A GRIP ON SPORTS • The first day of June. Hard to believe it may be the most important day of the 2022-23 basketball season for Mark Few’s Gonzaga team.
• Today is deadline day for college basketball players. The day those who declared for, and joined the NBA draft process, to renounce their dalliance and return to school for another year. Or they’re gone.
It’s a deadline constructed by the NCAA when the organization decided to give players the freedom to explore their prospects. The date has moved some over the years but seems to have settled nicely on June’s first day.
The Zags, like a few schools around the nation, have players on the draft bubble. Those players have traveled, met with the NBA’s representatives and, in the case of GU’s Drew Timme and Julian Strawther, even attended the combine in Chicago. Now they must make a decision whether to take the next step or stay in Spokane another winter.
There were three when yesterday dawned, but senior guard Rasir Bolton announced he was taking advantage of the NCAA’s COVID-19 extra year of eligibility and staying for another season. The first domino of the offseason had fallen. Will it tip others Gonzaga’s way?
Strawther seems genuinely torn. As “experts” from around the country weighed in with pronouncements about the rising junior’s future, Strawther made fun of them on Twitter. As in, “everyone that ‘knows’ my decision, please tell me because i have no clue … y’all crack me up man.”
If he has no clue, then neither does anyone. We’ll guess, though. And we guess he will move on, though it would probably help to spend another year in college.
As for Timme, he spent one more year at Gonzaga than most thought at this time last spring. After leading the Zags to the NCAA title game, it seemed like the big man from Texas was headed out. But he returned. And had another stellar year, though, like many of his teammates, did not shine in the Arkansas NCAA loss.
His NBA flirtation seemed rather serious at the combine, as he did to the NBA hopefuls there what he did to many in his three seasons in Spokane: He made them look silly. Add in his better-than-expected long-range shooting and, after the combine ended, we were ready to go out to Northern Quest and put a quid or two on his leaving. If that was legal.
But it seems NBA scouts were not as impressed as us. His name began to drop in mock drafts – or just disappear. The folks that put those together aren’t conjuring them out of mid-air. They are talking to someone. And Timme’s stock seemed to be falling.
It may not matter, if you want to read the Twitter tea leaves. The aformentioned Northern Quest, which signed Timme to a NIL deal last November, seemed to be saying goodbye yesterday in a tweet from the NIL deal’s account, northernquest and drew_timme2.
It is all speculation, of course. Timme and Strawther have until 11:59 tonight to declare their intentions. Heck, by the time you read this, they may have already made their decisions. Stay or go? It’s not easy to decide, no matter the date.
WSU: We linked Jon Wilner’s rating of the football schedules in the Mercury News yesterday. We link it again today as it ran in the S-R. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and college sports, Jon has a recruiting roundup in the Mercury News. … Oregon will be just fine with Dan Lanning according to his old boss, who also rated the Ducks’ transfer quarterback. … Arizona is losing another player to the NBA, Dalen Terry. … Oregon State softball hit the gas at the right time this season. … Arizona has done it by the numbers. … In other sports, Arizona State will play for the men’s NCAA golf title today on a course of which the Sun Devils are familiar.
Gonzaga: We didn’t address this above, but Theo Lawson covers a visit today – perfect day for it, with the high expected to be 73 and nary a cloud in the sky – from Spanish prospect Baba Miller. … Jim Meehan has this story on Bolton’s decision. We linked the story above as well. … Jim also has a look at Chattanooga transfer Malachi Smith, who visited Gonzaga earlier this week. … Timme’s loss would be a big blow. … Around the WCC, rosters are in upheaval throughout the conference, including BYU.
EWU and Idaho: Around the Big Sky, Weber State has picked up a basketball transfer from Tennessee. … Northern Colorado is keeping a player who was thinking of leaving. … An injured player who missed all of the last football season will be back with Northern Arizona.
Preps: Eight all-GSL performers competed in a State all-star lacrosse game. That news leads off the S-R’s local briefs column from today.
Indians: Streaks are sort of a Northwest League mainstay. Spokane won a bunch of games and now has lost its last three. Dave Nichols has this story of the 4-3 loss in Vancouver.
Mariners: George Kirby picked up his first major league win. Though it comes with a caveat, as it came against Baltimore. Just kidding. Sort of. The M’s won 10-0 though Kyle Lewis sat out another day with a possible concussion.
Seahawks: More OTAs yesterday for the Hawks and we learned a little more about the defensive plan of new coordinator Clint Hurtt. … There are three new coaches in Seattle who are there learning their craft. … Tyler Lockett is learning how to fill the leadership void left with Russell Wilson’s departure.
Tennis: If you were wondering, Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic in their French Open quarterfinal Tuesday.
• Seriously, if Gonzaga wants to attract recruits from anywhere, including Spain, a day like today is when they need to bring them in. There is a little chill this morning but by the time the day gets going too deeply, the sun will have done its thing. And yet it won’t get too warm. Perfect. A great day to visit Costco. And spend a bunch of money. Until later …