Mark Few’s Gonzaga Bulldogs lost a lot of talent. But never fear. As always, he retooled. Three high-impact transfers come in, and a program mainstay returns and other returners are sure to develop. Last year, Gonzaga got to yet another Elite Eight and coach Few surpassed 800 career wins (though it was the first season since 2018 that they didn’t reach a #1 ranking). Gonzaga is always going to be in contention, and this team is going to be no different.
Previous teams in my rankings can be seen here.
Preseason College Basketball Rankings: #10 Gonzaga Bulldogs
Program mainstay and Spokane native Anton Watson is back for a fifth and final season. After moving into a full-time starting role for the first time last season, he put up career numbers. He averaged over 11 points and six rebounds per game despite being in the same frontcourt as one of the best players in college basketball in Drew Timme. This team doesn’t have a ton of size, so Ben Gregg will be a key piece off the bench. Nolan Hickman was a very promising recruit coming out of high school two years ago. He showed some flashes last season, but he was still really inconsistent. Becoming more consistent would be huge for him and the team.
Steele Venters is the reigning Big Sky Player of the Year. The interesting thing about that is the Eastern Washington transfer was actually better the year before. He averaged 15.3 points and 2.8 rebounds per game last year and 16.7 points and 3.9 rebounds per game the year before. Those scoring averages were good for 10th in the conference last year and fifth the year before.
Graham Ike was excellent two seasons ago at Wyoming. He unfortunately missed all of last season due to a lower leg injury in his right leg. But Few says that he should be good to go for this season. During the 2021-22 season, Ike averaged 19.5 points and 9.6 rebounds per game for a Cowboys squad that earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The bruising big man was second in the Mountain West in both points and rebounds with those numbers.
Ryan Nembhard transfers in from Creighton to take over point guard duties. He follows in the footsteps of his older brother, Andrew Nembhard, who also transferred to Gonzaga in 2020 and starred for the Bulldogs for two seasons. Ryan is just as good as his big brother was and should be a huge boost for a team that did suffer at times from inconsistencies at the guard spots last year.
C – Graham Ike (19.5 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.3 BPG at Wyoming in 2021-2022)
PF – Anton Watson (11.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.7 BPG)
SG – Steele Venters (15.3 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.4 BPG at Eastern Washington)
PG – Nolan Hickman (7.7 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.3 BPG)
PG – Ryan Nembhard (12.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 4.8 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.1 BPG at Creighton)