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Gonzaga elevates Zach Norvell Jr. to assistant coach, designates new role for Jorge Sanz

Zach Norvell Jr. smiles as he helps coach his former team during a college basketball practice on Thursday, March 16, 2023, before the Gonzaga Bulldogs’ NCAA basketball tournament matchup against the Grand Canyon Antelopes at Ball Arena in Denver, Colo.  (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

A new NCAA rule is allowing men’s and women’s college basketball program to employ five full-time assistant coaches this season.

With three assistants in place ahead of the 2023-24 college basketball season, Gonzaga coach Mark Few didn’t have to look far to round out his staff.

The Bulldogs elevated Zach Norvell Jr. to assistant coach and will also designate Jorge Sanz as an assistant coach, in addition to his duties as Gonzaga’s Director of Basketball Operations.

Norvell , a standout guard for Gonzaga from 2017-19, spent the past two seasons in a graduate assistant role and told The Spokesman-Review at the 2022 NCAA Tournament he’d consider professional playing options after recovering from knee surgery last fall.

Instead, the Chicago native who had multiple stints in the NBA and G League will return to Few’s bench in a full-time assistant capacity.

“I’m blessed and thankful for this opportunity to continue to build and grow our culture and program,” Norvell said in a school news release. “At the same time, learning from our coaching staff and help impact winning as much as possible.”

Sanz, the program’s director of basketball operations for the past five seasons, will remain in that position while also carrying new assistant coaching duties.

“I am extremely grateful for the level of trust coach Few has placed on me and the opportunity to further assist the program in this new role,” Sanz said. “I look forward to helping our student-athletes fulfill their highest potential, on and off the court.”

In early January, the NCAA’s Division I Council voted to eliminate the voluntary coach designation across Division I, supporting an increase of two coaches in men’s and women’s basketball.

Though introduced at the start of the calendar year, the new policies didn’t take effect until July 1.

Based on the NCAA’s language, Norvell and Sanz will be permitted to engage in coaching activities but won’t be allowed to recruit off-campus.

Along with Norvell and Sanz, Gonzaga’s coaching staff in 2023-24 will include 11th-year assistant Brian Michaelson and Stephen Gentry, who enters his third season with the school. Former Florida State and Boise State aide RJay Barsh was hired to replace outgoing assistant Roger Powell, who accepted the head coaching position at Valparaiso.

A former West Coast Conference Newcomer of the Year, Norvell made 174 3-pointers as a Gonzaga player. He scored 1,023 career points before leaving Spokane after his redshirt sophomore season. Norvell helped the Zags make the Elite Eight in 2018-19 while earning All-WCC first-team honors.

Sanz, a native of Zaragoza, Spain, was a member of the Spanish U-18 national team coaching staff this summer, helping his native country win a silver medal at the U-18 European Championships. Before coming to Gonzaga, Sanz worked in a variety of capacities for eight seasons at Florida Atlantic University, including assistant coach, director of basketball operations and video coordinator.