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Gonzaga-Texas matchup draws 18 NBA scouts to Spokane

UPDATED: Sat., Nov. 13, 2021

A scout for the Milwaukee Bucks hangs near the scorers table before the game with Texas , Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, in the McCarthey Athletic Center.  (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
A scout for the Milwaukee Bucks hangs near the scorers table before the game with Texas , Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

It was billed as the biggest nonconference matchup in college basketball, at least at this early juncture of the 2021-22 campaign, but No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 5 Texas served as much more than the first legitimate benchmark for two teams who hope to be playing on the final Monday of the college basketball season.

It was also a prime evaluation opportunity for NBA teams looking to do some early homework on Chet Holmgren, along with other GU and UT prospects who could have a chance to hear their names next July at the 2022 NBA Draft.

According to a Gonzaga spokesperson, 22 NBA scouts applied for a credential for Saturday’s top-five showdown at McCarthey Athletic Center. A total of 18 scouts had spots on media row, according to the official seating chart provided by Gonzaga. The Kennel drew a handful of scouts on Dec. 7, 2016, when the Bulldogs entertained a Washington team that included future No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz, but Saturday’s turnout is believed to be the largest in at least eight years, if not longer.

The teams who sent scouts to Spokane included the Chicago Bulls, Charlotte Hornets, Golden State Warriors, Toronto Raptors, San Antonio Spurs, Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Clippers, Utah Jazz, Indiana Pacers, Orlando Magic, Denver Nuggets, Milwaukee Bucks, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks. The Spurs had three chairs reserved, according to the seating chart. 

Up to this point, virtually every way-too-early mock draft has pegged either Holmgren or Duke freshman Paolo Banchero as the No. 1 pick in in the 2022 Draft. Holmgren stuffed the stat sheet in his college debut, scoring 14 points with 13 rebounds while matching a school-record seven blocks and dishing out six assists. Banchero, a Seattle native who was recruited by the Zags, has scored 40 points and grabbed 19 rebounds in his first two Duke games, both wins.

While Drew Timme hasn’t gained nearly as much NBA buzz as his frontcourt mate, Holmgren, the preseason national player of the year is widely projected to be a second-round draft pick. An ESPN mock draft released on Thursday had Timme as the No. 47 pick going to the New York Knicks. The same mock board included two Gonzaga guards: freshman Nolan Hickman (No. 28, Philadelphia) and senior Andrew Nembhard (No. 55, Detroit).

The Athletic’s most recent “Big Board” (top 100 players) included three players in tonight’s matchup: Holmgren at No. 2, Timme at No. 38 and Texas guard Marcus Carr at No. 96. Gonzaga freshman guard Hunter Sallis and Texas junior forward Tre Mitchell have also been named in various mock drafts.

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