Two players from Gonzaga’s roster – and a handful of players the Bulldogs will face throughout the 2023-24 college basketball season – were named to the Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 watch list on Tuesday morning.
Transfer point guard Ryan Nembhard (Creighton) and transfer forward Graham Ike (Wyoming) were named to the watch list for the award given annually to the most outstanding player in college basketball.
Gonzaga was one of 10 schools with multiple players on the list. Creighton, Duke and Kansas each had three selections, and UConn, Gonzaga, Houston, Marquette, Miami, North Carolina and USC each had two.
Nembhard and Ike have received a variety of preseason accolades, both being named to the All-West Coast Conference preseason first team last month.
Nembhard was selected to the preseason Naismith Award watch list and made the watch list for the NABC Division I Player of the Year. On Monday, The Sporting News named Ike to its Preseason All-America Team.
In Friday’s season-opening win against Yale, Nembhard scored 16 points to go with seven assists and four rebounds. Ike scored 11 points, grabbed three rebounds and added three steals in less than 20 minutes on the floor.
Gonzaga’s trip to the Maui Invitational next week could pit the Bulldogs against multiple top-10 teams and a variety of players who joined Nembhard and Ike on the preseason Wooden list.
The Zags will open the tournament on Monday against Purdue and reigning Wooden Award recipient Zach Edey. Regardless of that result, Gonzaga will face another Wooden Award watch list selection in the second round: Tennessee’s Santiago Vescovi or Syracuse’s Judah Mintz.
In the third game, there’s a chance the Bulldogs will see Marquette’s Tyler Kolek and Kam Jones, UCLA’s Adem Bona or Kansas’ trio of Hunter Dickinson, Kevin McCullar Jr. and Dajuan Harris Jr.
In December, Gonzaga will face four more Wooden List nominees.
The Bulldogs will travel to Las Vegas on Dec. 2 for a neutral-site game against USC’s Isaiah Collier and Boogie Ellis before facing UConn’s Donovan Clingen and Tristen Newton on Dec. 15 in Seattle in a rematch of last year’s Elite Eight.
Justin Edwards, a freshman on the Kentucky team Gonzaga will visit in mid-February, also made the Wooden list.
The Zags will have at least two highly anticipated WCC showdowns with Saint Mary’s and guard Aidan Mahaney, who was named to the watch list for the first time in his career.