“You can’t teach height”. You hear it all the time in the basketball world. In football and baseball, upside has very little to do with your success in your sport. Those sports are based on what you can do now and if you can sustain that performance for a long period of time. In basketball, upside is huge. Teams take huge risks and spend lots of money based on what they think you will be able to do one day. Gonzaga is no different and has invested plenty of time and a scholarship in Will Foster. Will is every inch of 7’4’’ and 225 pounds soaking wet. Foster is now a junior for the Zags and has seen little action in his past two seasons. But as I said, you can’t teach height and that is a huge asset for Foster, we are just waiting for him to flip the switch and be a solid post presence for the Bulldogs. This appears to be his year to either make a leap or be a bench player for his tenure at Gonzaga. If that switch does get turned, Foster would provide many things for this version of the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
Strengths: When it comes to Foster, it is hard to ignore his height. He is 7’4’’ and in basketball that means a number of things. In the short spurts of time he has actually seen action, opponents have seen how hard it is to deal with someone that tall. He is able to alter shots just by standing in the lane. Especially in the WCC, where most of the centers and forwards are 6’8’’ to 6’10’’, Foster can really cause some difficulties. All of his strengths are obviously directly related to his stature. His best game of the year was Gonzaga’s biggest at home. He played only six minutes in the Bulldogs game against Washington State and was very efficient. In those six minutes he had three blocked shots. He has a relatively good feel for when to jump so that he avoids the foul but still blocks the shot and in the WSU game he really showed some outstanding ability to alter shots. He had two more blocks in his next action against Northern Colorado but the stint against WSU was outstanding and it was during a meaningful part of the game, something which Foster has not seen much of during his first two years here.
Room for Improvement: Most of Foster’s liabilities lay on the offensive side of the court. However, what afflicts Foster the most is his strength. If you have watched the last few years, you can tell that Foster has added some weight and muscle. However, this has not transitioned into basketball weight. He struggles getting position in the post and is easily moved from his spot because many post players in the WCC are shorter but very thick. This has hurt him on the offensive side of the game and is the reason why in his small amount of minutes, Foster has failed to average a point per game. One of the hardest parts of being that tall is dealing with your quickness and being comfortable in your own body. Foster struggles with lateral quickness and has not been effective getting to a spot and defending his man. This is the risk you take when you take a flyer on a project like Foster. Guys like him and Hasheem Thabeet go through growing pains on their way to the top. Foster’s offensive skill set has not developed the way the Zag community had hoped. He has yet to show really any sort of consistent post move to date. Each of his weaknesses is exactly what Mark Few and the staff knew they would have to deal with when they recruited Foster. Hopefully we see some strides as he enters his third year at Gonzaga.
Projected Role: This has to be the year where Will Foster makes significant strides. He seems to do well in the summer and during practice but has not been able to translate that to success on the court. With Kuso gone and Andy Poling expected to red shirt, Foster should be forced into a backup role. He will definitely be behind Heytvelt and Sacre in the rotation and if Ira and Austin have some time at power forward, Will may see very few minutes again. If Few decides to play Pargo and Matt at guard and Austin at the small forward, Foster will be in the rotation with Josh, Robert, and Ira. This means that he will likely see plenty of action. If Gonzaga is at their full potential, they need Foster to perform. Assuming Sacre develops, he would be joined by Josh at his natural position of power forward and we could have Jeremy and Matt at the guards and Austin on the wing. With Steven, Micah, Ira, and Will backing them up, this team would be formidable and very deep, and I haven’t even mentioned the freshmen yet.
Summer Assignment: Will Foster will never be 260 pounds during his time at Gonzaga; it’s hard to force a young man’s metabolism to work in reverse. He seems destined to remain at that 225-240 range. Weight room improvement is very important for Foster but with this being his third year, he needs to spend his time working out on the court. He needs to find a comfort level on the court before his time runs out. No longer can he be regarded as the player that everyone cheers for just because he gets in. He was recruited and given a scholarship by Mark Few and has got to start getting some consistent court time. For him to do this he needs to improve his quickness and develop some post moves. For all intents and purposes, it is put up or shut up time for Mr. Foster.