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Gonzaga Basketball

Colgate transfer Braeden Smith commits to Gonzaga, plans to redshirt in 2024-25

Braeden Smith of the Colgate Raiders drives to the basket against Tyrese Hunter of the Texas Longhorns during the first half in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena on March 16, 2023 in Des Moines, Iowa.  (Getty Images)

One of the top midmajor guards still available in the transfer portal has elected to continue his career at Gonzaga, but it could be a full year before fans see him on the court with the Bulldogs.

Braeden Smith, a Seattle native who’s coming off Patriot League Player of the Year honors and back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances at Colgate, committed to the Zags on Friday just days after finishing up an official visit to Spokane.

The Spokesman-Review reported last week that Smith, a 6-foot, 180-pound point guard, was open to the idea of a redshirt season if he did transfer to Gonzaga. The Bulldogs are set at the point guard spot, returning All-West Coast Conference first-team selection Ryan Nembhard, a senior who set the school record for assists in a single season (243) during his first year with the program.

ESPN’s Jeff Borzello confirmed Friday that Smith plans to redshirt in 2024-25, conceivably giving him two years as Gonzaga’s starting point guard beginning in 2025-26.

Smith, who played high school basketball at Seattle Prep, heard from a number of high-major programs upon entering the transfer portal but was focused on four schools – Gonzaga, Cal, Washington and Davidson – toward the end of his recruiting process.

He joins a loaded Gonzaga transfer class that also includes Pepperdine wing Michael Ajayi, Arkansas guard Khalif Battle and Tarleton State forward Emmanuel Innocenti. Ajayi is testing NBA draft waters and hasn’t announced whether he’ll pursue a pro career or return to college next season.

Smith played and started in all 70 games for Colgate over the past two seasons, leading the Raiders to back-to-back Patriot League Tournament championships and NCAA Tournament appearances. Colgate went 51-19 in those games with a 33-3 record in Patriot League play.

The point guard led the conference in assists last season at 5.6 per game and tied for the lead in steals at 1.9 per game. Smith also finished top 10 in points at 12.5 and top 15 in rebounding at 5.5 per game.

While averaging 30.3 minutes per game as a sophomore, Smith made 39.3% from the field, 31.1% on 3-pointers and 78.6% from the free-throw line. During the 2022-23 season, he shot 48.1% from the field and 36.3% from 3-point range with roughly two fewer shot attempts per game.

During an opening-round NCAA Tournament game against third-seeded Baylor, Smith scored 10 points on 3-of-8 shooting from the field and 2 of 5 from the 3-point line in 92-67 loss. A Big 12 school also ended Colgate’s NCAA Tournament in the first round the year prior, as Smith scored six points with four rebounds in an 81-61 loss to second-seeded Texas.

Smith was a finalist for National Freshman of the Year honors following the 2022-23 season and won Patriot League Rookie of the Week honors four times before being named to the conference’s all-rookie team.

At Seattle Prep, Smith was a two-time Metro League Athlete of the Year, scoring 1,403 career points and setting program records for assists (502) and steals (210). Smith averaged 18.5 points, seven assists and 2.5 steals during senior year. He also starred for Prep’s football team, earning first-team All-Metro League League honors at quarterback in 2022 and all-league honors at wide receiver in 2021.

With the addition of Smith, Gonzaga has only one remaining scholarship available if Ajayi chooses to withdraw his name from the NBA draft. The Bulldogs are bringing back four of their five starters from last season – Nembhard, Nolan Hickman, Graham Ike and Ben Gregg – along with three players who saw minutes off the bench in Dusty Stromer, Braden Huff and Jun Seok Yeo.