by: Nicholas K. Geranios, The Associated Press Updated:
SPOKANE, Wash. - Nigel Williams-Goss, who led Gonzaga to its first appearance in the Final Four, said Tuesday that he will skip his senior season and declare for the NBA draft. He will hire an agent, precluding his return to Gonzaga.
The second team All-American led Gonzaga in scoring last year (16.8 points per game) as the top-seeded Zags advanced to the NCAA title game, where they lost to North Carolina.
The decision by Williams-Goss means that three of Gonzaga's five starters and a key contributor from last year are gone. The Zags are losing center Przemek Karnowski and guard Jordan Mathews to graduation, and backup center Zach Collins last week declared for the NBA, becoming Gonzaga's first one-and-done player.
Williams-Goss said he has achieved his goals of earning a college degree, improving his game and helping Gonzaga reach the Final Four.
The guard played his first two seasons at Washington, then sat out a year per NCAA rules before leading Gonzaga to a 37-2 record.
He was named West Coast Conference player of the year and newcomer of the year.
"Coming to Gonzaga is the best decision I ever made," said Williams-Goss, who is from Happy Valley, Oregon.
He is considered most likely to be a second-round pick or free agent.
In addition to leading the Zags in scoring, Williams-Goss averaged 6 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game. He shot nearly 87 percent from the free-throw line.
Williams-Goss reached double digits in scoring 32 times and was named to the all-tournament team at the Final Four.
He had a 3.84 GPA in psychology and had started work on a master's degree.
"What I was most surprised by this season was not the wins, awards or recognition, but rather the genuine love I felt with our fans in Spokane," Williams-Goss wrote on Instagram .
Two years ago I transferred to Gonzaga University with three main goals: earn my college degree, improve my game and help Gonzaga reach its first ever Final Four. I’m proud to say all three of my goals were met. In the classroom, I earned my degree in Psychology and have begun work on my Masters. On the court, my teammates and I made school history winning 37 games, advanced to the Final Four, and played in the National Championship game. Coming to Gonzaga is the best decision I ever made. What I was most surprised by this season was not the wins, awards, or recognition, but rather the genuine love I felt with our fans in Spokane. Since arriving, everywhere I went, I have been surrounded by love from the Gonzaga community. I cannot describe the incredible relationships I have formed in my time here and would not trade my experience for anything in the world. I could not be more grateful or humbled to call myself a Zag for life! After many discussions with my coaches and family, I have decided to enter the 2017 NBA Draft with representation. I am 100% confident in this decision and believe I am prepared both mentally and physically to take this step in my career and my life. As always, I give all glory to God for granting me this opportunity. I will continue to represent the entire Gonzaga community to the best of my ability. To all my teammates, coaches, fans, supporters, and believers…I love you and thank you! Forever and always... #GoZags
He said he was 100 percent confident in his decision to try for the NBA.
"I am prepared both mentally and physically to take this step in my career and my life," he wrote.
Guard Josh Perkins and forward Johnathan Williams are the sole returning starters for the Zags. Also back are veterans Silas Melson and Killian Tillie.
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