While it has been a bit of a down period for talent in the Northwest, it appears there is another crop of extraordinary talent on the way. Gonzaga landed arguably the top talent in the Northwest in the 2014 class in Silas Melson, and is now looking to continue to add local talent. We caught up with the czar of Northwest prep talent, Left Coast Recruiting (@LC_Recruiting), for a breakdown on some of the top prospects in the area.
TSSF: Before we dive into future prospects, let's hear about Silas Melson. What makes Silas such a special prospect for Gonzaga? Where have you seen the most improvement from him over the past year?
Left Coast Recruiting: Melson is what you call a silent assassin on the court. He is very quiet but his game does all the talking. What makes Silas so special is that he has the ability to shoot anywhere on the court and has the athletic ability to get to the rim. The Gonzaga commit has bounce as well which allows him to finish at the rim with contact. Melson isn't too bad on defense.
He has improved on his ball handling to create his shot and ability to find his teammates. Gonzaga is getting a good one in Melson. Few and staff are happy that they landed Silas before his recruiting blew up.
TSSF: What kind of role do you think Silas can fill during his freshman year at Gonzaga?
Left Coast Recruiting: I think Silas can come in and get some minutes and be a spark of the bench. They will run plays for him to utilize his shooting ability. Like I said before, Silas has worked on creating his shot etc., so we shall see if all the hard work pays off. I think it will and Melson will have a good career at Gonzaga and end up being a key piece to the team down the road.
TSSF: Dejounte Murray might be the most popular recruit among Gonzaga fans. How would you describe Dejounte as a prospect?
Left Coast Recruiting: Murray is about 6'4-6'5 with broad basketball shoulders with a slim body. Dejounte is a basketball player many coaches won't mind having on their team. He does a bunch of everything on the court and at times flirts with triple doubles. Murray recorded a couple triple doubles his junior season at Beach.
Murray can extend his shot to the three point line, finds his teammates, and has the knack to rebound which he does very well. Murray ceiling is very high and he hasn't even scratched it yet. Once he gains weight and puts it all together, he will have a chance to be big time down the road.
TSSF: Like a lot of Seattle kids, there is definitely some pressure on Dejounte to go to UW. How realistic of a chance do you think Gonzaga has in its pursuit of Dejounte?
Left Coast Recruiting: I think they are in a good position with Murray. Gonzaga and Washington were the first schools to recruit Murray and are still in constant contact with him. Murray has a good relationship with both coaching staffs. When it comes to recruiting and what we have seen as of late, there always is a chance.
TSSF: There are a couple of 2016 PG's on Gonzaga's radar that have emerged as national recruits. Tell us about Keith Smith, who is already receiving lots of interest from Gonzaga.
Left Coast Recruiting: Keith is a 6'3 point guard who is very smooth on the court. The first person that comes to mind when you see Smith on the court is Brandon Roy. Smith is coming off a partial torn meniscus that occurred during the high school season. He played during the beginning of the spring but missed the last two EYBL sessions due to swelling.
What makes Smith so special is that he has nice size to him and has the ability to see the court well. Keith can attack the rim but has a nice mid-range jump shot. Smith can rebound as well. Just a complete overall player who has the ability to change the pace of the game.
TSSF: Payton Pritchard has become a national recruit thanks to his play during this AAU season. What do you think makes Payton such a good PG prospect for the next level?
Left Coast Recruiting: I have been watching Pritchard since his freshman year. His play in the LSI was huge in his recruiting against national talent, then he put on a clinic during the Hoop Summit scrimmage against the National HS team, and then has put up huge numbers during AAU.
Pritchard is a 6'0 point guard who is getting more athletic, which is a good thing. What makes Pritchard so special is that he is a fundamental point guard. An old school point guard who gets it done on the court and knows how to win. Payton has two state titles in his first two years of high school to go along with a state player of the year award.
He knows how to get his teammates involved in the game with his court vision. Payton knows how to make an opponent ride his hip to the rim to finish in the lane. The young man has a nice cross over that creates space to hit a mid-range shot or a deadly three point shot. Pritchard is one of those guys you don't want to bet against because he just finds a way to win.
TSSF: If you had to compare Keith and Payton, what would you say are the biggest strengths/weaknesses of each?
Left Coast Recruiting: Keith Smith's biggest strength is his overall game. His ability to score, rebound, and get his teammates involved. His only weakness will be is if he doesn't take care of his knee and rest it up.
Payton - Some would say down the road, Pritchard's size might be his weakness, but that hasn't stopped him yet. Right now there are times when he does turn the ball over more than he should. Overall, there aren't that many weaknesses in his game. You know what you are going to get every night.
Payton's biggest strength his leadership and just finding a way to win.