This offseason has been anything but ordinary for Mark Few and the Gonzaga Bulldogs. We've had multiple transfers, three 2010 commitments, the commitment of Gary Bell in 2011, and a plethora of other headlines. Specifically in terms of recruiting, we've learned to expect the unexpected. There's never a dull moment and it seems like every week there is an article or tweet saying GU is showing interest in someone new or...has flown across the pond to sign someone. Throughout this time, Max and I have been maintaining that, although this offseason in recruiting has been complex, the future should be simple and straightforward. We believe this because you have guys like Kyle Wiltjer, Landen Lucas, Darien Nelson-Henry, Kevin Pangos, Norman Powell and so on and so forth that seem to be immensely skilled with serious Gonzaga interest. Those two first guys I mentioned are, at least on my list, top priority players. Not only do they both hail from Oregon, but they are both skilled bigs that fit huge needs down the line for GU. For that reason, I was thrilled when I read this piece from Scout.com regarding the recent Rose City Showcase:
While Lucas' showing at the Rose City may have been a bit subpar, the rest of his summer has not been. By all accounts, he's still very raw on offense but has a tremendous motor and is a skilled defender and shot blocker. He's got offers from Arizona, the Oregons, the Washingtons, and USC to name a few so he's definitely worth the attention. Mark Few and Donny Daniels both visited Lucas recently so don't be surprised to see the staff put the full court press on another Oregon big man. If the Zags can strike gold and land fellow Oregon forward Kyle Wiltjer in the 2011 class, that will only increase Few's chances of locking up Landen.
The AAU slate definitely comes with its fair share of negative connotations. Many believe the circuit teaches prep stars the wrong things about the game of basketball and surrounds them with people that are less than ideal to guide them through this time. While there is validity to that statement; I'd have to argue that camps like tomorrow's NBPA Top 100 High School Camp is a fantastic idea for young people to grow in a number of ways. Here is an outstanding description of the camp from a recent Rivals.com article:
The Camp offers a unique and valuable curriculum designed to prepare players for competition and life at the next level. The training includes a sophisticated Skills Development Program, highlighted by its Mentoring, Personal Development and Education component. In addition, every camper participates in a series of group discussions and classes on topics ranging from stress management to sex education, to handling recruiting pressures, dressing for success, and other life-lesson subjects offered by expert trainers and counselors, as well as the NBA players.
With all the pitfalls that young people can fall into during this time; the event seems like a great idea and the talent there is insanely challenging so you know these kids are getting tested on the court as well. There are obviously 100 players in attendance and the one's we will be keeping an eye on are Kyle Wiltjer, Landen Lucas, and commit Gary Bell Jr. All three have been invited and will participate on the University of Virginia's campus.
It truly is a star-studded event with guys like Kevin Johnson, Myck Kabongo, DeAndre Daniels, Isaiah Austin, and so many others. Bell, Wiltjer, and Lucas will all easily be able to hold there own and should get some valuable experience. We also wouldn't mind if Gary did a little recruiting for GU while he's out there.
Keeping checking back throughout the week for updates on the NBPA camp as they roll in...