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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

The Fearsome 14: Scouting the best players on each team Gonzaga will face during the nonconference season

UPDATED: Sun., Nov. 7, 2021

There’s a decent chance the top pick of the 2022 NBA draft will be on the floor when Gonzaga squares off against Duke at T-Mobile Arena on Black Friday. If it’s not Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga’s five-star freshman, it could be Paolo Banchero, the Duke rookie and Seattle native who’s already made his share of preseason All-American teams, and topped Holmgren in a number of way-too-early mock drafts.

Another challenging nonconference schedule awaits Gonzaga this season and while Banchero could be the best of the bunch, the Bulldogs will have a handful of tough assignments throughout a slate that also includes games against Texas, UCLA, Alabama and Texas Tech.

Below are 14 players – one from each team the Bulldogs face during nonconference play – Gonzaga will have to keep an eye on over the next two months.

Nov. 9 – Cameron Gooden, Dixie State: Though no Trailblazers players showed up on the preseason All-Western Athletic Conference teams, Gooden would’ve been the best option after leading Dixie State in points (13.1 per game), assists (3.2) and steals (1.6) last season.

Nov. 13 – Marcus Carr, Texas: Former Montverde Academy teammate of Andrew Nembhard is the most accomplished of Texas’ six transfers and comes to Austin with 1,361 career points under his belt. The All-Big Ten first-team choice is a solid distributor, dishing out 4.9 assists at Minnesota last season.

Nov. 15 – Keondre Montgomery, Alcorn State: Mississippi State transfer held four major conference offers and was considered state of Mississippi’s No. 2 overall recruit in 2021 class. Small forward was the team’s top scorer in an exhibition against. Xavier.

Nov. 19 – Dylan Penn, Bellarmine: Guard was a ASUN Conference first-team pick after helping Bellarmine to a second-place finish in the regular season during the school’s first year at the Division I level. Scored 12.9 ppg while ranking fourth in the league with 3.6 assists.

Nov. 22 – Jermaine Jackson, Central Michigan: Transfer guard could be key to first-year coach Tony Barbee, who takes over a CMU team that lost its top four scorers. Jackson, a Long Island transfer, averaged 15 ppg in 2020-21 and led his team with 36 3-pointers.

Nov. 23 – Johnny Juzang, UCLA: Breakout star of March Madness nearly sent Gonzaga packing in Indianapolis, scoring 29 points in Final Four matchup. Proficient 3-point shooter scored at least 27 points in three NCAA Tournament games, averaging 22.8 in the postseason.

Nov. 26 – Paolo Banchero, Duke: One-time Gonzaga target is expected to have a massive impact in Mike Krzyzewski’s final season with the Blue Devils. Power forward displays elite athleticism at 6-foot-9 and averaged 22.6 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.6 blocks during junior season at Seattle’s O’Dea High.

Nov. 29 – Montre Gipson, Tarleton State: Was the WAC’s leader in 3-point percentage, making 26 of 52 shots (50%) from long distance last season, and led the Texans in points (15.3), assists (3.0) and free-throw percentage (.852).

Dec. 4 – Jaden Shackelford, Alabama: Jahvon Quinerly and five-star guard JD Davison were also options here, but Shackelford is probably the most important returning player for an Alabama team that lost to UCLA in the Sweet 16. Guard was team’s go-to scorer in 2020-21 (14.0 ppg) and a decent rebounder (3.8 rpg).

Dec. 9 – Jordan Minor, Merrimack: An All-Northeast Conference third-team selection, Minot was Merrimack’s most impactful player in 2020-21, sharing the team lead in points per game (12.0), while leading his squad in rebounds (8.1) and blocks (1.3)

Dec. 12 – Langston Wilson, Washington: The nation’s No. 2 JC player would’ve been on Gonzaga’s schedule either way after flipping from Alabama to Washington. The long and athletic forward averaged 10.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks last season at Georgia Highland.

Dec. 18 – Terrence Shannon Jr., Texas Tech: After losing Mac McClung to the NBA, Shannon should carry a larger role for the Red Raiders after averaging 12.9 points and 4.0 rebounds as a sophomore. Was named to the preseason All-Big 12 team along with the Jerry West Award watch list.

Dec. 20 – Jalen Cone, Northern Arizona: A Big Sky Conference team that lost two starters might need to lean heavily on Cone, a Virginia Tech transfer who led the Atlantic Coast Conference in 3-point percentage at 45.7% as a freshman before being limited by an injury last season.

Dec. 28 – Jamari Blackmon, North Alabama: UNA’s top returning scorer (10.0 ppg) from last season became the first player in the program’s Division I history to reach 1,000 career points. Also led the team in assists (2.2) and steals (0.83).

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