Rightful rulers: Zags are No. 1 again, and Josh Perkins is team's all-time assist leader

click to enlarge Josh Perkins - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo
Josh Perkins

The Zags are back to number one again, after a defective shoe sent Zion Williamson to the locker room and Duke helpless against a pesky good North Carolina team. It’s hard to imagine Gonzaga relinquishing the top spot in the voted poll unless someone else comes up and nabs the position with a high caliber win in their conference tournament.

The Zags sit No. 2 in KenPom rankings and number one in the NCAA’s NET rankings. Their KenPom adjusted efficiency margin (their expected margin of victory against an average Division I school) is higher than their 2017 tournament team. The Zags are on the verge of having a pod selection of first and second rounds in San Jose and regionals in Anaheim.

The week also saw Josh Perkins take his rightful spot as the all-time assist leader at GU, surpassing the usher of the now two-decade-long run of excellence of Matt Santangelo. The feat is impressive when you consider that Perkins is still averaging double digits in scoring for his career, and that he spent his sophomore season relegated to off-ball guard when Nigel Williams-Goss led the team to the national championship.

Perkins has incrementally improved his ball handling throughout his time at Gonzaga, more than doubling his assist per game total from that national championship run while maintaining a two-turnover-per-game average.

In college athletics, with the hype of the recruiting trail and knowing for the most part what your roster will look like every year, it’s difficult to not at times look ahead before the season is over. That process is easy when you look at the recruiting class that Gonzaga already solidified with Gonzaga Prep standout four-star Anton Watson, fellow four-star and Texas big man Drew Timme and four-star center Pavel Zakharov from Russia, along with sharpshooting Brock Ravet and Lithuanian Martynas Arlauskas.

But then something big happens. That was Saturday night, when before tip-off it was announced that the Zags landed Malian center Oumar “Baby Shaq” Ballo on-top of the bevy of 2019 talent. The nickname is apt when you consider the frame of a 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-6 wingspan that sits at 260 pounds at the age of 16.

Ballo will enroll this summer and be one of the youngest players in Division I basketball. He averaged 21 points and 17 rebounds in FIBA competition, the same organization that saw Rui Hachimura gain international attention.

Hamilton @ First Interstate Center for the Arts

Sun., May 22, 1 & 7 p.m.
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