Cal State Northridge guard Terrell Gomez verbally committed to San Diego State on April 7, which was important for two reasons. First, and most obviously, the grad transfer’s commitment ensures the Aztecs won’t take too much of a step back after losing KJ Feagin, Yanni Wetzell and potentially junior guard Malachi Flynn from last season’s 30-2 team.
Secondly, and in a broader sense, Gomez is the latest West Coast guard to transfer to San Diego State under Brian Dutcher, who has had an enviable string of success with the transfer market.
Over the past three seasons, players like Devin Watson (San Francisco), Malachi Flynn (Washington State) and KJ Feagin (Santa Clara) have suited up for the Aztecs. All three earned All-MWC honors. While that trio experienced success to varying degrees — not everyone can have highly decorated seasons like Flynn did this year — the trio set a precedent that San Diego State could be a premier destination for guard transfers.
Now it’s up to Gomez to live up to those expectations. Thankfully for SDSU fans, Gomez has the skillset and abilities to make Dutcher go four-for-four with transfer guards.
Here’s what he brings to the table.
As if SDSU didn’t need another three-point threat, Gomez was not only one of the best shooters in the nation last season, but also made the most career threes in Cal State Northridge’s Division I history. From purely a shooting perspective, the Aztecs struck gold with Gomez.
In his junior season, Gomez’s 1.11 PPP tied for fourth amongst high-volume scorers, per Synergy Sports — a mark better than Luka Garza, Vernon Carey and Yoeli Childs, to name a few. His 634 points led the Big West and he could have finished with more, save for sports getting cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns.
But last season wasn’t a fluke: Gomez has shot better than 40% from distance in all three seasons while averaging at least 4.7 threes per game. Most of them were from NBA range:
As a junior, Gomez went 111-252 (44.2%) from three, breaking the program’s single-season three-point record he set as a sophomore. Believe it or not, only McNeese State’s Dru Kuxhausen took more shots and was more accurate. Take a gander at the following chart; quite a few big-time players took more threes and weren’t as accurate as he was:
|1||Jhivvan Jackson||Texas-San Antonio||121||342||.354|
|3||Antoine Davis||Detroit Mercy||101||312||.324|
|5||Makale Foreman||Stony Brook||104||289||.360|
|9||Andrew Robinson||Coppin State||91||275||.331|
|10||Dru Kuxhausen||McNeese State||125||273||.458|
|14||Keaton Wallace||Texas-San Antonio||92||262||.351|
|15||Myles Powell||Seton Hall||79||258||.306|
|16||Josh Williams||Robert Morris||106||254||.417|
|17||Terell Gomez||Cal State Northridge||111||252||.440|
|20||Jermaine Bishop||Norfolk State||98||248||.395|
It bears repeating that Gomez is walking onto a team that shot 37.9% from three last season, which was 11th in the nation. Somehow, Dutcher found one of the few guys who could be an upgrade over both Flynn — should he declare for the NBA Draft — (36.8%) and Feagin’s (38.1%) perimeter shooting.
Crafty shot creation
Getting to the rim isn’t a main feature of his game — in fact, only 16.3% of his shots were at the rim, per Hoop-Math — but a substantial part of this can be attributed to playing alongside high-volume interior scorer Lamine Diane. San Diego State presents a similar situation for the 5’8 guard: Playing alongside Nathan Mensah and bully ball aficionado Matt Mitchell allows Gomez to not be a slasher and focus on creating looks off the bounce.
His go-to move is creating space with two short, sharp crossovers, then hoisting a one-legged fadeaway, which doesn’t sound as risky and ill-advised as it really is:
Having another shot creator on the floor won’t make matters worse — after all, the last time San Diego State had multiple playmakers in the backcourt was with Feagin and Flynn last season. Better yet, defenses will have to respect Gomez because of his shooting ability, which will open up his teammates.
Versatile guard play
Despite standing 5’8 and being one of the highest-volume shooters in the sport, Gomez is not a true point guard. In fact, the moment he moved off the ball after his freshman year, his scoring spiked from 11.7 PPG to over 19 PPG, while his percentage of shots taken climbed from: 19.5% to 24.0%. So regardless of Flynn’s decision to return for his senior season, Gomez’s best position is the two-guard, but his experience and steadiness (he’s never averaged more than 2.1 turnovers per game) will make him invaluable in the unlikely event he runs the offense.
Luckily for San Diego State, Gomez will be just as effective as a two-guard. He’s excellent moving without the ball. Elusive and quick, Gomez takes advantage of his natural foot-speed and strength to create space through a myriad of screens. He has no problem getting his feet squared up in tight windows; Mountain West fans will find that his catch-and-shoot abilities are Jazz Johnson-esque.
He won’t have to run the show in San Diego. Gomez started his career playing alongside high-usage forward Tavrion Dawson, then ended his final two seasons in Northridge playing alongside Lamine Diane, who has been in the top-10 nationally in percentage of possessions and has never ranked lower than 11th in percentage of shots taken. And despite playing alongside two guys that always needed the ball in their hands, Gomez still won the Big West’s Freshman of the Year honors and was a two-time first-team all-conference selection. Playing for a (potentially) loaded SDSU team won’t be an issue.
In a vacuum, a high-scoring, 5’8 point guard from Cal State Northridge transferring up to San Diego State could cause some concerns, namely that his efficiency and effectiveness will decline while playing in the Mountain West. Upon further examination, however, these obstacles of being undersized, one-dimensional players from lesser programs aren’t as lofty as they appear.
In fact, Dutcher’s previous guard transfers had the same labels, but shed them once they played in an Aztec uniform. Devin Watson, KJ Feagin and even Malachi Flynn weren’t perfect players: Watson wasn’t known for his defensive prowess — in fact, he was more of a scorer. Flynn’s biggest knock on his game is being undersized, yet he came through in the biggest moments time and time again, all while becoming a better defender in the process. Above all else, it goes without saying that Watson, Flynn and Feagin came from worse programs than San Diego State — especially Flynn, who was a dozen games below .500 at Washington State before joining the Aztecs. Yet all three of them thrived in San Diego.
So in a sense, Gomez isn’t too different from his predecessors. In fact, the main difference between Gomez and Dutcher’s past West Coast guard transfers is that Gomez was one of the best in the nation at a specific skill. He comes in as the best three-point shooter in CSUN history and as a 1,637 point scorer, which are phenomenal no matter what program a transfer comes from.
And now he’s joining one of the best teams the sport has to offer.