O’Neil: Success of Nigel Williams-Goss at Gonzaga doesn’t look good for UW’s Lorenzo Romar

Jan 21, 2017, 2:38 PM | Updated: 10:39 pm

Former Husky guard Nigel Williams-Goss leads the undefeated Zags in points and assists per game. (A...

Former Husky guard Nigel Williams-Goss leads the undefeated Zags in points and assists per game. (AP)


The No. 4-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs are the last undefeated team left in college basketball, and it’s not hard when you look over their remaining schedule to believe they could continue to run the table into their annual trip to the NCAA Tournament.

One of the reasons why this version of the Zags is looking like one of the best teams Mark Few has ever assembled is the presence of talented point guard Nigel Williams-Goss. If you don’t follow Gonzaga closely but that name sounds familiar, there’s a reason – he was a key player for two seasons with Lorenzo Romar’s Washington Huskies but was part of a sizable exodus from the program after the 2014-15 season.

After sitting out last year due to transfer rules, Williams-Goss is enjoying quite the junior season with Gonzaga. He leads the team with 15 points and 4.8 assists per game, and the 6-foot-3 native of Oregon is also averaging six rebounds and 1.7 steals.

The emergence of Williams-Goss this year is reminiscent of another point guard who left Washington and became a star in Spokane – Dan Dickau, who transferred out of the UW program when Bob Bender was the head coach in 1999, then went on to two stellar seasons at Gonzaga and a seven-year career in the NBA.

“Nigel Williams-Goss is going to be what Dan Dickau was. Dan Dickau was recruited to Washington, he came there under Bender, he ended up transferring to Gonzaga and becoming a great player and a guy with an NBA career,” Danny O’Neil said on “Danny, Dave and Moore” Friday. “Mark Few’s done to (Williams-Goss) exactly what they did with Dickau, and now, Nigel Williams-Goss, that transfer is going to define Lorenzo Romar as much as the Dickau transfer did Bender. … You had that kid, you couldn’t make him into this, he had to go the other program in the state to make it that big.”

The fact that Williams-Goss is making a name for himself at a smaller school in the same state  (yet a more high-profile college basketball program) won’t help Romar in his case to keep his job, nor does the fact that the Zags own a convincing 98-71 win over Washington from earlier this season. Romar has been on the hot seat for a couple of years, as the Huskies haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2011 despite having several first-round NBA Draft picks come through during that time – something that looks likely to continue this year with star freshman Markelle Fultz.

O’Neil, a Washington fan, said that Williams-Goss’ play this season has changed his opinion from the days when he was rooting him on as a Husky.

“I thought he could be a good role player on a really good team, a good starter on a really good team, but I never thought he can be your best player. Totally wrong,” O’Neil said. “Nigel Williams-Goss is a great player for them, and seriously, all jokes aside, they’ve got a really, really good team.”

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O’Neil: Success of Nigel Williams-Goss at Gonzaga doesn’t look good for UW’s Lorenzo Romar