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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Gonzaga-Santa Clara key matchup: Forward Josip Vrankic has loads of WCC experience

Feb. 24, 2021 Updated Wed., Feb. 24, 2021 at 9:39 p.m.

Santa Clara senior forward Josip Vrankic has put together a strong senior season, despite numerous COVID-19 interruptions to the team’s schedule.

The 6-foot-9, 215-pound Vrankic is averaging career highs with 15.4 points and 8.6 rebounds. He hasn’t done much damage behind the arc (26.2%) but he’s getting to the free-throw line more than any of his previous three seasons and he’s hitting a career-best 74.2%.

Vrankic is one of the most experienced players in the conference with 102 career starts. He’s averaged double figures in scoring every season while playing 30 minutes per game. Vrankic scored 25 in a loss to San Diego last Thursday and 26 in Saturday’s win over Pepperdine.

He’s the only Bronco to start all 16 games. He’s usually joined by 6-11 Guglielmo Caruso in the starting five and on occasion it’s three bigs with 6-8 D.J. Mitchell, a transfer from Wake Forest.

Gonzaga could adjust accordingly, but it’s likely Corey Kispert will match up against Vrankic in the four-guard starting lineup of late. Sophomore forward Anton Watson figures to be a factor against SCU’s frontcourt depth.

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