Just when we start crossing all sorts of players off the prospect list for the 2010 class, a few new names pop up onto the radar. For the longest time, we suspected that the Zags would use this recruiting cycle to lock down another interior player to bolster the front court. However, with the emergence of Elias Harris and Kelly Olynyk and the improved performance from Robert Sacre, it is pretty clear that this group of young "bigs" is very strong. Combine that with Sam Dower coming off a redshirt season next year, and that is a very formidable front line with plenty of athleticism.
Since it appears that Gonzaga now has no interest in signing a big in this recruiting class, the other area of need is in the back court. The Zags lose Matt Bouldin to graduation after this season and his scoring, passing, and leadership will be missed. Bouldin's departure also leaves a huge void in terms of a true scoring combo guard. Steven Gray is still around and then you have guys like Bol Kong, Manny Arop, and Grant Gibbs but it still remains to be seen what kind of role they are going to fill on this team. With Demetri Goodson and G.J. Vilarino running the point, you aren't going to get a whole lot of shot creation from them unless it is straight at the basket expecting contact.
For these reasons, the scoring combo guard seems to be the direction Mark Few is going. We have been tracking certain players that fit the bill for quite some time and others have recently popped up. The four players that we believe Gonzaga still has some interest in are, LaBradford Franklin, Kendall Williams, and Jordin Mayes. These four players are still going through the recruitment process and are destined to be spring signees.
We believe that some are far more likely to be Zags than others but it is important to list all players of interest when you are trying to speculate about Gonzaga recruiting. You really never do know what Mark Few and co. are going to do. Want an example? How about Elias Harris' commitment being divulged in a West Coast Conference press release that barely got any recognition. Not to mention the signing of three Canadian players and a former Kentucky commit. With this staff, anything is possible. Read on to hear our thoughts on the topic after the jump.
There are two players that I feel stand out and they are LaBradford Franklin and Brandon Dunson. Franklin has seemingly been on Gonzaga's radar for quite some time. When we thought Gonzaga was headed in the bigs direction rather than the guards we sort of lost track of him but he has really been getting a lot of mentions regarding the Zags. Rivals.com has Franklin listed with a Gonzaga offer but, to the best of our knowledge, the Zags have yet to offer any 2010 prospect as they are still evaluating players. The 2009 class was obviously very time consuming with Elias being in Germany for so long and Bol struggling to get into the country so they were sort of put behind the 8-ball for this class. Franklin is a good sized point guard at 6'3'' that can score. He's averaging over 17 points a game this season. He's got offers from schools like Pitt, Portland, Nevada, San Diego State, and others but is still set to decide in the spring.
We first heard about Brandon Dunson a few days ago in an article written by ChicagoHoops.com. In that article, it claimed that Dunson was getting interest from Gonzaga. Upon further investigation, Rivals had this little blurb about Brandon today:
Wabash Valley starting point guard Brandon Dunson has led his team to a 15-2 record and a No. 6 national ranking.
Oklahoma State and Nevada have recently evaluated him. Arizona State is expected on Wednesday, with Gonzaga coming in later in the week.
The idea of getting a juco player at this time really intrigues me. I'd love to have a confident, older guard that could come in and contribute right away and mesh with this young team. Dunson is a smooth shooting lefty that has guided his Wabash Valley College team to a national ranking. He's currently averaging around 12 points and is shooting 51% from the floor. Don't be alarmed by the relatively low scoring output. It's very hard for junior college players to really explode on the scene with so much lack of continuity. EDZ put up a great video of some of Dunson's best work that I really recommend checking out. I believe it will come down to a tough evaluation of LaBradford versus Brandon to see who the offer goes to. Here is a more detailed look at Dunson's stats this season. Schools like Oklahoma State, Western Kentucky, Arizona State, UCLA, and Nevada have all been showing interest in him and while he doesn't have an offer yet, you can bet that will change. According to Scout.com, Brandon has a Russell Westbrook type feel to his game which is obviously very exciting.
The other two players that might have some kind of role in dictating Gonzaga's 2010 class are Jordin Mayes and Kendall Williams. Williams has had an odd time with the recruiting process. He initially committed to UCLA a few years ago but that fell apart when Kendall struggled in high school and AAU ball. He is having an excellent 2009-10 season and is back on the big time national radar. He is listed as having Gonzaga interest by ESPN.com and it would make sense as Kendall fits the mold of what the Zags are looking for. Here is a snippet from an ESPN January 2010 evaluation:
January, 2010: Williams is a multifaceted, offensive player. Kendall is comfortable knocking down the long range three-point shot, but must work on becoming more consistent with holding his follow through to shoot a higher percentage. Kendall is comfortable driving right, as well as, left from top penetration. He is able to finish around the rim with either hand and put the appropriate spin and touch on the basketball to make the lay-up in traffic.
The last prospect of interest who I haven't heard much from recently is Jordin Mayes. Mayes is more of a prototypical point man at 6'1'' and he plays on the tremendously good Westchester High School team in California. Mayes holds three offers currently from Arizona, San Diego State, and Boston College. Gonzaga was evaluating Mayes when his high school team traveled up to Portland for the Les Schwab Invitational so we will see if anything materializes from that time. I would put Mayes at a distant fourth in terms of who I think will be the guard in 2010 but you just never know.
With Andy Poling's transfer, Gonzaga now has a lot of options recruiting wise but expect them to only use one scholarship this recruiting cycle and stock up for 2011. We'll keep you updated on Gonzaga recruiting when anything else comes up.