Proof Gonzaga is still Gonzaga is found not only Sunday when the Zags play for an eighth straight berth in a Sweet 16. Proof is at the end of the bench in a man named Jun Seok Yeo.

A future NBA draft pick from overseas waiting his turn to develop into a Zags All-American?

Gosh, Domantas Sabonis, Rui Hachimura and Ronny Turiaf think we’ve seen this movie before.

Jun — pronounced like the month — is a 6-foot-8 20-year-old from South Korea who’s a big deal over there and soon will be a big deal over here. Here, listen to TCU star Mike Miles Jr. when I asked him about Yeo, who was on Team Korea when Miles played with USA Basketball.

“He’s at Gonzaga? Wow! Yeah, I actually remember who you’re talking about. Man, he’s really good. He’s the only good player they had.

"We won by 50, but he gave us some buckets. We blew them out, but he’s good,” Miles said Friday night after No. 6 TCU set up a Round of 32 matchup with No. 3 Gonzaga in another jam-packed NCAA Tournament day at Ball Arena.

As the seas of change swallow up some programs and spit out other conferences, Gonzaga hums along, defying gravity in more ways than one. Seven straight Sweet 16s. Eighteen NCAA Tournament wins since 2017 (18-5) to lead the nation. One of two teams, along with Kansas, to win a game in 15 straight NCAA Tournaments. Greatest college athletics success story in history.

The irony of Gonzaga’s dreamy consistency over a quarter century is that the program has determined its own destiny and now the blueprint will be rewritten by forces the Zags can’t entirely control. There’s a whole lot of moving and shaking going on, whether it’s UCLA and USC to the Big Ten or Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC, and Gonzaga’s brand name makes it a coveted entity outside the West Coast Conference.

One Gonzaga administrator described their balancing act this way: Don’t lose your identity chasing the next hot thing, but don’t get left in the dust, either. The WCC’s on the table, though it did get noticed WCC commish Gloria Nevarez jumped for the Mountain West just as BYU was packing up for the Big 12. The Big 12, Big East and Pac-12 are on the table for the Zags, too.

No one knows, but the plates aren't done shifting. Factors from Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) to the Alston scholarship to the possibility ESPN goes straight-to-consumer will sway athletics. Whatever the destination, Gonzaga’s never lost its identity and shouldn't do so now.

“We’ve got to measure out all these opportunities that are out there and figure out what’s the best path moving forward to keep our program on the highest national level, which is where we’re at now,” coach Mark Few said.

Yeo, by the way, will debut next season as a sophomore at Gonzaga. And if the Big 12 or Gonzaga needs a spokesperson for a basketball union between the two, seek out Miles, the delightful personality who leads TCU against Gonzaga in the Round of 32 at Ball Arena.

“I think it would be great to have another blue-blood in the Big 12. That’s what they are. Obviously we’ve got Kansas,” Miles said. “Texas and OU are leaving, so why not bring Gonzaga over?”


Heartfelt stuff from Bobby Hurley, the former Duke star who once gave hope to every 5-foot-11 dreamer in America. The Arizona State coach said he had never scheduled a game on Dec. 12 due to it being the anniversary of a 1994 car accident that threatened his life and NBA career.

This season Hurley scheduled Creighton on Dec. 12 — after showing his team the “E60: Hurley” documentary with old news footage of the tragic crash, his car pancaked on a country road.

“It’s always a dark day for me,” Hurley said.

You either loved Duke or loathed Duke during its 1990s heyday. His players learned why.

“It was just funny because sometimes he gets mad at us for complaining about calls,” ASU’s Jamiya Neal said.

“For me it was his handle for sure,” Neal added. “I didn’t know coach had it on a string like that.”


Even the personalities are bigger in Texas.

Timme, the three-time Gonzaga All-American, and Miles, the TCU star, grew up in the Dallas area playing against each other. They still train in the summer together at Tim Martin’s shop.

“He’s Drew. He’s different. He’s hilarious,” Miles said. “Even on the court he cracks jokes on anything. I’m going to try not to laugh, but he’ll probably get me cracking up on one.”

Baylor-Creighton tips off at 5:10 pm. Gonzaga-TCU is set for 7:40 with the Texas pair on stage.

The matchup between old friends — one a 6-foot-9 savant in the paint, one a 6-foot-2 space rocket — would not have happened if not for NIL. Timme said he “probably” would've turned pro if not for the prospect of an NIL catalogue that now includes Pringle’s and a casino.

Oh, and Dollar Shave Club.

“It’s my biggest moneymaker!” Timme said, pointing toward his trademark ‘stache.


Colorado star of the week: Grand Canyon University’s student section

We’ll stick with the NCAA Tournament theme with a parting gift for the Lopes, whose students danced in one corner of Ball Arena and dished out trash talk so polite it almost stung worse.

“You’re going to be the best Shanghai Shark ever!”

“Learn Taiwanese, because that’s where you’re going to play!”

“Sir, that is a horrendous call! Sir!”


What’s On Tap

Here’s what’s coming this week in Denver Gazette sports:

Monday: ‘Coach Prime’ opens spring practice for the suddenly hip CU Buffs football program.

Tuesday: Danielle Allentuck checks in from Rockies spring training in our weekly MLB Insider.

Wednesday: Tyler King profiles Ed Lamb, hired in December as the coach of UNC football.

Thursday: Chris Schmaedeke’s weekly Golf Insider looks at two Coloradans at The Masters.

Friday: Kyle Fredrickson has complete coverage as the surging Avalanche host the Coyotes.


Just one question

Did the Avs retake pole position from the Nuggets as the most likely next title team in Denver?

(Contact Gazette sports columnist Paul Klee at [email protected] or on Twitter at @bypaulklee.)