Bob Huggins: Gonzaga in for 'awakening' if it joins Big 12

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins is not convinced that Gonzaga, a powerhouse in recent years, will sustain its success if it makes the move to the Big 12, one of America's premier leagues in men's college basketball.

ESPN's Pete Thamel reported Wednesday that Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark and Gonzaga athletic director Chris Standiford had met in Texas recently to discuss the possibility, which would make the Big 12 a league that would rival and likely surpass any other in men's basketball.

"I would think it would be a tremendous awakening for Gonzaga [to join the Big 12]," Huggins told reporters on Thursday.

Sources also told Thamel that both the Pac-12 and the Big East had "engaged with" Gonzaga as well, but the extent of those conversations is unknown.

Throughout its run as a men's college basketball standout over the past 20 years, Gonzaga has been slighted by Power 5 coaches who have openly questioned whether the program could duplicate that success in a major conference. Beginning with the 1999-2000 season, coach Mark Few has failed to win the West Coast Conference regular-season title -- or at least a share of it -- only twice (2000, '12), but the program has not won a national championship.

Gonzaga's supporters, however, counter with its consistency, its recent track record in the NCAA tournament and the number of NBA draft picks it has sent to the next level. Gonzaga has played in two of the past five national championship games. And since 2014, the program has not missed the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.

The school also has produced 11 first-round NBA draft picks under Few.

West Virginia has produced one first-round pick in the draft since 1968. But the Big 12 has been one of America's best leagues over the past decade, and two of its members, Baylor and Kansas, have claimed the past two national championships. The arrival of Houston in 2023 will only enhance the league's talent pool.

That gauntlet -- the Big 12's teams currently play every other team in the league twice during the conference schedule -- is one of the toughest slates in college basketball.

"To get in this league and play who we play day-after-day, I would think it would be a tremendous awakening," Huggins said about Gonzaga. "You don't get to make your own schedule in the Big 12."