It's not a prediction. It's not a hopeful statement. It's a fact. The 6'9" rising-junior power forward will make Gonzaga fans seemingly forget about their 7-foot center Robert Sacre as Mark Few will ride Dower to a new streak of conference titles. Gonzaga returns five of its top six scorers from last season's 26-win team, including super-sub Sam Dower.
Coming off the bench behind versatile forward Elias Harris and Sacre in the frontcourt, Dower, the lefty, was borderline dominant at times; in 11 outings where Dower was given 20+ minutes of playing time, he averaged 14 points and 6 rebounds, including career-highs of 20 points and 10 rebounds against Xavier last season.
At 250 pounds, Dower can be forceful on the inside, often finishing with a baby-hook shot over his right shoulder or a face-up short jump-shot. He's efficient and reliable, knocking down about 54 percent of his field-goal attempts and taking about 25 percent of his team's shots while he is on the floor. But despite his hulking size, Dower possesses a soft touch and range out to the 3-point line where he connected on 8-of-20 attempts as a sophomore.
Dower's one major weakness at this stage is his lack of aggressiveness at times and we are hoping that without Sacre stealing his minutes as a starter, Dower will rise to the occasion. His rebounding rates were okay, nothing great. His ability to get to the foul line should be a bit higher, although he attempted 73 free-throws over the course of the year and connected on 77 percent of them.
Saint Mary's guard Matthew Dellavedova may have the inside track at West Coast Conference Player of the Year, but Dower won't be far behind.