Gongaza has gained an international reputation for bringing in star young international players. And this year’s group of Zags is no different.
The trio of Killian Tillie, Rui Hachimura and Jacob Larsen have all arrived in Spokane with varying expectations.
heinnews got a chance to talk with Gonzaga’s assistant coach and international scouting guru Tommy Lloyd and get an update on the Zags’ trio from France, Japan and Denmark, respectively.
— David Hein (@heinnews) December 9, 2016
Killian Tillie – Has really helped us this season…and has probably exceeded expectations overall, especially since he didn’t play or practice last season because of a knee injury. He started out a little slow because he was a little rusty and physically weak. But, he really picked up in mid-October once he got some consistent practice time.
His feel for the game and instincts have really stood out. He’s been shooting the ball very well from the perimeter and his ability to make plays off the ball (offensive rebounds, defensive rotations etc) have made a significant impact on our team. We are really excited for his future…and feel with some additional strength, body mass and time spent polishing his skills that he will be an elite-level player before his Gonzaga career if finished.
Rui Hachimura – He has grown at least 1-inch and put on 20 lbs since he arrived in May. As a player, he is gaining valuable experience learning how to practice hard and play with intensity on a daily basis.
He’s had to kind of re-learn how to be a basketball player because in Japan growing up he was always the center of the game and everything was built around him. Here he’s had to learn how to move without the ball and play off his teammates. He’s learning how to do the little things that make the team game flow better.
He’s playing both the 3 and the 4 at the moment … but his long-term position will be at the 3. We are working with him daily on the skills that will be required to be a full-time perimeter player.
All that being said, Rui has made huge progress and we feel it’s only a matter of time until he makes his presence on the court felt consistently. We have big plans for Rui in the future … and are excited to watch him grow on a daily basis.
Jacob Larsen – Unfortunately, he suffered a season-ending knee injury in our fourth practice. But, we are very, very excited with what he brings to the table long-term.
In his four or five weeks we got to work with him, he showed tremendous growth and potential. He was a little rusty as well after having sat out last season, but his understanding of the game and unique skill-set were really starting to shine through before the injury.
He actually got injured on a drive from the top of the key where he tried to dunk on a crowd … but had an unfortunate landing. It’s our hope and belief that Jacob will be the next European Big from Gonzaga who is an elite player.