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The Zags have some fresh faces and a roster loaded with talent

click to enlarge The Kennel Club will have some new stars to cheer on. - RYAN SULLIVAN
  • Ryan Sullivan
  • The Kennel Club will have some new stars to cheer on.

Despite losing four starters from last season's Sweet Sixteen run, expectations for the No. 14-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs are, as usual, quite high. Thanks mostly to a slew of quality newcomers, this might be the most talent-laden roster Mark Few has had in his 18 years as head coach.

Gonzaga has become a destination for big-name transfers in recent years, and this season is no different. Point guard Nigel Williams-Goss (15.6 points, 5.9 assists per game in 2014-15), who spent his first two seasons with the Washington Huskies, is ready to go after a redshirt season. During the offseason, the Zags snatched shooting guard Jordan Mathews (13.5 ppg) from Cal. As a graduate transfer, Mathews is eligible to play this season.

Both Williams-Goss and Mathews are in the running for best in the nation at their position, as they were named to the preseason watch lists for the Bob Cousy and Jerry West awards, respectively. Sophomore Josh Perkins, who had an up-and-down 2015-16 season at the point, was charged in October with physical control of a vehicle while under the influence and is suspended for Friday's game against Utah Valley.

Then there is the freshman class, led by the most highly touted recruit in program history, McDonald's All-America center Zach Collins.

The returning players are no slouches, either. Both senior center Przemek Karnowski (8.8 points, 5.4 rebounds per game) and Perkins (10.1 ppg, 4.1 apg) were named to the preseason all-West Coast Conference team.

With big-name teams including Arizona, Washington and San Diego State on the Zags' non-conference schedule, the road to a 19th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance will be as rough as ever. And don't overlook WCC archrival Saint Mary's, which landed just three spots back of the Zags in the preseason AP poll. ♦

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