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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Julian Strawther declares for NBA Draft, maintains option of returning to Gonzaga

UPDATED: Mon., April 18, 2022

Gonzaga sophomore wing Julian Strawther embraces Chet Holmgren after defeating Georgia State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on March 17 in Portland.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga sophomore wing Julian Strawther embraces Chet Holmgren after defeating Georgia State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on March 17 in Portland. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

Gonzaga’s Julian Strawther had a memorable Monday, declaring for the NBA draft while also celebrating his 20th birthday.

Strawther becomes the second Zag to enter the draft, joining forward Drew Timme. Strawther, like Timme, has NCAA-certified representation, meaning he can go through the draft process and retain the option of returning for his junior season.

“Playing in the NBA has been my dream for as long as I can remember,” Strawther wrote in a Twitter post. “After talking to my family and coaches, I have decided to declare for the 2022 NBA draft.”

Strawther had GU and NBA logos adjacent to his signature at the bottom of the post.

The 6-foot-7, 205-pound Strawther had a solid sophomore season stepping into the starting wing position that was occupied by All-American Corey Kispert in 2021. Strawther ranked fourth on the team in scoring at 11.8 points, second in made 3-pointers (54) and third in rebounding (5.4).

Strawther made nearly 50% of his shots, including 36.5% on 3-pointers. His 26 turnovers were the fewest among Gonzaga’s top six in minutes played.

In a survey of five two-round NBA mock drafts, Strawther appeared in one – Bleacher Report projects Strawther going No. 59 (second to last pick) to Portland – and he wasn’t mentioned by Sports Illustrated, NBAdraftroom.net, ESPN and Tankathon.

Strawther checked in at No. 32 on CBSsports.com’s big board. He’s No. 66 on Tankathon’s big board, just behind teammate Andrew Nembhard at No. 60 and Timme at No. 65.

Strawther scored a season-high 20 points against Duke in November and vs. BYU in January. He also had 19 points vs. BYU in Provo in February and reached double figures (11, 14 and 16 points) in all three meetings against Saint Mary’s.

He struggled beyond the 3-point arc (1 of 14) while scoring 20 points in three NCAA Tournament games. The Las Vegas native averaged 3.4 points and 7.6 minutes in 25 games as a freshman.

If Strawther stays in the draft – the deadline to withdraw is June 1 – the Zags’ options on the roster at the wing position include 6-5 rising sophomore Hunter Sallis and 6-3 guard Dominick Harris, who sat out last season after having foot surgery in October.

Sallis averaged 4.3 points and 2.0 rebounds in 13.6 minutes. Harris saw limited time in 2021, averaging 3.0 points in 7.2 minutes. He connected on 9 of 23 3-pointers (39.1%).

The Zags have been linked to numerous guards, wings and bigs in the transfer portal.

Gonzaga freshman Chet Holmgren, projected as a top three pick, hasn’t announced his plans, but most expect the 7-foot forward will declare for the draft. The deadline to declare is Sunday.

Gonzaga potentially could lose its starting unit and top five scorers from last season – Timme, Holmgren, Strawther, Nembhard and Rasir Bolton – to the pros. Nembhard and Bolton have an option to return using an extra COVID-19 season of eligibility, but Nembhard is listed as a second-round pick in numerous mock drafts.

It’s also possible the Zags could return the majority of the starting five, including Strawther and Timme if the pair decide to come back to school.

“To my Gonzaga family, I love you all,” Strawther wrote. “Whether it is teammates, coaches or support staff, you all have helped me grow, not only as a player but as a man as well.

“To Zag nation, thank you for welcoming me with open arms from the beginning. As soon as I committed to Gonzaga, the support from you all was unconditional. There is truly no place like Gonzaga.”

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