Throughout the first couple weeks of the July recruiting period, the top AAU teams across the country have been spread out in various locations competing against some lesser quality opponents. That all changes today, as 24 of the top AAU programs come together in North Augusta, South Carolina, for the Nike Peach Jam. The Nike Peach Jam is arguably the premier AAU competition during the summer period, and I can guarantee that multiple members of the Gonzaga staff will be there to see some of the top prospects on the Gonzaga recruiting board. To be completely honest, at this point, we know much more about the 2011 key recruits then we do about the 2010 recruits. With that said, this tournament might tell us more about who the Zags will be pursuing for the 2010 class, as well as perhaps allow for a few more names for the 2011 class to emerge. Here are the teams that we expect Mark Few and the rest of the coaching staff to be watching, and we count at least four high level recruits that the staff will be following intently throughout the course of the tournament.
I would be stunned, and I mean absolutely stunned, if the Gonzaga staff doesn't have the schedule completely memorized for Pool A. With thix pool featuring both the Oakland Soldiers and Seattle Rotary, the coaching staff will have the opportunity to watch two of its primary recruits for the 2011 class. Oakland Soldiers actually features a handul of recruits that have mentioned Gonzaga interest, but the two that we will be keeping our eyes on are Kyle Wiltjer and Nick Johnson. Wiltjer, the 6'9 Mike Dunleavy Jr. clone, has been on the Gonzaga radar for over a year, and the Zags were one of his first offers. Wiltjer recently competed at the Lebron James camp, and has recently seen his stock rise after competing at the Kansas elite camp. With his ability to shoot from distance and run the court, Wiltjer is an ideal fit for the Gonzaga system, and I'm sure this is something that Mark Few will make clear over the next year. At this point, Nick Johnson might be a bit of a lost cause. Johnson appears to have his focus on the BCS schools, as he has repeatedly stated interest in the PAC 10. I would personally be surprised to see him leave the state of Arizona, especially with the job that Sean Miller is doing so far with the Wildcats.
Equally high on the 2011 priority list is Gary Bell Jr., who will be starring for Seattle Rotary. Bell was the topic of a recent interview for the site, and we have every reason to believe that he is the top priority at the PG position for the 2011 class. As Coach Jamison mentioned in the interview, Bell will likely blow up this July, but I like where Gonzaga stands with his recruitment. Rotary actually lost their first game earlier today, as they lost a heartbreaker to All Ohio Red. It appears that Gary has already impressed, as Eric Bossi of Scout had this to say via his twitter.
All Ohio still up 2, with ball, 12 seconds left. Seeing why Rotary's 2011 guard Gary Bell is so highly touted.
Pool B: Team Final, Boo Williams Summer League, I-5 Elite, Albany City Rocks, Arkansas Wings, Georgia Stars
If, and it's a big if, Gonzaga decides to recruit a big for the 2010 class, it wouldn't surprise me if Jordan Railey becomes one of the main targets. The 6'10 Railey has a slowly developing offensive game, but could be an immediate impact player on the defensive end. Railey reminds me a little bit of Sam Dower at this point of his recruitment, as it appears that Railey is hearing mostly from mid-majors right now, but after a big July, he could be hearing from every school on the West Coast.
"Colleges coaches that I've talked to say they really like my hands and my feet- those are the two main things they tell me," Railey said of the feedback he heard from coaches during the contact period. "The only thing they said I really need to improve on is my physical strength, but that's a given since I'm still growing into my body."
Railey currently boasts offers from Portland and Utah State, while also noting interest from Cal, Cal Poly, Gonzaga, San Francisco, Santa Clara, St. Mary's and Washington State.
If Railey can continue to dominate on the defensive end, and show the potential to improve offensively, I could see the staff making a run at either him or Yannick Atanga. However, I'm just not sure how many scholarship will be used for 2010, with so much talent and apparent early interest from highly rated prospects in 2011.
Both Pool C and Pool D feature recruits who have previously stated some interest in Gonzaga (Alex Kirk and Keala King), but it appears that neither is still on the radar. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it will give the staff more time to focus on guys like Wiltjer and Bell, while also looking for some guys they may have not seen in the last year.
We will continue to provide updates as we get them. This will be the last huge tournament before the great Las Vegas weekend, which will feature every top prospect in the country.