Rasir Bolton is returning to Gonzaga with three objectives next season.
One, continue being a key contributor for the Zags. Two, continue making a difference in the community. And three, continue boosting his pro prospects.
Bolton announced Tuesday he’s returning to Gonzaga, using the COVID-19 waiver granted to all players from the 2020-21 season. He joined the Zags last season as a grad transfer from Iowa State.
Bolton’s return gives Gonzaga an experienced guard who can play on or off the ball following the departure of senior Andrew Nembhard.
Bolton, one of five GU starters to declare for the NBA draft, went through the predraft process before deciding to withdraw his name prior to Wednesday’s deadline.
“Really just felt like one more year would help me as far as my pro path and career, and just the love I have for Gonzaga and being able to run it back with my teammates,” Bolton said. “And trying to make something happen this season and go a little further than last season.”
Bolton averaged 11.2 points, 2.3 assists and 2.4 rebounds while starting all 32 games for GU, which lost to Arkansas in the Sweet 16. He led the Zags in made 3-pointers (64) and 3-point percentage (46.0) and was second among rotation players at 81.7% at the free-throw line.
He ranked ninth in West Coast Conference play with a 2.2 assist-to-turnover ratio. He was All-WCC honorable mention.
Bolton and a handful of draft prospects trained with Jordan Lawley in Irvine, California. Bolton had workouts with Brooklyn and Charlotte.
“I took the process seriously, but talking to coach (Mark Few) and going over what may be best for me moving forward, we kind of leaned toward coming back to school,” Bolton said. “The process was fun, working out and being around other guys going through the process and getting feedback. Just working hard, that’s the biggest thing I learned, and staying consistent.”
Gonzaga’s backcourt includes Bolton and sophomores Nolan Hickman, Hunter Sallis and Dominick Harris, the latter of whom was sidelined last season following foot surgery. Wing Julian Strawther hasn’t announced if he’s staying in the draft or returning to Gonzaga.
“I think we can be a special group, just from having a year already together and knowing each other and being able to build on that,” Bolton said of the guards.
Bolton was named to the Division I-AAA Athletic Directors Association Men’s Scholar-Athlete team with a 4.0 grade-point average as he worked toward his master’s in organizational leadership.
He also helped with numerous charitable causes in the Spokane community throughout the season.
“I wouldn’t say NIL was a big factor (in returning), but the community, I love Spokane,” Bolton said. “The community definitely shows a lot of love for the basketball team. I’m going to keep helping and giving back and improving the community wherever I can.”
Bolton said he doesn’t know Strawther’s or forward Drew Timme’s plans. Chet Holmgren, projected to be one of the top picks, and Nembhard stayed in the draft.
“It’s already May 31st?” Strawther tweeted Tuesday, minutes after Bolton’s announcement.