How losing Killian Tillie for eight weeks with an ankle injury will impact No. 3 Gonzaga

Gonzaga big man Killian Tillie, the leading returning scorer for the preseason No. 3 team in America, will be out roughly eight weeks after undergoing surgery for a stress fracture in his ankle. 

Tillie re-aggravated a previous ankle injury during a fall practice that led to the revelation of a stress fracture following further imaging and testing.

As a sophomore last season, Tillie played a pivotal role in Gonzaga’s lethal offensive attack that ranked among the 15 best in adjusted efficiency, according to He averaged 12.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and hit on 47.9 percent of his 3-point attempts on the season, earning a preseason all-West Coast Conference selection.

Tillie’s recovery timeline may keep him out for the entire duration of nonconference play this fall, leaving the Bulldogs in a tough spot as they look to bolster their NCAA Tournament resume in the early going of the season. Unlike major conference programs, Gonzaga relies heavily on its nonconference schedule more so than other top programs because league play doesn’t provide ample opportunities to face other top-tier programs on a nightly basis. 

Marquee games against Texas A&M, Creighton, North Carolina and Tennessee in non-league play this fall without Tillie makes its already challenging slate even more difficult to maneuver for coach Mark Few.  

The absence of a player Tillie’s caliber would typically expose a team of a glaring weakness, but for Gonzaga it may only reveal its embarrassment of riches. Mark Few may opt to plug rising junior Rui Hachimura, a potential future first-rounder, in Tillie’s stead at power forward while he recovers. Freshman Filip Petrusev and redshirt junior Brandon Clarke may also get an uptick in opportunity as Tillie makes his way back.

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