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Gonzaga Basketball

Gonzaga adds defensive specialist with commitment from Tarleton State transfer Emmanuel Innocenti

Tarleton State’s Emmanuel Innocenti drives past Texas-Arlington’s Brandyn Talbot during the first half a Western Athletic Conference Tournament semifinal on March 15 in Las Vegas.  (Getty Images)

A versatile wing from the West Coast Conference, a veteran scorer from the Southeastern Conference and now a defensive ace from the Western Athletic Conference.

A productive offseason in the transfer portal continued Wednesday afternoon for Gonzaga, which landed a commitment from Tarleton State’s Emmanuel Innocenti.

Innocenti, a native of Italy who just finished up his freshman season at Tarleton State, becomes the latest addition to a talented transfer class that includes Pepperdine’s Michael Ajayi and Arkansas’ Khalif Battle.

The 6-foot-5 forward will have three years of eligibility remaining and would leave Gonzaga with two open scholarships if Ajayi withdraws his name from the NBA draft and returns to college.

With six of seven rotation players back from last year’s Sweet 16 team and now three transfer portal additions, Gonzaga’s composed a roster that many analysts expect to be one of the nation’s most talented in 2024-25.

The addition of Innocenti, a young forward who earned WAC All-Freshman and All-Defensive honors last season, further affirms why the Zags could also have one of the deeper rosters in college basketball.

Innocenti, who was raised in Bergamo, Italy, averaged 6.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.9 rebounds per game for Tarleton State, which posted a record of 25-10, finished second in the WAC regular-season standings and advanced to the semifinal round of the postseason College Insiders Tournament (CIT).

He finished the season shooting 40% from the field, 30% from the 3-point line and 80% from the free-throw line.

Innocenti, the only freshman on a WAC All-Defensive team that also featured four seniors, ranked fifth in the conference averaging 1.6 steals per game – a number that would’ve led Gonzaga’s roster in 2023-24, slightly edging Anton Watson (1.5 spg).

Innocenti started in 33 of 35 games for Tarleton State, playing 31.7 minutes per game and registering 1,109 minutes last season – the most for a freshman in Tarleton State’s Division I era.

He scored a season-high 19 points, shooting 7 of 12 from the field during a WAC regular-season game against Texas-Arlington, and posted a season-high 13 rebounds on two occasions during nonconference play.

Prior to Tarleton State, Innocenti played four seasons for Stella Azzurra Roma in Rome, scoring in double figures on three occasions during his last season with the Italian club.

Innocenti also has experience at the international level, representing his county at the U18 FIBA European Championships in 2022. He averaged 11.1 points and 7.1 rebounds while averaging 25.6 minutes in seven games at the competition.

Innocenti was born in Ivory Coast before moving to Italy at age 5 and briefly relocating to Senegal when he was 10 years old, according to a story from

The 19-year-old will call Spokane home for at least the 2024-25 season, joining a Gonzaga team that’s been projected in the top 10 of most way-too-early college basketball polls and rankings.

The Bulldogs should be particularly deep at the wing/forward positions, returning starter Ben Gregg along with Dusty Stromer, who alternated between the shooting guard and small forward positions during his freshman season.

GU also returns little-used reserve Jun Seok Yeo and Steele Venters, the former Eastern Washington sharpshooter who missed the 2023-24 season with an ACL injury. Ajayi, the WCC’s top scorer last year with Pepperdine, is also expected to compete for a starting role next year if he returns to school. The Kent, Washington, native is competing this week at the NBA draft combine in Chicago.

GU head coach Mark Few and his staff have reportedly been in contact with Braeden Smith, another talented midmajor transfer who was the Patriot League Player of the Year last season at Colgate. Smith, a Seattle native, is reportedly leaning toward Gonzaga, according to The Spokesman-Review’s Vince Grippi.