90°F
weather icon Drizzle

Liberty basketball star Julian Strawther commits to Gonzaga

Updated April 18, 2019 - 2:50 pm

Liberty junior wing Julian Strawther had some difficult conversations this month with basketball coaches from Marquette, Florida and UNLV.

He also had an exciting one about his future with Gonzaga coach Mark Few.

Strawther, a consensus four-star forward ranked by ESPN as the No. 36 prospect in his class, announced his commitment to the Bulldogs — who boast one of the country’s top programs — via Twitter on Thursday, ending an adventurous recruitment that began shortly after his eighth-grade year.

His commitment is nonbinding and won’t be official until he signs a national letter of intent in November, but he said he didn’t see the point in waiting to announce his decision.

Not when he knows exactly where he wants to be.

“It was a comfort thing. Not everything has to do with basketball … I’m going to school there,” said Strawther, who averaged 27.3 points and 8.8 rebounds last season for the Patriots. “(It’s about) just being comfortable, and I’m really close with everyone on the coaching staff.”

Strawther received his first two scholarship offers — from UNLV and Florida State — in 2016 and since has blossomed into one of the Class of 2020’s top recruits. The 6-foot-7-inch, 215-pounder is a natural scorer with prototypical size who can shoot from the perimeter or attack the basket.

Strawther accumulated more than 20 Division I offers. He announced 10 finalists in February and cut his list in recent weeks to Marquette, Florida, UNLV and Gonzaga, where he took an official visit in February.

The Bulldogs wowed him with their familial atmosphere and up-tempo style of play — they led the nation in scoring with 87.6 points per game this past season — and he committed to Few about two weeks ago before notifying coaches from other schools involved in his recruitment.

“The hardest phone calls I’ve ever made in my life,” Strawther said. “It’s so hard to turn them down because you want to go to every school.”

Strawther’s father, Lee, said he had hoped — at least a little bit — that his only son would stay in Las Vegas and play for the Rebels. But the program is in the midst of a rebuild under first-year coach T.J. Otzelberger and hasn’t reached the NCAA Tournament since 2013.

Gonzaga — with 20 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances — epitomizes stability.

“It’s a well-oiled machine, and we just got that sense and that feeling after we completed the visit,” said Lee Strawther, whose daughter, Paris, played for the UNLV women’s basketball team from 2015 to 2019. “We didn’t intend to do it this soon. It just happened. We’re going with our gut feeling … I feel good about it. Let the kid be happy.”

More preps: Follow at nevadapreps.com and @NevadaPreps on Twitter.

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Laimbeer to lead Team Wilson, Aces All-Stars after coaches traded

Las Vegas coach Bill Laimbeer was supposed to coach Team Delle Donne while Washington coach Mike Thibault was scheduled to coach Team Wilson. But the two made an informal agreement to switch ahead of the draft, and the rest of the league’s coaches backed it — prompting Delle Donne to propose the swap.

Las Vegas Aces ready to adjust without injured star A’ja Wilson

Laimbeer said Sunday after a 79-74 win over the Minnesota Lynx that they’ll likely predicate their offense more around ball movement without Wilson, who averages 15.8 points on 12.3 shots, 6.7 rebounds and commands considerable defensive attention as one of the WNBA’s most dominant post players.

 
Las Vegas Aces, without Wilson, hold off Minnesota Lynx

Liz Cambage had 22 points and 13 rebounds Sunday afternoon and Kayla McBride scored 20 to propel the Aces — sans injured All-Star A’ja Wilson — to a 79-74 win over the Minnesota Lynx at Mandalay Bay Events Center.