Sophomore center Ryan Edwards was in street clothes for Gonzaga’s exhibition win over Thompson Rivers on Saturday. His game-day attire will be similar for the rest of the season.
Edwards has opted to redshirt, meaning he can participate in practice but not games. He will be a sophomore when the 2015-16 season rolls around – a much-improved sophomore, coach Mark Few hopes.
“I was just challenging him, just don’t do it because it’s the easiest thing or out of convenience,” Few said. “You have to be selfish about it. You have to make it your passion, your purpose.”
Edwards played just 85 minutes in 17 appearances last season.
“It is a hard decision,” he said. “It was weird not suiting up for the first time since like third grade.”
Junior Przemek Karnowski and freshman Domas Sabonis should see the majority of minutes at center. Junior Kyle Wiltjer can move from power forward to center if necessary.
“I didn’t want to have another year where I play five minutes here, two minutes here,” said Edwards, who added that his status could change depending on injuries. “I want to have some steady playing time, which I couldn’t see getting this year because these guys need their minutes.”
The next 12 months provide the 7-foot-1, 294-pound Edwards an opportunity to work on his conditioning and skill development.
“I definitely want to slim down, cut down on my body fat, get stronger and more athletic and get in really good shape,” Edwards said. “I just want to work on pretty much my overall game, being dominant with my right- and left-handed hook, get my outside game a little stronger and definitely rebounding.”
Few noted that Edwards “has been really focused. He’s had some days in practice where he’s been unstoppable so it was a tough call.”
Few said no decision has been made regarding true freshmen Silas Melson and Bryan Alberts in Gonzaga’s crowded back court.
Senior Kevin Pangos has led the Zags in minutes played in each of his three seasons. He averaged a career-high 35 minutes last season and hasn’t missed a game in his career.
Senior Gary Bell Jr. has averaged 28.7 minutes and ranked second in minutes played in two of his three seasons. He missed six games last season with a broken hand but he’s played in 97 of 104 possible career games.
Senior wing Byron Wesley averaged 33.7 minutes in 94 games in his first three seasons at USC. Junior wing Kyle Dranginis, who is capable of playing multiple positions, averaged 24.2 minutes last season – highest among nonstarters. Walk-on Connor Griffin, who appeared in 15 games last season, is another option.
Freshman Josh Perkins appears to be the backup point guard. When Perkins enters, Pangos could shift to shooting guard, much the way he did with David Stockton on the court last season.
Vanderbilt transfer Eric McClellan becomes eligible in January and figures to become part of the rotation. He averaged a team-high 14.3 points in 12 games last season. He can play multiple guard positions.
If the guards/wings stay healthy and McClellan makes an impact as expected in January, playing time could be scarce for Melson and Alberts.
“I’m thinking about it,” the 6-5 Alberts said. “I have until the 14th to decide.”
Melson sat out the exhibition game after taking a hit to his head in practice earlier in the week.
Pangos on watch list for Cousy Award
Gonzaga senior guard Kevin Pangos was named to the Bob Cousy Award Watch List for the second straight season, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced.
Pangos averaged 14.4 points, 3.6 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game last season as a junior.
The list will be narrowed to down to 20 in early February.
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