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Forward Drew Timme returning to Gonzaga next season

UPDATED: Wed., May 26, 2021

Gonzaga forward Drew Timme, right, celebrates a basket against USC in an Elite Eight game in the NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis on March 30.  (Darron Cummings/Associated Press)
Gonzaga forward Drew Timme, right, celebrates a basket against USC in an Elite Eight game in the NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis on March 30. (Darron Cummings/Associated Press)

Drew Timme’s nifty footwork and ‘stache celebrations are returning to Gonzaga for another season.

Timme announced Wednesday he’s returning for his junior season and will not pursue professional options. His decision, which was expected by most NBA Draft analysts, solidifies the Zags’ roster, which includes the nation’s second-ranked recruiting class.

Timme will be one of the favorites for national player of the year honors next season. Gonzaga should be in the mix for the No. 1 ranking in the preseason poll. The Zags were No. 1 in the AP preseason poll last year for the first time in program history.

“After reviewing options with my family, I’ve decided to return to Gonzaga,” Timme said in a GU release. “I am excited to come back to Spokane and continue my collegiate career. I appreciate everything I’ve learned so far from the Gonzaga coaching staff, and look forward to growing my game more. I love playing at GU, being a part of the program, and can’t wait to play in front of the best fans in the country again.”

Timme had a breakout sophomore season as Gonzaga won its first 31 games before falling to Baylor in the national championship game. He won the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award last season and earned numerous second-team All-American honors.

Timme led the WCC in scoring (19.0 points) and field-goal accuracy (65.5%), the latter ranking third nationally.

Along the way, Timme kept fans guessing about his facial hair – beard or ‘Drew Manchu’? – and occasionally punctuated baskets with ‘stache celebrations, tracing his mustache with his index fingers and then pointing to the sky.

Timme is a cornerstone in Gonzaga’s offense, ranked No. 1 in KenPom’s efficiency ratings. He put foul pressure on opposing frontcourts and attempted 70 more free throws than his next closest teammate. He averaged 7.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists.

The 6-foot-10, 235-pound forward from Richardson, Texas, didn’t appear on most NBA mock drafts despite being one of the most productive players in college basketball. Timme is highly efficient in the paint with creative footwork and post moves, but NBA teams usually focus on bigs with defensive versatility and an ability to stretch the floor at the offensive end.

Timme has attempted just 24 3-pointers, 21 last season, in 65 career games. He made 67.7% of 2-point attempts as a sophomore. He improved his free-throw accuracy to nearly 70% from 61.1% in his first season.

Gonzaga should have one of the nation’s best frontcourts next season. Timme, who averaged 28.1 minutes as a sophomore, anchors a talented group that includes 7-1 Chet Holmgren, the top-ranked recruit in the 2021 class, 6-8 Anton Watson, 6-10 Ben Gregg and 6-9 Kaden Perry, an incoming freshman.

Timme had 31 double-digit scoring games and scored at least 22 in four NCAA Tournament contests. He scored a career-high 30 points in a second-round win over Oklahoma. He had at least three assists in eight of Gonzaga’s last nine games.

Timme earned All-NCAA Tournament Team honors after averaging 20.3 points. He made 64.9% from the field and 81.3% from the free-throw line in six tournament games.

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