College basketball recruiting: Gonzaga lands grad transfer Geno Crandall to solidify Final Four chances

College basketball's own "free agency" period is heating up.

Recent movement with transfers and NBA Draft decisions are why Kansas and Kentucky find themselves in position to vie for No. 1 in the preseason polls. And Thursday, another team with Final Four expectations -- Gonzaga -- improved its roster by adding a notable player. 

Geno Crandall was among the top-end mid-major players in the country in 2017-18, but after graduating from North Dakota, he made an even bigger name for himself as one of the best players on the immediately eligible transfer list. Crandall announced his commitment Thursday afternoon on Twitter.

While Crandall isn't a known name throughout most of college hoops, his pledge to the Bulldogs warrants some quick analysis, and potentially a shuffling of offseason rankings. Gonzaga's already bringing back a lot from a 32-win team (Rui Hachimura, Killian Tillie, Josh Perkins and Zach Norvell Jr.). Crandall could provide even more flexibility and skill for the backcourt. He averaged 16.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.1 steals last year for North Dakota.

Plus, he also almost led UND to a road upset over ... Gonzaga!

North Dakota lost 89-83 at the Kennel on Dec. 16. Crandall had a game-high 28 points. 

I love that Few watched this guy almost lead a bad North Dakota team (the Fighting Hawks went 12-20 last season) to a shocker in Spokane. And eight months later, he successfully recruits him to finish out his college career with Gonzaga. 

Crandall is a good 3-point shooter (41.4 percent, up from 35.9 percent as a sophomore). But Perkins, who had shoulder surgery in April, has the potential to be a top-20 player in college hoops. Crandall as his backup is great insurance for the Zags. What makes Crandall such a strong addition is his ability to play off the ball, too, and the 6-3 Perkins and 6-4 Crandall could share the court. 

With this roster refinement, Gonzaga's in contention for top-five status. GU's probably going to find its biggest competitor out west in Nevada. That's right: the West Coast Conference and the Mountain West could wind up having teams better than anyone in the Pac-12. 

Gonzaga's won at least 28 games and lost no more than three WCC games six years running. Crandall coming aboard should help Gonzaga push closer to a second Final Four in three years. 

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning senior writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. This is his 10th season reporting on college basketball for CBS. He also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics... Full Bio

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