Drew Timme isn’t all that active on social media, but it’s safe to assume he had Gonzaga fans and the college basketball world glued to their phones and/or computers Wednesday, scanning his accounts to learn his plans for next season.
It was worth the wait for GU followers.
Facing an 8:59 p.m. PST deadline to withdraw or remain in the NBA draft, Timme worked the shot clock down before posting “I’m back” on Twitter at 8:14. About 10 minutes later on Instagram, he posted several pictures of himself with the caption: “One Last Ride.”
Timme was the second-to-last player to announce his decision. Only UCLA’s Jules Bernard waited longer before announcing his intentions Wednesday night.
All five GU starters from last season declared for the draft. The Zags have known for a while Andrew Nembhard and Chet Holmgren, a probable top-three pick, were staying in the draft.
Gonzaga went 3 for 3 this week, welcoming the return of Rasir Bolton, Julian Strawther and Timme, one of the most popular and productive players in program history.
With Timme, Bolton and Strawther back in the fold, the Zags figure to be in the preseason top 10, possibly inside the top five, and among the national championship favorites heading into the 2022-23 season.
Timme, a two-time AP second-team All-American, has led the Zags in scoring each of the last two seasons and ranks 15th on the program’s all-time points list. He averaged 18.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and a career-best 2.8 assists last season as a junior.
He was the WCC player of the year last season and a finalist for the John Wooden player of the year award. Timme won the 2021 Karl Malone power forward of the year award and was a finalist for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar center of the year award as a junior.
The 6-foot-10, 235-pound Timme made substantial income last season from name, image and likeness (NIL) deals with at least two local businesses and three national companies. His earning power will almost certainly grow next season as one of the most recognizable players in college basketball and a leading candidate for player of the year honors on a highly ranked team.
Timme, though, flatly said months ago money wouldn’t be a factor in his considerations, noting that he would make the best decision for his situation.
Timme now has another season to try to elevate his draft stock and convince talent evaluators he can contribute on an NBA team. To do so, he’ll likely have to demonstrate he can defend smaller players in pick-and-rolls and stretch the floor at the offensive end in addition to his refined low-post scoring ability.
Timme appeared to slip recently in NBA mock drafts, despite strong scrimmage performances at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last month. He led his team in scoring (13 and 21 points) while connecting on 11 of 16 shots and grabbing nine boards in a pair of scrimmages. He showed off his extensive collection of post moves and connected on 4 of 5 3-pointers in his second scrimmage.
The Richardson, Texas, native was listed in the second round of numerous mock drafts in May, but not as many since the calendar turned to June. NBAdraft.net’s most recent mock draft has Timme as a late second-round selection by Portland, but he wasn’t in ESPN’s or SI.com’s two-round projections.
Timme is No. 63 on ESPN’s best available list. He’s No. 68 on Tankathon’s big board and No. 86 according to NBAdraftroom.com. He wasn’t listed in CBSsports.com’s top 75.
Timme’s return solidifies a frontcourt that includes senior Anton Watson, who averaged 7.3 points and 4.7 rebounds last season, and LSU transfer Efton Reid, who averaged 6.3 points in 34 starts.
Julian Strawther went to sleep Tuesday night still unsure of where he’d be playing basketball this fall. At 7 a.m. on Wednesday, the Gonzaga wing was jolted awake by a phone call from his agent. Strawther had multiple conversations with those in his inner circle, got the clarity he needed sometime around 7:30 a.m. and went public four hours later, waiting to reveal his announcement until he polished off a mango pineapple smoothie.
“Spokane let’s run it back,” Strawther posted on his Twitter and Instagram accounts.
On the heels of what he’d later call “definitely the hardest decision I ever had to make,” Strawther joined Rasir Bolton and became the second Gonzaga starter in as many days to announce his return to the Bulldogs in 2022-23, bolstering Mark Few’s backcourt and giving the Zags another piece that could be crucial toward a deep NCAA Tournament run next season.
“I feel like boulders are off my shoulders, man,” Strawther told The Spokesman-Review Wednesday afternoon. “… As soon as that decision was made this morning, just immediate relief.
“It really happened this morning at 7:30 and yeah, took as much time as I needed.”
College players had until 8:59 p.m. PT on Wednesday to withdraw their names from the NBA Draft. Strawther was transparent with his process, reaffirming to Gonzaga fans Tuesday night on social media he was still undecided despite various reports indicating he’d already made a decision.
“Everyone that ‘knows’ my decision, please tell me because I have no clue,” Strawther tweeted just shy of 9 p.m. “Y’all crack me up man.”