Impact Of NBA Early Entry Date On College Basketball
Gonzaga has a one-and-done caliber incoming point guard in Jalen Suggs, and now it has a succession plan in place should he live up to that billing. The Zags on Tuesday added a commitment from Florida transfer point guard Andrew Nembhard, a traditional transfer who should be in line to take the starting job at point guard right away when he regains eligibility in 2021-2022.
Nembhard is a former five-star recruit who spent the last two seasons at Florida, where he made 67 starts in 67 games and averaged 9.5 points, 5.5 assists and 1.1 steals per game while hitting 32.7% of his 3-point attempts. He was one of the hottest commodities on this year’s transfer market not only because of his past production but also because of his pro potential, as CBS Sports’ David Cobb noted in his recent transfer rankings, where Nembhard was ranked No. 4.
After two years as a starter at Florida, the 6-5 guard became one of the hottest remaining commodities in the transfer portal when he announced on May 31 that he is leaving the Gators’ program. Nembhard averaged 11.8 points and 5.6 assists as a sophomore in the 2019-20 season. He could be an NBA-caliber prospect if he can improve his 3-point shooting.
Gonzaga has a strong history of developing players and of appropriately utilizing transfers who didn’t work out in other destinations. Its last high-profile transfer point guard was Nigel Williams-Goss, who transferred from Washington and led the Bulldogs to a 37-2 record in 2016-17, a season that ended in a national runner-up finish. More recently, high-flying big man Brandon Clarke transferred from San Jose State to Gonzaga, where he used Spokane as a launchpad to become a first-round pick.
The magic of 2016-17 may be rekindled again in 2020-21 with Gonzaga, with an offseason’s worth of momentum at its sails. Gary Parrish has Gonzaga at No. 1 in his Top 25 (and one) college basketball rankings ahead of next season, with the assumption that its draft-eligible underclassmen — Filip Petrusev, Corey Kispert and Joel Ayayi — opt to return for a run at an NCAA championship.