THE CHEAP SEATS with STEVE CAMERON: The point is, Zags need assist

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Everyone knows...

Gonzaga has been scrambling around, trying to reel in a quality point guard.

While that hunt has been on, apparently no one was paying close attention to the box marked: “Out.”

Thus, the field of available point players got even thinner last week when freshman Greg Foster Jr. announced that he’s entering the transfer portal — and is leaving Gonzaga.

Foster, an athletic 6-5 kid whose dad played seven seasons in the NBA, elected to play rather than redshirt during his first year on campus.

Surrounded by talent on a 33-win team, Foster Jr. rarely got on the court.

He managed just 129 minutes in 28 appearances and — for the record — scored 19 points.

Foster’s departure won’t exactly strip the Zags program right down to the wallpaper, but still...

Mark Few and his staff take great pride in helping young players improve, and Foster had some talent they might have molded.

He was a four-star recruit from Clark High in Las Vegas, a guy you assumed might really grow into something special.

IF YOU assume the Gonzaga staff didn’t consider Foster Jr. in their plans — note that there was no high-profile battle to change the young man’s mind about leaving — then they must feel confident about someone not yet on campus.

Or...

Perhaps they plan to give Joel Ayayi, the redshirt freshman from France, a real shot at serious playing time.

The only other point guards in the program this minute are Texas A&M grad transfer Admon Gilder (basically a combo guard) and freshman Brock Ravet, the kid from Kittitas High who broke the Washington state scoring record last season.

Despite all the points, Ravet handled the ball well and was a clever passer — albeit in a small-school environment.

Ravet also has looked right at home in postseason all-star games, so he might fit in at Gonzaga’s level.

However...

This is just a guess, but it wouldn’t be a shock if Ayayi got the chance to be Gonzaga’s point guard going forward.

Ayayi didn’t get many more minutes than Foster Jr. last season, but he was only 17 when he left the French sports institute INSEP and headed for Spokane.

That trek has been successful before, with Killian Tillie and former Zag Ronny Turiaf paving the way.

Ayayi is still growing, putting on weight to fit his expanding frame (his dad was a professional player in Europe at 6-foot-7).

One big upside with Ayayi is that he’s competed in top-level European games for French youth teams, and has always appeared a dominant player.

IN ANY case, the Zags are pretty darn thin at the point.

Grad transfer Derryck Thornton, who started at USC last season, has visited Boston College and Gonzaga and has said he’d like to see St. John’s before deciding where to finish his schooling.

Needless to say, the Zags would love to get him.

The only other experience they could call on at point guard would be Gilder, and he’s ticketed for the wing position where Zach Norvell Jr. was so successful the past two years.

Gilder’s size, skills and stats mirror those of Norvell Jr. to the point that it’s almost uncanny.

Still, somebody has to play the point, a position where Gonzaga has churned out one star after another — many unheralded when they first stepped on campus.

It’s interesting that the Zags have pursued guys like Thornton and Max Hazzard, a grad point guard from UC Irvine who ultimately chose Arizona.

Seeing that strategy, you might wonder if they hoped to have a veteran point for just one year, with the long-term answer waiting in the wings.

Ayayi?

Ravet?

Whatever the plan, it may be unveiled a year early.

***

Steve Cameron’s “Cheap Seats” columns for The Press appear on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Steve also contributes the “Zags Tracker” package on Gonzaga basketball once monthly during the offseason.

Email: scameron@cdapress.com

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