I'm starting to see a lot of parallels between the 2007 recruiting class and what hopefully becomes the 2011 recruiting class. Today, Rivals.com released their updated 2011 recruit rankings and it rewarded a few Gonzaga prospects that had outstanding summers.
First, we have to start with Kyle Wiltjer who absolutely blew up this summer with the Drew Gooden Soldiers and impressed Rivals head scout Jerry Meyer so much that he received a five-star rating from the premier recruiting website in the country. Wiltjer has been a blog favorite since our days at The Kennel Report and seems to be a no-brainer type recruit that would fit in very well with Mark Few's system. He is now the 23rd best player in the 2011 cycle and from my view, the third best player on the West Coast. Kyle has been written up a number of times on this site and around the nation and is described as one of the most versatile big men in the class. He's got a tremendous face up game and I'd wager that the reason for his five-star rating is because he showed his smooth stroke throughout the summer months. Kyle is obviously one of the most sought after players in the country and said that he is being pursued mainly by the entire Pac-10, Gonzaga and Kansas. The good part for Gonzaga is that every time I have seen or read an interview with Kyle, he has mentioned Gonzaga first. I like that Gonzaga is the first to come to mind!
Gary Bell Jr. was previously unranked by Rivals.com having played in the shadows of Tony Wroten Jr. on Seattle Rotary but he finally got the credit he deserved today as Jerry Meyer and the rest of Rivals.com gave Bell a four-star ranking. He is listed as the 74th best player in the 2011 recruiting cycle and I would say that, from everything I have read, Bell Jr. impressed just as much, if not more than Wiltjer. Like I said, Bell is on the loaded Seattle Rotary team but all summer long he has been making news with his abilities at the guard position and I'll always remember that a writer for Scout.com said that he like Bell Jr. as a prospect more than Wroten, who is top 10 in the class. Bell's three reported scholarship offers are from Gonzaga, Washington, and California and it's had to even get an idea about who is leading for his services but he has camped at Gonzaga and been on campus over the summer, which is a positive.
Two other players of interest in this rankings update are Texas prep star LeBryan Nash who has listed Gonzaga as a school of interest, and Findlay Prep's Nick Johnson. Nash is a shoe-in blue chipper and has been ranked as the fifth best player in the class and Johnson, who was Wiltjer's teammate on the Drew Gooden Soldiers, has been ranked 51st by Rivals.com. I'd call both of these guys longshots at this point but it is pretty clear that the staff is setting their sights high in 2011.
Are you noticing the similarities to 2007's class yet? Austin Daye was a five-star and ranked as the 25th best player in the nation, Wiltjer is a five-star and #23. Steven Gray was a four-star and the 64th best player in 2007, Gary Bell Jr. is 74th and a four-star. Now all we need to do is find our Robert Sacre type big in this class...assuming we don't act in 2010.
I'd say the future is bright!