Well, who saw that coming? If you were as surprised by Silas Melson’s recently announced decision to redshirt his freshman season at Gonzaga as I was, then you were probably also hit with that same wave of disappointment that followed immediately after the news broke.
Last Monday, the Spokesman Review reported that Silas Melson, Oregon’s high school superstar and member of Gonzaga’s talented freshman class, will be sitting out his freshman campaign as a redshirt, leaving some more wiggle room for the rest of the Zags’ loaded backcourt. This decision comes as quite the surprise for Zag fans, as expectations were set that Melson would be an immediate contributor for the Bulldogs, likely coming off the bench for Gary Bell Jr.
The disappointing feeling that swept over me was not directed toward Silas, though. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. I believe that this is a genuinely smart move by the rookie shooting guard. The reason for my disappointment was that I was legitimately excited to watch Silas take the court this year; more so, being a senior at Gonzaga, this is my final year of attending games in the McCarthey Athletic Center (which is hard for me to even type because of how sad it makes me).
Anyways, a redshirt year will give Melson the time to train and develop himself with trainer Travis Knight, who restructured Kyle Wiltjer’s body/presence in the post and turned Kelly Olynyk into a starter in the NBA. The details of the work Silas will do with Knight is unknown in this early stage, and unlike Wiltjer and Olynyk, we don’t have any previous NCAA experience to compare Silas’ results to. Regardless, redshirt seasons have turned out well (to say the least) for players at Gonzaga in the past, and based off of Melson’s versatile skill set and relentless work ethic, we can expect to see some great results from a year off.
Even more, Mark Few already has a loaded backcourt: Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell Jr., and Byron Wesley will start for the Bulldogs, with Kyle Dranginis, Josh Perkins, Connor Griffin, and Eric McClellan (who becomes eligible in January) composing the Zags’ bench mob. While Melson would’ve still made plenty of contributions to this team, his absence won’t be earth-shattering for the Bulldogs; spending a year developing his game will really pay off for Mark Few’s team down the road.
Now that that’s all good and well, let’s make things interesting. With Silas sitting out the season, that leaves some more room for the other guys. And by other guys, I’m referring to Connor Griffin. It’s common knowledge that Kyle, Josh, and Eric will see plenty of time off the bench in the backcourt. But what would make all of those disappointing feelings suddenly vanish for me would be an increased role for Griffin on this Bulldogs squad.
After having walked on to the team in an open tryout, Connor Griffin’s story and style of play is very reminiscent to that of GU walk-on legend, Mike Hart. Though it’s doubtful that Griffin (or anyone) will have the same impact on the team that Hart had, I believe that he can still be a difference maker for the Zags. We’ve been given a very small sample size of what Connor is capable of, but based on the limited time he’s seen on the court, it’s already clear that he can serve a role on this squad. He hustles, he has great control on the floor and with the ball, he can defend, and he’s athletic.
And keep in mind, this display of sheer athleticism has only been exposed when there are two minutes left in a game and the Zags are blowing out their opponent. Imagine what this robust effort and drive would add to the team throughout a full-length game.
More from West Coast Convo
- Get Conference News, in the New FanSided Android App
- West Coast Convo Madness: Win $500 or an Apple TV from RetailMeNot and LockerDome
- FanSided Madness: Win $500 or an Apple TV from RetailMeNot and LockerDome
- Get Instant Conference News, in the New Sports Illustrated App
- Make sure a Conference fan is crowned Fan of the Year
Now, obviously, this may change once Eric McClellan becomes eligible to play in January, as the coaches seem to be putting a lot of trust in his game. McClellan’s eligibility will add another layer of versatility to this potent backcourt. But at least until January, Connor Griffin should start to see more time with the rock in his hands. And I, for one, am ecstatic to see what he brings to the table.
So yes, even though I’m quite sad that I won’t get to see Silas play in the Kennel as a student at Gonzaga, I think he made a mature decision to redshirt his freshman year. He will be a key player for the Zags down the road, but hopefully until then, Connor Griffin can prove to Mark Few and to the entire Gonzaga fan base that his profound athletic abilities and hustle on the court will make an impact for a team that is destined to make a statement in the NCAA.