Gary Bell Jr. looks to lead Kentridge to another successful season. (Photo courtest of WaPrepSports.com)
For many years, Mark Few led his Gonzaga Bulldogs into battle with a roster chalk full of local high school stars. Guys like Richie Frahm, Matt Santangelo, Casey Calvary, and Dan Dickau were all local pacific northwest high school studs that, one way or another, wound up at Gonzaga. In recent years, the number of local Washington or Oregon players coming to Gonzaga has dwindled. Only three scholarship players, Steven Gray, Will Foster, and Andy Poling, hail from the Pacific Northwest. What this would typically suggest is that the quality of basketball has gone down in the area but that could not be any further from the truth. The Seattle/Tacoma area has become one of the hotbeds of college basketball recruiting in recent years. Portland has also consistently produced solid recruits and even some gems like Kyle Singler and Kevin Love. This year, the quality of basketball will be as high as ever in Seattle and Portland and you can bet that the eyes of the Gonzaga coaching staff will be on some of these players. We've covered a number of players during our time at TSSF and we definitely have our list of favorites but with every new year, there is a fresh crop of players to keep an eye on.
In the past few months, it has become clear that Gonzaga has little interest in adding someone in their 2010 class. With only two scholarships available after this season and loaded 2011 and 2012 classes, it is almost assumed that the Zags won't actively pursue anyone this cycle. Only one player still stands out to us at this point in 2010 and that is LaBradford Franklin, a guard from California. Franklin is an excellent scoring point guard and would be a nice addition to the squad. However, with G.J. Vilarino and Grant Gibbs showing glimpses as freshmen, you have to wonder if the guard position is really a need right now. With that being said, we are focusing on 2011 and beyond.
In this particular piece, we will be discussing high school players to watch in the state of Washington. Continue reading after the jump for an in-depth look at the best of the 2011 and 2012 classes.
Gary Bell Jr. -- Point Guard -- Kentridge High School
The Skinny: Gary Bell Jr. was probably the most underrated player in Washington prep hoops last year. After leading Kentridge in scoring a year ago, Bell took to the AAU landscape by storm with Seattle Rotary Select. He's only a junior this season but is already getting recognized as a legit player of the year candidate throughout the state. With Tony Wroten tearing his ACL playing football this year, Bell will get increased attention at Kentridge and will be expected to make a huge jump. At 6'1'', Bell already has a nice frame for a point guard but needs to add weight to play at the next level. He's got great basketball instincts however and will be one of the most exciting players to watch in Washington.
Recruiting Interest: Offers from Cal, Washington, and Gonzaga. Has been quoted as saying Cal and UW are his current favorites. Mostly all of the Pac-10 is showing interest.
Live in the Seattle area? Here is a link to Gary's schedule at Kentridge. Check him out and report back!
Christian Behrens -- Small Forward -- Tahoma High School
The Skinny: Christian is an interesting prospect. Standing at 6'8'' and a bit less than 200 pounds, Behrens is a low post forward right now that projects as a small forward in college. He's got the Gonzaga-typical big frame with not a lot of weight but is skilled and is a nice scorer. Behrens averaged 21 points a game last season at Tahoma, one of the worst 4A schools in the state. Like Gary Bell, Behrens played his AAU ball for Seattle Rotary which was one of the most talented teams in the country. Christian does most of his damage in the low post and will have to improve his outside game to be a success in the college ranks. I expect him to really blow up this season at Tahoma which may have another rough season.
Recruiting Interest: Christian hasn't had a whole lot of recruiting interest yet but is hearing from a number of Pac-10 schools and Gonzaga. A solid season at Tahoma and a more versatile skill set will net him a number of big offers.
Live in the Seattle area? Here is a link to Christian's schedule at Tahoma. Check him out and report back!
Brett Kingma -- Point Guard -- Jackson High School
The Skinny: Brett Kingma has been described as the best shooter in Washington in years maybe since former Washington star Ryan Appleby came out of high school. He's a very thin guard that stands at about 6'. Kingma and Gonzaga have been linked since his freshman year at Jackson and I would have sworn he was destined to be a Zag. With the recruitment of Gary Bell and the arrival of GJ Vilarino, it seems like Brett has faded to the back but we can never be sure. Everyone expected Kingma to blow up a year ago but he broke his arm early in the season after a hard foul as he went up for a layup. It's pretty easy to fall in love with Kingma's shot just by watching this highlight reel.
Recruiting Interest: At this point all we have really heard is interest from Gonzaga and Washington. But I'd expect teams like Portland, Portland State, Washington State all to have interest in Brett. A big junior year could go a long way. Shooters like him don't come around too often.
Live in the Seattle area? Here is a link to Brett's schedule at Jackson. Check him out and report back!
Anrio Adams -- Point Guard -- Franklin High School
The Skinny: Franklin High School has produced some of the best talent in the Seattle area for years. In recent years, guys like Venoy Overton and Peyton Siva have gone on from the school to play major roles in big time basketball. The next big time guard to come out of Franklin could be Mr. Anrio Adams. Adams, who came to Franklin and played varsity right away stands at about 6'2" but, obviously, is still very skinny. Along with his Franklin team, Anrio came to Gonzaga's team camp over the summer and got a chance to play against guys like Meech Goodson and Steven Gray and did a hell of a job. He's an extremely athletic guard with great length that has a knack for getting to the hoop. His shot will need improvement but Anrio should be an elite prospect very soon. Only a sophomore, look for Adams to make huge waves this year at Franklin.
Recruiting Interest: Only a sophomore, Anrio has flown under the radar and thus his recruitment is mostly local. That'll change soon after a good season at Franklin.
Live in the Seattle area? Here is a link to Anrio's schedule at Franklin. Check him out and report back!
Darien Nelson-Henry -- Center -- Lake Washington High School
The Skinny: I can't express enough how excited I am for 2011 and 2012. Looking at the list of players that are in the state and should have Gonzaga interest, I don't think their is really any need to look beyond the state for solid talent. Nelson-Henry is another example of the great young talent in the state. A full-bodied center that stands around 6'9'', Nelson-Henry has already started to get some huge comparisons. Guys like Kevin Love, JP Batista, and Cory Violette have all been referred to when discussing Darien. He's already got a great feel for the game as a center and he's only a sophomore. Ever since JP Batista left, I think most Gonzaga fans have had a desire for another big bodied, smooth center. Nelson-Henry fits this to a T but, like the other Washington prep studs, he's about to become a very hot commodity on the national scene.
Recruiting Interest: Was at Gonzaga's Kraziness in the Kennel and also has interest in Washington. 2012 is still a ways away so recruiting has still yet to materialize for Darien.
Live in the Seattle area? Here is a link to Darien's schedule at LW. Check him out and report back!
New faces are bound to pop up in the state this season and we'll always keep you up to date on anyone who could be a Zag. Obviously, there are a great number of prospects from the state of Oregon and elsewhere in the country and we'll have a post soon dedicated to those players. Hopefully some of our dedicated readers can get out and see some of these kids and others in the Seattle area. Like I said, there aren't many better places for high school hoops that Western Washington and while Mark Few has gone away from the area a bit in recent years, I'd wager that he is well aware of the outstanding young players in the Sea-Tac region.