Gonzaga’s Drew Timme entered the Volkar Center before Thursday’s practice like he didn’t have a care in the world, fresh from a nap, hair a bit disheveled and gnawing on a sandwich.
Texas coach Chris Beard didn’t see it because he was about 1,600 miles away in Austin, but he probably wouldn’t have been surprised one bit after getting to know the fun-loving forward years ago during the recruiting process.
Beard, then the head coach at Texas Tech, and Gonzaga’s staff were among dozens of top programs from around the country that made their way to Timme’s hometown of Richardson.
“It was like the who’s who of college basketball in there every day at practice, so we’d always find some strategic times to go in there and see him,” Beard said. “A couple times we got him right before practice or right after, in between his classes and stuff. So we always laughed about that like, ‘Man you’re not going to remember all these coaches coming in here and seeing you,’ But we tried to make an impression on him.
“But Drew was fun to recruit because it wasn’t business-like. He’s got a great personality as you guys know as well as we do. He’s just a fun guy to talk to.”
Timme is an avid fan of the Dallas Cowboys and SMU, the latter of which is where his dad, Matt, played college basketball. Timme enjoyed a homecoming of sorts in his freshman season, along with Texas natives Admon Gilder and Ryan Woolridge, when the Zags pummeled Texas A&M 79-49 in College Station. The Zags’ Texas trio combined for 43 points in front of a large contingent of family and friends.
Timme torched No. 16 Virginia with 29 points in a 98-75 victory last December in Fort Worth.
Timme was fired up when the Zags were originally scheduled to visit Austin, but that game was erased by COVID-19. The return game of the two-game set will be in Austin next season, but having the fifth-ranked Longhorns visit No. 1 Gonzaga on Saturday still puts a smile on Timme’s face.
“It’s cool,” said the 6-foot-10 junior, whose family will be in attendance. “That’s the big state school back home and you’re either for them or against them. There’s no in between. It’s kind of like playing at GU, the same concept. It’s either you know GU and like GU or you hate them.
“I know a couple of their (players), I know that coaching staff really well. All those guys recruited me, so it’ll be fun to play (Texas), see them again and have some friendly trash talk between them and all the guys.”
Texas, under former coach Shaka Smart, made an unsuccessful run at Timme, who was No. 43 in 247sports’ composite rankings in the 2019 class.
“I just felt like I wasn’t recruited the best by them,” Timme said. “I kind of lost interest in them, but it’s a great school. I actually went down there this summer because I have a bunch of friends that go there.”
Timme, a key player off the bench as a freshman and a second-team AP All-American last year, is one of the nation’s top scorers and a strong candidate for player of the year.
“He’s a skilled guy, really good with pivots and fakes and pumps. He’s just good with his footwork, he’s creative, plays with great poise,” Beard said. “He’s always had a poise about him when he gets the ball, it’s like a young Kevin McHale.
“If you double him, he’s a passer. If you single cover him, he’s just really, really good.”
Beard’s defensive options on Timme include UMass transfer Tre Mitchell, Creighton transfer Christian Bishop and possibly Vanderbilt transfer Dylan Disu, who is recovering from a knee injury. The 6-9 Disu missed the season opener, but he’s been cleared to practice 5-on-5.
Timme starred against Creighton, scoring 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting in the Sweet 16 last March. Bishop (6-7) had 12 points in an 83-65 loss.
“They’re an old team, have a lot of veteran guys and they’re smart,” Timme said of the Longhorns. “… They’re going to come in here, not play around and they’re going to get after it, but that’s what we do. We like the challenge. We’re ready to get punched in the mouth and they better be ready, too. It’s going to be a fun brawl.”
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