LAS VEGAS (AP) — Two nights after Julian Strawther exuberantly stormed through the tunnel at T-Mobile Arena following his 3-pointer from the March Madness logo that lifted Gonzaga past UCLA, his walk to the locker room Saturday night was somber.
Strawther and Drew Timme embraced one another, with towels draping their heads while tears welled their eyes, after the third-seeded Bulldogs were throttled by No. 4 seed Connecticut 82-54 in the West Region final.
It wasn’t the ending the pair envisioned to their final game together with the Zags.
“We love each other,” said Strawther, who finished with 11 points and six rebounds. “We had a lot of great moments on the court together and we were able to share this jersey. Being that it’s his last game in a Gonzaga jersey and that it’s the last time we share the court together, it was obviously a sour feeling.”
Strawther didn’t discuss his own future, but there’s a chance the Las Vegas native’s college career also came to an end in his hometown.
Strawther considered leaving for the NBA last season, but after attending the draft combine and doing private workouts for several teams, he announced he was returning to Gonzaga.
Now, after a stellar junior campaign that saw him average 15.2 points and 6.2 rebounds, Strawther is sure to be on the NBA radar again.
“I’ll definitely be thinking about that at a future time. It’s in the back of my mind right now,” said Strawther, who has been represented by the Los Angeles-based Wasserman agency since last summer. “It’s the last thing I’m thinking about. I’m just thinking about sharing this moment with me and my team.
“Just knowing that that specific group of guys will never share the court again, it’s just the worst feeling coming into this locker room and it’s dead silence. We’ve just been through so much together. We’ve been going at it since the summertime and just building up for these moments and when it all comes to an end so abruptly, it’s so quick. It just hurts.”
The athletic 6-foot-7 swingman has been projected as a late first-round or second-round pick in the draft.
“Unbelievably proud of him and his journey,” said Strawther’s father, Lee. “Three Sweet 16s, two Elite 8s, one Final Four and one championship game — not too many players get to say that. Proved he is a real player and an even better young man. He has a great future ahead of him and I’m proud to be his father.”