Gonzaga announced Tuesday that big man Killian Tillie re-aggravated an ankle injury and tests show a stress fracture needing surgery. This is a big loss for the Zags, as Tillie was a prominent role on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball for the Bulldogs. Tillie came into this season after averaging 12.9 points per game as a sophomore for the Zags while shooting 58% from the field. He was named 2nd team All-WCC as a sophomore and looked to make even bigger strides as a junior this season.
A team ranked 3rd in the AP poll the Bulldogs have plenty of talent on hand to make up for the loss but may have a hard time in the non-conference. Gonzaga is scheduled to play six power conference games and possibly 13 overall before Tillie can step back on the court. Gonzaga will miss him the most during a four game stretch when they play at Creighton, home against #25 Washington, a neutral site game against #6 Tennessee in Phoenix, and travel to #8 North Carolina. Add Texas A&M, Illinois, and probable Summit League champ North Dakota State and the Zags will have a very difficult seven game stretch to start the season. Good news is that Gonzaga can rest Tillie and still make the NCAA tournament with him back for most likely all of the teams WCC games. Gonzaga may struggle with seeding depending on how this stretch goes but should still be a lock for the he NCAA tournament.
With Johnathan Williams graduated from the program it was already expected that Rui Hachimura would step up. Hachimura was voted ninth in the voting for AP preseason player of the year landing a spot on the preseason All-America 2nd team and was on the NCAAM Reviews preseason 3rd team. The star joined Tillie, Josh Perkins and Zach Norvell Jr. on the WCC preseason team. With four members earning this honor it doesn’t seem like the Bulldogs will suffer too much without Tillie but are still in a tough spot. Hachimura, Perkins (Bob Cousy award watch list player), and Norvell (Jerry West award watch list player) will all need to step up even more as the Zags look to remain in the top 5.