Gonzaga has verified that four out of the five starters from the previous season will be back for the 2024-25 season.

Gonzaga men’s basketball fans breathed a collective sigh of relief as the transfer portal officially closed on Wednesday night. Just before 9 p.m. PST on May 1, the deadline for all players to enter the portal, the Bulldogs’ social media team posted a photo of the team with the caption “We back.”

The image confirmed what many had anticipated — Mark Few is bringing back seven of his top eight scorers, including four starters, from last season’s Sweet 16 team. Additionally, Steele Venters, who missed the previous season due to a torn ACL, was pictured. Pepperdine transfer Michael Ajayi, expected to join the team next fall, was not included in the photo.

There were no last-minute transfers or declarations for the NBA Draft from Graham Ike, Ryan Nembhard, or Nolan Hickman. Ben Gregg and Braden Huff will complement Ike in the frontcourt, while Dusty Stromer and Jun Seok Yeo will vie for minutes on the wing alongside Venters and Ajayi. Joe Few and walk-on Joaquim Aruz-Moore complete the 10-man squad.

Despite these returns, there is still room for additional players on the roster. With Anton Watson (graduation), Pavle Stosic, Luka Krajnovic, and walk-on Colby Brooks entering the transfer portal this offseason, Gonzaga has four open scholarships. Arkansas grad transfer Khalif Battle is set to visit this weekend, considering joining Gonzaga’s backcourt for the upcoming season.

With the majority of minutes from last season set to return, Gonzaga is in a strong position heading into the fall. The team is expected to retain 81.4% of its minutes played, the highest rate since the 2005-06 season. This is a notable achievement in today’s landscape of college basketball, where player movement is more prevalent.

Although continuity has become less crucial for winning national championships, Gonzaga’s return of experienced players, particularly at the point guard position, bodes well for their prospects. Having the same starting backcourt in consecutive seasons, with Ryan Nembhard and Nolan Hickman entering their second year together, provides stability and familiarity, a rare occurrence for the program in recent years.

Furthermore, Gonzaga returns three All-WCC players for the first time since the 2018-19 season, when they had a talented roster that included several future NBA players. While the future NBA prospects of the current team remain to be seen, the Zags boast the most experienced and talented group in recent memory, making them strong contenders for next year’s championship.

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