With the losses of two NBA caliber players and energy guy Mike Hart, it is only natural that Gonzaga finds players to fill the void left on the court. While most of the gap will be filled by Dower and Karnowski, along with the increased focus on GU's excellent back court play, there will be a significant amount of minutes and impact that will need to come from new players if the Zags are going to continue to dominate the WCC.
While Gonzaga doesn't have a high impact freshman like Wiggins, it does have some new faces who will make significant contributions to the team this year.
The Little Known (but not so little) Freshman:
Rarely does a player commit to a high profile division I college basketball team with so little knowledge about who he is, but that is exactly what happened to Ryan Edwards. Baby-faced Edwards comes from a town of only 20,000 people in Northwest Montana and chose to play only High School ball instead of running the AAU circuit. Gonzaga surprised everyone, including Edwards, when they offered the big man a scholarship.
"Being from Montana you don't get a lot of exposure, so it's kind of hard to believe I'll be playing with a top 25 program," Edwards said. "I don't want to say it was an easy decision, but it wasn't too hard. They told me from the beginning the believe in me."Edwards was recruited for his excellent back to the basket game, deft footwork and great hands. So far at Gonzaga he has not disappointed. Early reports indicate that Edwards will not be redshirting and will have the opportunity to make an impact early on for the Zags.
In a recent exhibition game against Simon Fraser Edwards was 6-7 from the field for 13 points and 3 rebounds.
“I thought Ryan did a nice job finishing plays by the basket, he scored with both hands and he plugged the lane decent but not great,” coach Mark Few said. “He was like that the first week of practice and then he tailed off pretty considerably the last few weeks so it was nice to see. We need him to play some minutes.”While expectations for Edwards are low, most see him projected to play around 10 minutes a game depending on his progression and potential foul trouble of Karnowski and Dower. While the 7'1 big man needs to work on his rebounding and defending the ball screens, he will undoubtedly draw some fouls and score some points with his polished low post game this year.
The Impact Athlete:
WCC meet your Newcomer of the Year. Gerard Coleman. Gonzaga fans likely already know this name, and know that he has the potential to be a star. Before sitting out last year Coleman averaged 13.2 ppg and 5 rpg. His transfer from Providence was all about getting himself somewhere where he had the chance to win.
“He’s a gifted athlete, He’s got an incredible first step, good instincts for how to play. And he’s an outstanding finisher and rebounder for his size,” former Coach O’Neil said of Coleman. “He has extremely long arms and loves to play basketball. He’s in the gym all the time.”He went a cool 7-7 from the field in the game against Simon Fraser and just looked too fast and too long for the Clan. His ability to create his own shot and play solid defense will soon earn him minutes over Stockton, and he has the ability to start for this GU team.
Expectations for Coleman are high, and should be. This is not a Freshman coming in, this is a man who played two years in the Big East and sat out a transfer year learning the way Gonzaga plays. Expect Coleman to average over 12 ppg and be able to shut down the opposing teams player when GBJ needs a break.
“It was just great to be out there. I can’t even put it in words, especially when you love the game so much and, for a whole year, you’re not playing. I’m glad I’m back.”