It's safe to say that not many people thought the Zags would be under .500 at this point of the season. While it's too early to write the season off, it's never too early to look ahead to next season. Over the weekend I had a chance to see Gary Bell Jr. play, Gonzaga's heralded shooting guard recruit for next season. I quickly saw why nearly every Pac-10 school recruited him.
Bell's final state line: 27 points on 10-20 shooting (4-5 from 3 point land) to go along with eight rebounds.
Bell and his Kentridge Chargers were playing Tahoma in the Les Schwab Preview at Highline Community College in Des Moines, WA on Saturday and he stole the show. From his amazingly quick first step to his silky smooth jump shot, Bell put his skill and athleticism on display. He was knocking down three's, getting to the rim at will, and he even took a charge (a staple of Zags defensive strategy).
Bell brought the ball up for the Chargers, but I wouldn't expect him to see him playing the point for the Zags. First of all, the Zags will have four point guards on their roster next year with the addition of Canada's Kevin Pangos. Secondly, despite Bell's 6'2" frame, he truly is a shoot-first guard (he ended the game with only one assist).
Even though Bell ended up with 20 field goal attempts and one assist, he was not a selfish player by any means. For the most part, his shots came within Kentridge's drive and dish offense. At times he reminded me of Jeremy Pargo with the way he could slither his way through traffic to get to the rim. Often Bell was met at the rim by the 6'8" Christian Behrens, a forward for Tahoma HS who is getting college looks himself, but was able to draw contact and get to the line. Bell also has great leaping ability (he led his team in rebounds) and an incredibly quick release, which will help him shoot over taller defenders.
Despite being his team's main offensive threat, he didn't take any time off on the other side of the floor. He outmatched every player he guarded and even while defending off the ball, his intensity never wavered and he played the entire game at 100% speed.
Bell is the most athletic recruit Gonzaga has ever gotten out of Western Washington and with the departure of Steven Gray he will battle Mathis Monninghoff for the starting 2 guard spot. Check back in at TSSF in upcoming weeks for more GBJ updates.