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Gonzaga Basketball

Byron Scott, Ron Harper expect good things ahead for former Gonzaga stars Rui Hachimura, Chet Holmgren

Byron Scott and Ron Harper combined to play nearly 30 NBA seasons, so it’s hardly surprising they still keep a close eye on the league, even as they’re keeping an eye on where their golf ball is going.

Scott and Harper, who both carded scores in the 70s at the Showcase celebrity golf exhibition last weekend at the Coeur d’Alene Resort golf course, like what they’ve seen in former Gonzaga standouts Chet Holmgren and Rui Hachimura.

Scott has close connections with the Los Angeles Lakers, with three NBA titles as a player and then serving as head coach for two seasons (2015-16). He anticipates bigger and better things out of Hachimura, who helped the Lakers reach the Western Conference finals last season, and the team.

“He did a hell of a job last year,” Scott said on the practice green prior to Saturday’s round. “He’s going to continue to grow and get better as a basketball player. The Lakers are going to get better as a team this year. It’s going to be fun to watch the progress of all these young guys that they have. I’m looking forward to watching them this season.”

Hachimura, acquired in a trade with Washington in January, played in 16 playoff games with the Lakers after appearing in just five in three-plus seasons as a Wizard. He scored 29 points, a career best in the playoffs, in the first game of the Lakers’ first-round series against Memphis. Hachimura averaged 12.2 points on 58.7% shooting, including 48.7% on 3-pointers, and 88.2% at the free-throw line.

Hachimura’s only postseason start came in the Lakers’ last game. He logged 42 minutes and finished with 10 points and seven rebounds in a loss to Denver, which swept the series 4-0.

Oklahoma City’s Holmgren was impressive in the NBA Summer League for the second straight season, but he has yet to play in a regular-season game because he was sidelined last year with a foot injury.

“Let’s just hope he stays healthy first, let’s just take that part into consideration,” said Harper, a five-time NBA champion with the Lakers and Chicago Bulls. “He’s a very good kid. He plays very hard and it looks like he loves the game.

“He worked tremendously hard to get back to the game and it looks like he’ll have a good career playing on a very good young basketball team. I think they have a good coaching staff there, so it’ll be interesting to see how good that team becomes.”

Scott, who played with all-time greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal during his 11 seasons with the Lakers, said the 7-foot-1 Holmgren already is one of the most skilled bigs in the league.

“The sky is the limit for Chet,” Scott said. “Unfortunately, last year with his foot, he had to miss the entire season, but I think he has the right attitude coming into this year, understanding that he’s still kind of a rookie and he’s still learning.

“But I do think the sky is the limit for that guy.”