With the class of 2015 still over two years away from signing with a potential school, only a few of the top prospects have started to receive recruiting interest and offers. However, one guy that has been on the radar for Gonzaga since the spring is Kendall Small of Huntington Beach, CA.
Small, who has grown up a Gonzaga fan, just wrapped up the AAU season with Dream Vision. His father, Don Small, who is also the head coach of his AAU team, came away impressed with the growth that Kendall displayed as a leader with his young team.
"He really took lead of his team this year," Don emphasized. "With the three different evaluation periods in July, he was able to stay healthy. In April, when the coaches were first able to see him, he was injured. This time, the coaches got to see him at 100%. He really took lead of this team and got his teammates to play hard through the summer."
While he was impressive throughout the AAU period, Small jumped on the national radar when he scored 37 points in a single game in Las Vegas. According to Don, his son had a little extra motivation that day.
"We have a big rivalry with the Compton Magic," Small said with a laugh. "He always has been that kind of player that plays big in these type games, and he took the game personal. There was some talk that the guard on the other team was better than him, and he wanted to show that the other guard wasn't even in his class."
Since he is just preparing to enter his sophomore year of high school, there are numerous areas that Don is still working with his son on to improve.
"I train him myself. We work on strength since that is going to really help him at the next level. We really work on speed and conditioning. Anyone that saw him in Vegas saw his shot is really improving. He hit 6/7 from behind the three-point line when he scored 37. His mid-range game is really what we have to keep working on. I don't see that ability much in today's AAU or high school game."
Being in the unique situation of having to act as both head coach and dad, Don admits that seeing Kendall have such success has been a gratifying experience.
"It's kind of hard to describe," admitted the Dream Vision head coach. "I have to be tough because I am his dad and his coach so I can't show most of the emotions. Inside, I am so proud and happy that he is doing everything he wants. It's a great feeling."
Not surprisingly, his play during July has earned Kendall lots of attention on recruiting trail. While no school can officially offer at this point, that hasn't stopped some big name schools from getting involved.
"We've had UConn come by and San Diego St. has jumped in," Don said of some of the new schools showing interest. "Arizona has come on pretty hard and Gonzaga was there for every game. New Mexico jumped in and so did Washington St. It's been a lot of schools after this past weekend. We played really well and went 6-1 and finished in the Final 4 in Vegas."
Growing up a Gonzaga fan, it's been exciting for Kendall to receive interest from the school. Not surprisingly, Don expects this interest to only continue and grow.
"What we have been hearing is that they are going to be watching him close," Kendall's dad said of GU. "The coach that I usually see at the games is Donny Daniels. I was told that all of the coaches saw him play in Vegas and even Coach Few watched him. I believe Gonzaga is going to be there until the end and are going to come really hard after Kendall because of the kind of player he is."
Now that the AAU season is over and his recruitment has picked up, there is a trio of schools that Kendall and his family hopes to see on unofficial visits.
"We will be taking some unofficial visits this year," revealed Don. "I've sent some emails to start getting this setup. I think we are going to do Gonzaga in February and we are going to visit Arizona. We are going to visit University of Portland since they were one of the first schools on him. We go to USC and UCLA games all the time, but those schools aren't really on him right now."