Now that we are a month removed from the college basketball season, it is time to start focusing toward the NBA Draft. In the next few entries I will examine the draft prospects of the three Gonzaga players who have a chance to hear their names called in June: Josh Heytvelt, Jeremy Pargo, and Micah Downs.
Today we start with Heytvelt.
Heytvelt's Zag career was marred by ups and downs. His redshirt freshmen season was derailed early by a broken ankle that kept him out of 18 games. However, that injury was nothing compared to the adversity he faced in his sophomore year.
After getting off to a strong start, including a dominating performance over Tyler Hansbrough and North Carolina in the pre-season NIT, Heytvelt seemed poise to take over the void left by Adam Morrison.
That February though, Heytvelt and teammate Theo Davis were arrested on drug possession charges. That incident ended Heytvelt's season and effectively sent the Zags spiraling toward a first round loss against Indiana in the NCAA tournament.
Heytvelt's return was met with a lukewarm reaction by the team, with many reporting that he was effectively shunned from all team activities. Heytvelt pressed forward, stayed out of trouble, and won back the respect of his teammates. On the court, Heytvelt's 2007-2008 season was solid, though not spectacular.
In his senior year, Heytvelt was able to return to the form that earned him so much attention in his sophomore year. He became the leader of the team, and his presence was one of the key factors behind the Zags' trip to the Sweet 16.
As a potential pro prospect Heytvelt brings great athletic ability for his size; he is a quick and long defender who is able to challenge shots in the paint. However, Heytvelt does not have the body to bruise with some of the NBA's best big men, and is unlikely to ever be a strong inside presence on offense.
His lack of an inside game is somewhat compensated for his shooting range. Like most big men at Gonzaga, Heytvelt has exceptional range for his ability, and is able to consistently hit mid-range jumpers.
He is also a solid three point shooter, shooting over 40 percent from beyond the arc twice in his days in Spokane. Obviously, he will not be called upon to be a team's outside threat, but that ability should make him an even more attractive prospect.
Overall, Heytvelt is a decent pro prospect and has a chance.