Nigel Williams-Goss fashions lead role for Gonzaga
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) Nigel Williams-Goss slid on black shoes below dark slacks and buttoned up a white collared shirt. He grabbed a bright blue Kenzo Paris sweater with a large eye logo on the chest and little eyes on the sleeves, and pulled it over his head.
A quick check of his hair and Williams-Goss was ready.
''I've always loved fashion and been into clothes, cared about what I'm wearing,'' he said. ''As I've gotten older, it's become a big part of my life.''
Big, but still No. 2 in the pecking order.
Basketball is Williams-Goss' top priority and could be well beyond Gonzaga's trip through the NCAA Tournament.
The junior point guard has the top-seed-in-the-West Zags in position for a deep run into the bracket and set himself up for a professional career once he's done in Spokane, Washington.
Williams-Goss leads Gonzaga (33-1) in points at 16.6 and assists with 4.8 per game. He also has a team-high 57 steals and is the team's top rebounding guard at 5.8.
In Gonzaga's NCAA Tournament opener, Williams-Goss shot just 4 for 13, but had four assists and just one turnover in the Zags' 66-46 win over South Dakota State on Thursday in Salt Lake City.
''The biggest thing is he's just a really good college player,'' Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. ''He just fills all the buckets. He can score when he has to, he can hit the deep 3, he can come off a ball screen, usually routinely defends the other team's best player, rebounds well for his size. And he's just a fantastic communicator - I'm trying to get my kids to talk as much as he does out there - and it makes such a difference to have a guy like that out there talking.''
Williams-Goss started his college career on the other side of the Evergreen State.
He grew up in the Pacific Northwest, but the family moved from Portland, Oregon, to Las Vegas so he could play at national high school powerhouse Findlay Prep. Williams-Goss was a highly touted recruit out of Findlay and decided to head back to the Pacific Northwest for college, opting to play for Lorenzo Romar at Washington.
Despite leading the Huskies in scoring and assists for two seasons, Williams-Goss decided to leave the program. Thoughtful and introspective, he did not take the decision lightly and took his time before making it.
The program just wasn't headed in the direction he had hoped and it was time for a change of scenery. After more internal deliberation, Williams-Goss decided Gonzaga was the best fit, so he made the move inland to Spokane.
''The plan they had for me for my redshirt year was unlike any other place I had been,'' he said. ''And just the fit, the mentality of the team, their preparation for games and practice, I felt like it was a great overall fit, along with the style of play and the pieces that were in place.''
Williams-Goss turned out to be a perfect match for Few's system and the blue-collar work ethic of Spokane.
Though blessed with blue chip talent, Williams-Goss works as if he needs every angle to be successful. He studies film not only before games, but of upcoming opponents and during the offseason. He doesn't just go out and shoot for the sake of shooting, he does it with specific drills and specific results in mind.
Despite Gonzaga's success, Few has stuck to the recruiting principles of limited resources in the early days of the program, signing players with high character who fit into his system. Williams-Goss fits that perfectly while adding a level of high-end talent to go with it.
''He's brought so much leadership, just a natural born leader,'' Few said. ''He's obviously been as good a leader as we've had here and we've had some good ones. He's also just brought some swag from the other places he's been.''
He also takes swag with him wherever he goes.
Williams-Goss doesn't just wear the latest fashion trends, he keeps up with them. He has friends who are majoring in fashion design and often gives them advice, and follows Fashion Week in both Paris and New York.
''It's been kind of cool to get into fashion and it's definitely going to keep going,'' he said. ''Obviously, if I was ever fortunate to go to the NBA, I would definitely do something.''
Williams-Goss hasn't decided if he will leave Gonzaga before his senior season just yet. Even if he does, he will have options.
More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25