Julian Strawther indicated as much during a Zoom call last Friday, but the Gonzaga junior will keep his name in the NBA draft and focus on the next chapter of his basketball career.
Following a workout with the Golden State Warriors on Friday, Strawther told reporters he was “100% locked in” on the NBA. Stadium.com’s Jeff Goodman reported Tuesday the junior wing will keep his name in the draft rather than return to school for his senior season.
Players who’ve entered their name in the draft have until 8:59 p.m. Wednesday to withdraw .
Gonzaga’s Malachi Smith and Anton Watson haven’t revealed whether they’ll keep their names in the draft or return for a fifth college season. Steele Venters, the reigning Big Sky Player of the Year who transferred to Gonzaga from Eastern Washington, also tested draft waters but withdrew his name, according to CBS Sports insider Jon Rothstein.
Strawther has been floated as a potential late first-round pick, but the majority of mock drafts suggest the Las Vegas native will be selected in the second round on June 22.
After working out in San Francisco on Friday, Strawther noted the similarities between the system and culture Mark Few’s established at Gonzaga and that of the Warriors organization. Golden State coach Steve Kerr has a relationship with Few and selected him to serve as an assistant coach for the United States national basketball team for the 2023 FIBA World Cup and 2024 Olympics.
“Both just high-, high-powered offenses, lot of transition, lot of 3s,” Strawther said. “Coming from Gonzaga, I feel like there’s a lot of similarities. Even just playing the right way. Playing for your team and not for yourself, always making the extra pass. That’s something when you watch a Warriors game, all the guys are looking out for each other and just trying to play winning basketball.
“That’s kind of how we play at Gonzaga as well.”
Strawther didn’t say how many NBA teams he’s worked out for since declaring for the draft, but said his meetings with various organizations have been positive.
“Everything’s been good, I feel like I’ve had good interviews,” he said. “I’ve talked to my agent, talked to my family. Just keeping the circle tight.”
As more of a focal point in Few’s offense, Strawther averaged 15.2 points per game as a junior and improved his 3-point-shooting percentage to 40.6%. Averaging 31.2 minutes per game, Strawther also boosted his rebounding (6.3 rpg) and assist (1.3 apg) numbers as a junior while improving his free-throw percentage from 70% as a sophomore to 77% last season.
The Zags should have flexibility when it comes to players who could replace Strawther, an All-West Coast Conference first-team selection in 2022-23 who made late, go-ahead 3-pointers to help Gonzaga defeat BYU in the regular season and UCLA in the Sweet 16 in his hometown of Vegas.
After committing to Gonzaga in April, Venters told The Spokesman-Review the Bulldogs’ coaching staff envisioned him filling Strawther’s role as a score-first wing and 3-point shooter.
Venters averaged 15.3 points for the Eagles last season and is a 40% career 3-point shooter.
The Bulldogs also bring in 6-foot-6 four-star freshman Duty Stromer of Notre Dame High in Sherman Oaks, California, and 6-8 South Korean forward Jun Seok Yeok, who enrolled at Gonzaga in January and will have three years of eligibility.
Love chooses Arizona
North Carolina guard Caleb Love emerged as a potential transfer addition for Gonzaga last week, but the senior will spend next season with former Bulldogs assistant Tommy Lloyd and Arizona, he announced on his social media channels Tuesday.
Love, who’d previously committed to Michigan, reopened his recruitment and reportedly narrowed his list down to Arizona, Gonzaga and Texas.
According to 247Sports.com report from May 24, Gonzaga “emerged a bit over the course of the weekend”
Love averaged 16.7 points while shooting 37.8% from the field and 29.9% from the 3-point line for North Carolina, which failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament after a national championship appearance in 2022.