The much-anticipated news of Byron Wesley deciding on spending his fifth and final year of eligibility at Gonzaga, over Oklahoma State brings a large ceiling and even bigger expectations for the upcoming 2014-15 season.
The announcement was first reported by ESPN yesterday morning.
It has been said throughout his transfer process that he values playing and winning in his final year of eligibility—something Mark Few can oblige as the Bulldogs have gained a birth to the big dance every year for over a decade straight.
The offensively savvy scoring wing is a huge acquisition for the Zags.
A little bit of background on Wesley…
The guard/wing stands at 6’5″ and 210 pounds, and was a well accredited recruit from Etiwanda High School in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. where ESPN scouts graded him as a 91 out of 100. During his senior season Cali High Sports regarded the scorer and then USC commit as the number one recruit in the state.
It is safe to say that Wesley has ‘been around the block’ as in 2011-12 he started every single game as a freshman, leading the freshmen in the conference in minutes played and leading USC in rebounds. He valued defense and rebounding as two of his biggest strong-suits, but as he progressed, Wesley was increasingly relied upon for scoring in Kevin O’Neill’s program.
During Wesley’s senior season this past year, USC dealt with a coaching change due to the program becoming consistently dormant under O’Neill. The Trojans hired that year’s march madness sensation Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield and saw another lowly year as a program.
That was not the case for Wesley, as he took the reigns of the team. Subsequently after season’s end, he announced his free agency for his fifth year upon the completion of his degree at USC: as of last week, he narrowed the decision down to Oklahoma State and Gonzaga, both of which he had visited.
This past weekend, Wesley received his undergraduate degree in Social Sciences, canceling his visit with Pitt, and eventually choosing GU.
Second season head coach Andy Enfield now loses their top scorer and best returning player to GU. While talk of Wesley transferring has circulated since the end of the season, his discernment process has ended with the Zags handing what CBS writer Jeff Borzello claimed as “one of the best perimeter groups in the country,” per his twitter account.
Impact he will have on the Zags…
It is easy to assume that Wesley will start at the 3. It would take a hand of God in Kyle Dranginis or Angel Nunez’ game for the 6’5” wing not to start immediately. That being said, Wesley will still vie for the starting small forward position giving the Zags a lineup they did not posses last year: an athletic scoring wing.
Although USC has cemented itself at the gutter of the stout Pac-12 (2-16 this past season), Wesley was a vocal point in the program and would have been Enfield’s best returning player averaging 17.8 points, and 6.4 rebounds per game in 2013-14 in one of the nation’s best conferences.
Filling in the starting five for graduated guard David Stockton, Wesley adds another consistent scoring option, as GU at times desperately relied on Stockton for scoring–against Santa Clara, Pepperdine, and throughout the WCC tournament–which was by no means his strong suit.
Wesley sliding in the lineup will procure offensive firepower. Starting right next to Kentucky transfer forward Kyle Wiltjer, the two are set to compliment each other quite nicely on the floor both being able to put the ball in the hole (i.e. Wiltjer being more of a pure scorer and Wesley an all-around athlete). Senior guard Gary Bell Jr. will receive immediate help on the defensive end, as last year he was relied upon as the lone perimeter defender, which will benefit him on the offensive end.
All that being said, this news has Gonzaga fans salivating. Next season will certainly be a fun one.