As we examined in a recent story, the commitment of GJ Vilarino will have a huge impact on the future scholarship situation for the Zags. However, as you will see in this story, this commitment also completely alters the recruiting strategy for Mark Few and the coaching staff over the next two seasons. The difficult aspect is trying to figure out what positions will be priorities for the coaching staff. With the signing of Vilarino, and Arop, Kong, and Olynyk coming next year, I think its fair to assume that the Zags are covered at the PG and SF position. Therefore, I think that the staff will likely be focusing on trying to find a true back to the basket center, as well as a lights out shooter over the next two years. By having so few scholarships to give, Gonzaga can really shoot for the stars in terms of recruits, and there are already a couple of guys that I think we should keep our eyes on over the next year.
For the basis of this examination, we will assume that in fact both Austin and Bol will be on campus this year, and that Will Foster will be playing basketball somewhere else next year (there is no background to the choice, so please don't try and read between the lines). If that's the case, I am going to assume that for the 2010 class, we will have two open spots (Matt and Austin). Our early assumption was that PG would be a major necessity for the Zags in 2010, with Aaron Bright of Bellevue, and LaBradford Frankling of San Diego being the two most coveted prospects. However, with the signing of GJ Vilarino, PG is no longer a necessity for the 2010 class. Therefore, I would have to believe that Gonzaga will look to add a couple of big guys in this class. For the sake of the sanity of Gonzaga fans, I'm not going to include Josh Smith on this list, because at this point he is a pipe dream. However, should things change in his recruitment, I will certainly provide everyone with all the information they can handle on Smith.
The easiest option to fill one of the spots would be Guy-Marc Michel. Michel is an interesting prospect, because of his relationship with Gonzaga and the coaching staff. Michel was a spectator at nearly every home game this year, and it was the help of Tommy Lloyd that got Michel situated at NIC. However, like many guys who are 7'1, Michel is still incredibly awkward on the offensive end, and has a long way to go before he would be able to contribute at this
level. I think that the staff would like to see some signficant improvement from Guy-Marc in terms of his overall skill level before they decide that he is worth a scholarship. Still, there is no denying the natural athleticism and great timing he possesses on the defensive end.
At this point, we know two other post options that the coaching staff has shown initial interest in. The higher ranked of the two is 6'10 Alex Kirk from Los Alamos, New Mexico. Kirk averaged 28 points and 14 rebounds this past year, and seems to have a tremendous work ethic, as he has put on 35 pounds of muscle over the past year. Kirk has emerged as one of the most recruited prospects on the West Coast, as certain articles have indicated that much of the Pac 10 and Big 12 has shown interest in Kirk. At this point, some of his top offers include Washington, USC, and New Mexico, but with a productive summer, his recruiting should take off. It will be interesting to see how much interest the staff shows in Kirk over the summer, as it sounds like the staff has shown interest early on.
The second post prospect that seems to be on the Zags radar is Johnny McArthur of De La Salle (high school), California. The 6'10 center is a true bruiser who might remind some fans of a Zach Gourde type player. He is not overly skilled on the offensive end, but is a terrific rebounder and plays with great toughness and physicality. To be honest, I think McArthur is a back up plan for the staff, because at this point, Stanford appears to be the only true competition for him. However, the people over at Rivals seem to love McArthur, as they have him ranked as the #132 prospect in the country. The one knock on McArthur seems to be his athleticism, because he brings great energy and toughness to every game.
While there seems to be a solid number of post prospects that Gonzaga has their eyes on, I think one guard has clearly emerged as the top prospect for the 2010 class. It looks like Joe Harris, the 6'5 CG from Chelan, Washington has caught the eye of the staff, and to be honest, the eye of the state. I had the opportunity to see Joe play when he was sophomore, and while I came away impressed, I didn't think he was skilled enough to play at Gonzaga. However, he has made tremendous strides this past year, which has earned him scholarship offers from USD, Portland, and Eastern Washington. Other reports have stated that Harris is receiving interest from Washington State, Oregon State, Utah State, St. Mary's, and UCLA. Harris has played quite well with FOH this summer so far, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if a strong summer led to an offer from the Zags. If that's the case, there is no doubt that Harris will be a Zag in 2010. As for Harris as a basketball player, he is a 6'5 PG/SG that can shoot the three very well, and has incredible vision on the court. Look for Harris to be on the Gonzaga campus for the Elite Camp this summer, as well as the Gonzaga team camps with Chelan.
Over the weekend, we will take a look at what the priorities are for the 2011 class. The options at both PG and SG are outstanding, and the Zags can really shoot for the starts with limited scholarship to hand out. What do you guys think the 2010 class should look like? What combo of guys would you like to see, or is there anyone not on this list that you think Gonzaga should pursue?