With school scheduled to start on the Gonzaga campus next week, it's time for our focus to turn to covering the 2009/2010 season. However, before we turn our full attention and coverage on this site to the first days of practice and a breakdown of the schedule (which we expect to be released in the next couple of weeks), we decided to take a final look at where recruiting stands as the coaching staff attempts to ensure the future of the program. Much to my excitement, and perhaps the frustration of some readers, it appears that there is no guarantee that the Zags will use a scholarship for the 2010 class. Although we do know of one scheduled official visit in September, Simi Fajemisin on the weekend of September 25th, he will be visiting without an offer. Therefore, it appears that the staff is saving up the available scholarships of Will, Matt, and then Steven the following year, for a potential high level transfer, as well as elite high school recruits for the class of 2011. While we have gone over some of the names in great detail over the Summer (Gary Bell and Kyle Wiltjer), there are a couple more names that we think everyone should become familiar with over the next year.
Class of 2011- The names you already know
Over the past four months, Gary Bell Jr and Kyle Wiltjer have received more ink on this website then any recruits I can remember in the past (except for perhaps Anthony Marshall). In Gary Bell Jr., you have an incredibly strong and heady guard, who can score from the PG position. Even more important, and the reason that he is such a good fit for the Gonzaga offense, Bell is a smart player with the basketball and knows how to push the tempo and make the correct decision in transition. The coaching staff made Bell a priority, as numerous reports from Las Vegas and other AAU tourneys mentioned Mark Few as a spectator at every one of his games. At this point, Bell holds offers from Gonzaga, Washington, and Cal, and it wouldn't surprise me to see more schools throw offers his way over the next six months. The other name that everyone on this site has grown familiar with is Kyle Wiltjer. At 6'9, Wiltjer has the skill set of a SG, but has shown the toughness to be effective both in the post and out on the perimeter. With his ability to score from the PF position, Wiltjer seems to be the ideal fit in the Gonzaga flex offense, and it's not hard to imagine him developing into a great scorer early in his college career. Gonzaga was one of the first schools to offer, and Arizona St., USC, Oregon, Oregon St., USF, and Santa Clara have also extended offers. However, schools like Kansas, Florida, and Arizona are currently evaluating, and could offer in the near future. The good news for Gonzaga fans is that Wiltjer has continually listed Gonzaga first when talking about schools of interest, but that could all change with an offer from the Jayhawks.
Class of 2011- Don't rule him out just yet
It's very rare for the Gonzaga coaching staff to offer a prospect during his sophomore year of high school. However, this was the case when Gonzaga began to recruit Nick Johnson. I know that we have previously written off Nick and the likelihood that he ends up in a Zag uniform, but I think we may have been ahead of ourselves in doing so. Gonzaga was a presence at Johnson's games throughout the summer, and has not backed off in recruiting Nick over the past year. Perhaps the best news in the recruitment of Nick is his transfer to Findlay Prep for his remaining two years of high school. Gonzaga has a good relationship with the Findlay coaches after the recruitment of Victor Rudd, and having Johnson leave the state of Arizona really opens up his recruitment. Equally important is the fact that Nick is the nephew of Dennis Johnson. Knowing that his uncle had tremendous success and made the NBA after attending Pepperdine may give Nick a clear indication that the highest level of success in basketball is achievable even if you don't attend a BCS school. With offers from Arizona, Arizona St., Ohio St., Oregon St., Pepperdine, and Virginia Tech, this will be a heated recruitment, but Nick Johnson is a name that we should keep our eyes on over the next year.
Class of 2011- An Introduction to Kyle Dranginis
Although he hasn't received much coverage from the main recruiting websites, Kyle Dranginis is very high on the Gonzaga radar. Dranginis, who hails from Nampa, Idaho, is a 6'4 combo guard that starred at the Gonzaga elite camp this summer. The one thing that immediately jumps out about Dranginis is the fact that he is a winner. Last season, Kyle led Skyview high school to the state championship and an undefeated 26-0 record. As a sophomore, Dranginis averaged 10.9 points, 5.4 assists, and 4.4 rebounds, which is tremendous evidence of the versatility that Dranginis brings to the court. During the AAU season, Dranginis played very well for Boise Flite, and caught the eye of Frank Burlison and other writers. At this point, I don't think Dranginis is the first option, but that could change if Johnson or Bell decide to commit elsewhere.
Class of 2012- Names to be familiar with for the future
I know it's early, and these names will change over the next year, but the coaching staff has already made some headway in the 2012 class. Two names that will certainly have one reader quite excited (talking to you mikesequim) are Landen Lucas (Sunset high school) and Darien Nelson-Henry (Lake Washington high school).
The nice thing about these two bigs is that they have games that contrast very well with each other. Lucas is a 6'8 PF who needs to put some weight on his frame over the next couple of years, but has tons of talent and was very impressive at the Gonzaga elite camp this past Summer.Here is a quick note about Lucas from Slam Online.
Landen Lucas | 6-8 | PF | Northwest Panthers | 2012
Though just finishing up his freshman year, Lucas played up on the 17-U age group of the tourney. Virtually every head coach in the Pac-10 stopped by to catch at least one game of this talented youngster. He’s tough, crazy long, and can even hit the short jumper facing the basket. High major programs across the country will be keeping a close eye on this rising soph for the years to come.
While Lucas needs to add some weight to his long frame, Nelson-Henry is already built like a college player. The two comparisons that I have seen most prominently for Nelson-Henry are Kevin Love, and then from some readers on this site, JP Batista. Nelson-Henry uses his body to create space from the defender and finishes well at the hoop. Gonzaga has already expressed interest in both, and I expect the staff to work hard to secure commitments before these two start to emerge on the national scene.
The two other names that have also been associated with Gonzaga at this point are Jordan Tebbutt and Anrio Adams. Tebbutt is already a national name, but it appears that the coaching staff has started to display heavy interest, along with schools like UCLA, Arizona St., Stanford, and WSU. Tebbutt is a physical freak, being that he is already built like a college athlete. However, the question remains what position he will play at the collegiate level. He has all the physical strength in the world, but he needs to continue to refine his game and establish himself as a SG/SF threat over the next couple of years. Adams is not a well-known recruit, but he was tremendous when Franklin came to the Gonzaga team camps this summer. At the camp, Adams was given the opportunity to play with some of the returning guys, and more than held his own despite only entering his sophomore year of high school. Adams played on the varsity at Franklin as a freshman, and his role should expand dramatically as a sophomore.