Jan. 29, 2020, in Ames, Iowa. Bolton, who is transferring to Gonzaga, averaged a team-leading 15.5 points per game for the Cyclones last season.  (Associated Press)
Iowa State’s Rasir Bolton defends against Baylor guard MaCio Teague during a Big 12 Conference game Jan. 29, 2020, in Ames, Iowa. Bolton, who is transferring to Gonzaga, averaged a team-leading 15.5 points per game for the Cyclones last season. (Associated Press)

Rasir Bolton, who led Iowa State in scoring and several other statistical categories last season, is transferring to Gonzaga.

The 6-foot-3, 185-pound guard posted Friday on Twitter he’s “110% committed” to the Zags, who are bringing in their fifth grad transfer guard in the past four years.

Bolton has signed a financial aid agreement, according to a Gonzaga release.

Bolton earned third-team All-Big 12 honors last season after averaging a team-leading 33 minutes, 15.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists for the Cyclones, who finished 2-22. The junior from Petersburg, Virginia, also led Iowa State with 27 steals.

“On the court, the winning speaks for itself and the coaches they have there and what they’ve built,” Bolton said of picking Gonzaga over Arkansas, Wake Forest and Missouri State. “Just the family feel they gave me. Every player that’s been there has said the loved it.”

Under the NCAA’s new one-time transfer rules, Bolton will likely need a waiver to be eligible immediately because this is his second transfer. He began his career at Penn State before playing the past two seasons at Iowa State.

Bolton anticipates completing his degree this summer and he’s optimistic he’ll be eligible next season. He’ll have two years of eligibility because the NCAA granted players an additional season due to COVID-19’s impact on the 2021 season.

Bolton indicated last month he planned on staying at Iowa State, but later tweeted that “I learned that every decision is not ours to make.” He was recruited to Iowa State by Steve Prohm, who was fired in mid-March and replaced three days later by former UNLV coach T.J. Otzelberger.

“He brought me in for an individual meeting and told me I wasn’t going to play there next year,” Bolton said. “I just took it and accepted it and did what I had to do.”

Bolton entered the transfer portal April 6, the day after Gonzaga lost to Baylor in the national championship game. The Zags reached out to Bolton roughly 10 days later.

“I am looking forward to Rasir joining our program and believe he is going to help our team in a variety of ways next year,” coach Mark Few said in a GU release.

Bolton played his freshman season at Penn State. He said last summer that he left the program because former Nittany Lions coach Pat Chambers told him he had a “noose” around his neck during Bolton’s freshman season. Chambers eventually resigned after an investigation revealed additional examples of inappropriate conduct.

Presuming Bolton is eligible next season, he would provide Gonzaga with an experienced ballhandler, scorer and playmaker. He’s averaged 13.7 points on 41.3% shooting, including 34.2% on 3-pointers, in 83 career games. He can create off dribble penetration and he’s a career 85.6% free-throw shooter.

Bolton led Iowa State in free-throw attempts by a wide margin each of the past two seasons.

“Attacking downhill, getting to the rim, making plays for other guys and knocking down open shots,” Bolton said of the strengths of his game. “I take pride in defense, the one-on-one matchup and not letting my guy score. I like to play in the passing lanes.”

Rising senior Andrew Nembhard is expected to be the primary point guard, but the Zags have played two point guards together frequently through the years. Bolton has experience playing point and off guard at Iowa State.

“Everything is position-less, so you have to be comfortable with both,” he said.

Gonzaga’s backcourt includes Nembhard, incoming five-star guard Hunter Sallis and rising sophomores Dominick Harris and Julian Strawther. The Zags have two open scholarships.

The Zags lost Jalen Suggs, Corey Kispert and Joel Ayayi from last year’s 31-1 squad.

“With them losing their three guards to the NBA, coming in and trying to fill those spots, scoring, leadership, whatever I can do to impact winning that’s what my role will be,” Bolton said.

He expects to arrive on campus in July.

“It looks like a family environment. The guys look connected on the court the way they play and share the ball and have fun as a team,” Bolton said. “I’m looking forward to being part of the culture and fitting in and doing my part.”

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