The Les Schwab Invitational and the Spokane Holiday Showcase both came to an end yesterday and while the results weren't ideal for Gonzaga's two big 2011 prospects, they each had some great individual performances. Gary Bell Jr. and his Kentridge Chargers made it through the Holiday Showcase field all the way to the title game before getting knocked off by fourth-ranked Curtis, 61-56. Bell had a nice individual game, scoring 26 points but it wasn't enough. He was reportedly gameplanned against pretty heavily in the title game as the Curtis head coach realized that if you stop Bell, you can probably stop Kentridge. He fought through and put together a great night regardless and nearly upset Curtis, only losing by five.
The good news is that Washington's Scout.com team was able to catch up with Gary recently and give us an outstanding update on Bell's recruitment. Here is a little snippet from that:
Cal, UW and Gonzaga are recruiting Bell the most right now. They talk to him once or twice every three to four weeks.
There's plenty more on Gary later in the post after the jump.
Kyle Wiltjer, the 6'9'' forward from Jesuit High School in Beaverton, OR, had a pretty interesting tournament at the Les Schwab Invitational. After leading his team to a victory over Rainier Beach, Jesuit was set to have a showdown with Westchester out of California. The only problem was that the weather played a factor and the snow in the Portland area prevented Kyle from getting to the gym to play this third round game. Jesuit wound up losing to Westchester due to these unforeseen circumstances (and Jordin Mayes) and were relegated to the fifth place game in which they dominated Lake Oswego. Wiltjer had 12 points at halftime against the Lakes and helped Jesuit build up a 16 point lead. He only scored two more points on the game last night as it was clear that the Crusaders had called off the dogs.
Continue reading after the jump for plenty more on Gary Bell Jr.
Heading into the Spokane Holiday Showcase, it was pretty clear that this would be a great time for the Gonzaga coaching staff to really be visible and show his support for Gary and I believe at least one member of the staff was at each one of his games which is music to our ears.
Mark Few also made a trip to see Gary Bell play when the Zags were in Seattle to play Davidson so he definitely sees great promise in Bell being a fantastic Zag.
His recruitment is really beginning to heat up as a few new schools have come into play and offered Gary. Once again, per Dawgman.com
"I was kind of shocked," Bell said when he got a call from the UCLA Bruins. "It was the first time I talked to one of the coaches from UCLA, and he offered me on the spot
And besides UCLA, he currently has offers from Gonzaga, Cal, Washington and Arizona State. "Oregon and Arizona have been calling my Dad a lot," Bell said of the recruiting process. "So it's starting to get crazy."
I've got to give a ton of credit to the folks over at Dawgman for this insanely thorough report on Gary. Lots of great information in this piece so if I link it a lot, you know why. The UCLA offer obviously meant a lot for Gary but I don't think they'll play a huge role in his recruitment unless Josh Smith of Kentwood really puts the full court press on him. The two formed a relationship playing AAU ball together. Those first three schools: Gonzaga, Cal, and UW will probably be Gary's landing spot if I had to guess. As Dawgman reports, Gary is looking for a school with a great reputation for developing guards and a place that will give him freedom on the court as well as a team to lead.
He said that he sees some of these things in the way Gonzaga plays:
Being in Spokane currently, Bell and his teammates had a chance to see Gonzaga beat Eastern Washington by 42. "I like coach (Mark) Few," he said. "They are playing on national TV all the time. He has a lot of freedom for the guards too. We're actually in Spokane and we watched them play yesterday. The guards have a lot of freedom to do whatever they want, kinda."
Gonzaga does have a nice advantage as they play at least half of their games on one of the ESPN's or CBS. In fact, Gary will be able to tune into Gonzaga's next two games against Oklahoma and Illinois (might have to go to a restaurant to check that one, stupid CBS regional games).
At this point, I really do see it coming down to Gonzaga and Washington which is a great storyline in and of itself but if the Zags can land him it will be a huge get in the Seattle area. Mark Few has always been a tremendous recruiter but he's struggled on the West side of the state to get kids away from places like Oregon, Washington and the rest of the Pac-10. Getting Gary would be a great follow-up to losing Steven after next year.
To give me even more confidence, in Gary's last recruiting update he said that UW and Cal were clear favorites. I don't know if it just wasn't worded the same but here is how Gary expressed his current attitude towards the recruiting process:
"I'm just trying to keep things open right now," he said. "I think I'll make my decision after the AAU season is over with. I'll know all the colleges that I'll have and the choices."
The good news is obviously that Gonzaga and Mark Few are still in the mix for Bell and Kyle Wiltjer. The so-so news is that we are really, really going to have to work to get both. Each player is a blue-chip in every sense of the word. Gary Bell Jr. should hold offers from every Pac-10 school by the time he decides and Wiltjer already has schools like Stanford, Kansas, and Wake Forest hot on his trail. Gonzaga has a nice advantage being close to these guys and each player has expressed sincere interest in the program. A scoring, smart, and emotional point guard seems to be just what the doctor ordered for Gonzaga and a versatile 6'9'' power forward that can score from anywhere on the court would fit this system beautifully.