Basketball fans around the country may still not know that Gonzaga University is nestled away in Spokane, Washington. And, they may not know how to properly pronounce Gonzaga or Spokane, but NCAA and NBA fans do know that the Zags have produced some NBA level talent and have been a force to be reckoned with come March.
Twenty-four Gonzaga players have now been drafted to play at the next level and eight of those NBA draftees have come in the last 10 years.
Gonzaga Forward Rui Hachimura made history this year.
Hachimura became the first Japanese player ever selected in the first round of the NBA Draft, when he was picked No. 9 overall to the Washington Wizards.
The son of a Japanese mother and a father from the West African nation of Benin, Hachimura's athleticism did not go unnoticed in his three years as a bulldog. The 21-year-old averaged 19.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists his junior year.
This year’s draft marked the first time in program history that the Zags produced two first-round picks with Hachimura and teammate Brandon Clarke.
Clarke started 36-of-37 games last season for the Bulldogs, averaging 16.9 points per game and 8.6 rebounds. He also became Gonzaga’s all-time leader for blocks in the season, with 117.
The Phoenix native was drafted 21st overall by Memphis, after the Grizzlies acquired the pick in a draft-night trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The last time a West Coast Conference team had a pair of first-round picks was back in 1978 when the San Francisco Dons’ James Hardy was selected 11th and Winford Boynes was taken at No. 13.
As for Gonzaga, the program has produced seven first-rounders overall.
GU has had two players selected in the same draft twice. The most recent draft was in 2017 with Trail Blazers lottery pick Zach Collins and second-rounder Nigel Williams-Goss.
Gonzaga’s Zach Norvell Jr. and Josh Perkins went undrafted this year. However, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Norvell will reportedly sign a 10-day contract with the Charlotte Hornets. While Perkins has reportedly agreed to a two-way contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, according to ESPN.