Back in March and April, we heard reports of the Gonzaga coaches heading over to the west side of the state to evaluate and watch elite 2011 recruit Gary Bell Jr. The Kentridge combo guard has been on the Gonzaga radar for a long time, and picked up an official scholarship offer from the Zags when he was at the team camp a few weeks ago. It's clear that Gary is a priority recruit for Gonzaga in 2011, so we decided to check in with Dave Jamison, the head coach at Kentridge high school. We would like to thank Coach Jamison for taking the time for the interview, and providing Gonzaga fans with a good understanding of Gary as a basketball player, and where his recruitment curently stands.
Slipper Still Fits: What camps has Gary attended with both Kentridge and Seattle Rotary this summer, and can you talk about his experience at those camps?
Coach Jamison: He's done a lot with Rotary since spring, after the state tourney, but I don't really know all the places. He is going to Georgia soon and will be at Indy and Vegas but I don't really get involved at AAU. He hasn't gone to any individual camps just the team camp. He's playing basically everyday so we are trying not to kill him.
I thought we did a lot better at Gonzaga as the week went on. We have a lot of football kids and Gary had a bruised knee so we hadn't had a lot of time together and we were still getting used to each other. We had some bumps but we played well in a few games and beat Bellarmine but Gary played very well.
Slipper Still Fits: It seems that Gary made a huge jump between his freshman and sophomore season. Can you talk about the improvement you saw in his game, and where you'd still like to see him continue to improve?
Coach Jamison: He's gotten a lot bigger and stronger, as he put on a few inches and about 20 pounds. His dad is 6'4'' so he has size in his family, and he is getting pretty thick. He's lifting hard and getting better. As far as his game, overall he is pretty sound. Coaches like him because he doesn't have any glaring weaknesses but he has to adjust to shooting in traffic. But he is a good catch and shoot guy for Rotary and did that for us his freshman year. Over Christmas, he really improved as a point guard, and I think he has really developed quite well and started getting to the paint more.
continue reading more of our interview with Coach Jamison after the jump...
Slipper Still Fits: One of the interesting aspects of Gary's game is thathe is only 6'2, but an elite scorer. What position do you see him being most successful in at the DI level, and what position are schools recruiting him for?
Coach Jamison: I think most are looking at him as a PG. He has a good feel for the game and knows when to shoot and knows when to pass it off. We want him to shoot more off the dribble so he can get in the lane but he can play both shooting and point guard.
Slipper Still Fits: Based on what you have seen from Gary, is there a certain type of offensive system or program that he would be most successful in?
Coach Jamison: The way we played this year, we were up and down the court a lot. We outrun most of the teams he plays against and at Gonzaga I think it fits well because he has a good motor and likes to wear guys down, and from the games he has watched, he has noticed how they play.
Slipper Still Fits: What schools have been recruiting Gary so far? Are any schools recruiting him particularly harder than the others, and who does he have offers from? Does the fact that he is from the Seattle area put UW in an advantageous position?
Coach Jamison: We get letters from everywhere and that is going to pick up as soon as July ends. He has offers from UW, Cal, and now Gonzaga. Earlier there were quite a few schools in there but since he is becoming an elite level prospect, they have started to drop off.
With the location, I can't speak for the Seattle kids but we are pretty south of Seattle. He wants to go somewhere where he can get better as a person and play on a successful team. I know he likes UW but it is open and I know he was very impressed by Gonzaga while he was there. I try not to push him but I know he was impressed with the Gonzaga program and everything he saw at the camp.
Slipper Still Fits: Can you talk about the type of relationships that Gary has been able to develop with any of the coaching staffs from these schools, and are any doing a particularly good job of recruiting Gary?
Coach Jamison: We talked a lot with the staff last week and it is important for him with the stability and the experience so Gonzaga has a good advantage there. Coach Romar has been good and has seen him whenever he can. The Cal coaches are serious too and are coming to open gyms a lot, and are seeing him in person.
When we were talking to Coach Few, I was very impressed with him, as far as how they built their program and how they maintain and who they recruit. They just don't offer anyone and hope they commit, and Gary loved that. He doesn't take himself too seriously but he takes what he does quite seriously.
Slipper Still Fits: At this point, does it seem that Gary has any favorites or any schools that he is particularly fond of at this point? Has he at all discussed when he plans on committing?
Coach Jamison: Not really, I think it would probably sometime in the Spring or early summer. He's not really doing it for a fun ride; he just wants to make sure he makes the right choice. He doesn't want to commit and then change his mind. He's going to make his choice and stick with it. He will not rush it.
Slipper Still Fits: How would you describe Gary away from the court, and what type of work ethic does he have?
Coach Jamison: I've been coaching for 22 years and haven't seen a kid with the full ability, attitude, ethic and character as Gary. I'm obviously biased but he came in as a freshman and started right away. He carries himself so well and he loves to compete and defensively he could play at the Pac 10 level now. He plays with so much passion that he gets demonstrative on the court but that is how it is with a player of his passion. He is a very grounded kid and his parents do a great job at not praising him over the top like crazy. He's a great kid.