Rui Hachimura – Gonzaga, PF
The Gonzaga Bulldogs enter the NCAA tournament as the West region’s one-seed. The Bulldogs boast an impressive 30-3 record which includes a defining win early in the season against Duke.
However, a shocking loss in their last game against Saint Mary’s has sparked some questions regarding their status as a contender. Gonzaga’s championship aspirations will rest on the shoulders of their junior forward from Japan, Rui Hachimura.
Rui Hachimura is an all-around star, averaging 20.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while anchoring the Bulldogs’ defense. He is an extremely efficient player shooting over 60% from the field and has worked on adding a long-range shot to his arsenal this season. Hachimura’s numbers have dipped as of late but a strong performance in the NCAA tournament could lead to a quick rise in his NBA draft stock.
If Minnesota wants a versatile forward that can help on both sides of the ball, then they should look no further than Rui Hachimura. The biggest question surrounding Hachimura will be whether or not he can become a deep threat at the NBA level. If he can, Minnesota could use him as a stretch 4 or give him minutes at the 3 to provide defensive versatility next to Covington or Okogie.
Don’t be surprised if a hot stretch from beyond the arc in March moves Hachimura into the NBA draft’s top 10.
Other players to watch for on Gonzaga: Brandon Clarke
Opening game: vs. Fairleigh Dickinson/Prairie View A&M on Thursday at 6:27 pm CT