Gonzaga Basketball: Top Storylines from Bulldogs' Offseason
Gonzaga basketball has been on hiatus following their elimination from the 2014 NCAA tournament, but the Bulldogs have a lot of momentum heading into next season after dispatching Oklahoma State in Round 2.
This offseason has been an exciting one.
It has been fun tracking all of the story lines led by the bevy of talented recruits and transfers entering the program this coming season.
With some new faces confirmed for arrival and some surprising, and not so surprising, departures announced, there is a lot going on for the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
Silas Melson Scores in Big Games
Silas Melson, an incoming freshman for the 'Zags out of Jefferson High School in Portland, Ore., had a great senior campaign that was highlighted by his play in two big games.
According to Jon Fuccillo of the Portland Tribune, Melson scored 40 points in the Northwest Shootout—a game between the premier high school basketball players from Washington and Oregon.
Melson also scored a game high 26 points in the Class 5A championship game. His scoring ability was showcased and his play this season has drawn comparisons to Gonzaga shooting guard Gary Bell Jr.
If Melson can live up to the Bell Jr. comparison, Gonzaga will be adding a very productive guard who could star for the Zags in the years to come.
After tracking Melson throughout his senior season, it would appear that he could be a very special player that could break into the rotation immediately.
Domantas Sabonis and Byron Wesley to the Zags
Domantas Sabonis, son of former Portland Trail Blazers center Arvydas Sabonis, committed to playing at Gonzaga this offseason.
Sabonis has been called an immediate difference maker, and Gonzaga could greatly use the depth he adds to the frontcourt.
Gonzaga followed up the Sabonis signing by adding transfer guard Byron Wesley, who led USC in scoring last season with 17.8 PPG. Wesley stands at 6’5”, and his height and scoring ability fill a hole that has been in Gonzaga’s rotation since Steven Gray graduated.
The late additions of Sabonis and Wesley, both of whom are eligible to play starting next season, will add depth and difference-making talent to an already skilled Gonzaga team.
Departures of Gerard Coleman and Lucas Meikle
Coleman came to Gonzaga with high expectations. His scoring ability and athleticism made him a star in the Big East at Providence, but he was unable to break into Mark Few’s rotation.
There is no doubt that Coleman is talented, but he was never a good fit for Gonzaga. I expect him to do very well for himself should he find a program in need of his talents.
Meikle, on the other hand, was an entirely unheralded prospect coming out of Tacoma, Wash. He averaged just four minutes per game, and his only true memorable moments on the court came in the Maui Invitational in just eight minutes of action.
Meikle played in the dilapidated Gonzaga frontcourt this past season, but he always seemed out of place as a power forward. My guess is that he will spend his redshirt season working on his athleticism and will find himself playing wing for his next team.
Offseason Recovery of Gary Bell Jr. and Kevin Pangos
Jim Meehan was also able to speak to Mark Few regarding the health of his beat-up backcourt.
Gary Bell Jr. had knee surgery this offseason to remove a loose body (fragments of cartilage or bone inside the knee joint), but instead they “found holes in the cartilage behind his knee cap”, which apparently is good news.
Bell Jr. plays harder than arguably any Bulldog, and it has taken a toll on his body over the past three seasons. He has broken his hand and has had multiple problems with his knees.
Bell Jr. could be heading towards a very special senior season if this surgery improves his health as it is expected to.
Kevin Pangos played through a lot of injuries this season. He had a bad case of turf toe for most of this year, and he sprained his ankle multiple times—including a rather severe sprain in the final game against Arizona.
The treatment of these nagging injuries is all the same: rest. Rest, however, was hard to come by during the season. But now, in the offseason, it appears Pangos is well on his way to being 100 percent come "Kraziness in the Kennel."