Basketball

Rui Hachimura wins Julius Erving Award

Staff Report

Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura was named the recipient of the Julius Erving Award as the best small forward in the nation at the College Basketball Awards on Friday night in Los Angeles.

The top honors went to Duke forward Zion Williamson, who won the John R. Wooden Award as the best men’s player in the nation, and Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu, who won the women’s Wooden Award.

Hachimura averaged 19.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game this season for the Bulldogs, who spent time at No. 1 in the rankings and reached the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament before falling to Texas Tech.

The 203-cm junior, who is expected to be selected in the first round of this summer’s NBA Draft, was named a First Team All American by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and was listed on the second team by AP.

Hachimura was also this season’s West Coast Conference Player of the Year.

Erving, the basketball legend and Hall of Famer known to many as “Dr. J,” presented the award during the show, which was televised by ESPN in the U.S.

“I’m just humbled to be here right now,” Hachimura said. “I’m so thankful to my coaches here today, and my family, and my teammates, and my junior high school coaches and everybody.”

Hachimura previously played for Meisei High School in Sendai and helped the school win three straight All-Japan High School Tournament titles before heading to Gonzaga.

He faced a tough transition early on in the U.S., as he adapted to the language and culture in addition to Division I basketball.

“It was very hard,” Hachimura said. “I didn’t speak any English and I didn’t know anything about U.S. culture and stuff. My teammates and coaches really helped me.”