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Setting the offseason itinerary

You'll probably be seeing a lot of this guy, Gary Bell Jr., on TSSF in coming months as AAU ball gets going.
You'll probably be seeing a lot of this guy, Gary Bell Jr., on TSSF in coming months as AAU ball gets going.

I really hate the beginning off the offseason.  I don't think I'll hate it as much if/when Gonzaga is playing their way into April someday while Max and I are running this site.  Until that time comes, it is time to lay out the groundwork for what we can look forward to until the 2010-2011 season begins.  I usually put up a countdown clock on the site at this point but I'm afraid that we are so far away that our site will explode into a million pieces.  Even though the pieces and people are a lot different from this year to last year, the offseason we can expect to see play out really does mimic what we saw about a year ago.  Some coaching rumors, some draft rumors, some late in the game recruiting stuff, and overall excitement and wonder about next season.

Here is a brief look at what Max and I will be focusing on as we are some ten thousand days away from next season:

1. Mark Few and all the Oregon rumors.  Assuming the Oregon athletic program has enough money to pay off lawyer and bail fees for their football team, they will at some point be looking to contract a coach to lead them into the next phase of Phil Knight takeover.  I'll be honest in saying that I haven't paid much attention to the rumors in as much as they pertain to Few because, after last year, I can't see him leaving Gonzaga.  In the past couple years, Mark Few has been pursued by programs such as Arizona and Indiana.  He spurned them both to remain in Spokane and continue living life the way he wants to.  Oregon is a different animal because Few is obviously a graduate of the school but I honestly feel like if Few really would have wanted to be at Oregon, their administration would have moved Kent out last year or even before that.  We've been very fortunate to have Coach Few for all these years and I know there are many of you that question him from time to time but when I really think about it, I really can't picture Gonzaga without Few at the helm.  I know one day it will inevitably happen but I don't think we're close to that day.

2.  Elias Harris and the NBA.

We've been on an emotional roller coast with Elias since the day he arrived in Spokane.  We started out not even knowing if the kid would start/contribute and then he bursts on the scene and makes an immediate impact as one of the top freshman in the nation.  Then we all started to worry.  Is he too good?  Is that an NBA scout in the stands? Why is Pat Riley smiling?  Draft experts from all over the Internet started critiquing and weighing Harris' draft prospects and the prognosis early on was that E could be a lottery pick this season if he chose to leave.  Then conference play hit and Harris hit a wall.  His averages dropped, his touches dropped, and he seemed to have trouble getting in a rhythm.  His German national coach came to Spokane and expressed that he and Elias believe that it would be best for him to remain at Gonzaga for some time.  That put smiles on all our faces.  Now the season is over, rumors have picked up once again, and I think there is definitely a little fear factor in regards to Elias possibly going to the NBA.  Just to express my views, I think it is ridiculous for fans to expect players to turn down the opportunity to get feedback from NBA scouts.  If they are invited to camps, workouts, etc, I see no justification for not seeing how you measure up.  There is a reason why you are allowed to remove your name from consideration.  Elias should get every piece of info he can about where he stands and where he needs to improve his game.  My stance is also that he will return based purely on the fact that he doesn't project well to the next level with his current skill set.  For as fantastic as he is, there are small holes on offense he needs to work on and there are some far larger holes on defense that he needs to correct before moving on.

3.  Recruiting (aka junior college sweepstakes)

If you haven't yet, take a look at our left hand sidebar and click on the updated Gonzaga scholarship chart.  We just fixed it up and removed Matt Bouldin and Will Foster from those $40,000+ lines.  With Andy Poling's transfer, Gonzaga has three scholly's to work with for the 2010 class.  Obviously, we don't expect Mark Few to fill this class to 100% capacity because that would put huge strain on our dream 2011 class.  What we do know is that the staff has known exactly what they wanted to do with this class for a long time.  A number of junior college guards have been mentioned with interest from Gonzaga and the one that is currently on our minds is Marquise Carter.  Max brilliantly detailed the kind of player Carter is a few posts ago so I urge you all to check that out.  This team is in desperate need of scoring help in terms of the backcourt.  The only player I have confidence in to score on a consistent basis is Steven Gray.  Scary.  Love him or hate him, Meech Goodson probably won't torch the nets next year.  Same for G.J.  Manny and Bol can obviously score but they both need serious work, mainly just confidence wise.  That leaves us with not a lot of immediate hope for backcourt production.  Junior college players are obviously always a risk but Carter seems to fit the bill and if they don't get Carter, I am sure they will get someone who they can plug in to give this team a boost.  One guy that is still hanging around is Guy-Marc Michael from Northern Idaho College.  He's not a guard, nor can he fill it up offensively but he is a 7-footer that can defend a block shots.  Another junior college prospect, Michel reportedly has a Gonzaga offer and is also considering Colorado.  He's immensely raw on offense but is one of the best shot blockers in the juco game and has great size.  Don't sleep on him to sign late.

4.  AAU Ball

Lord willing, Max and I will finally make it out to the AAU tournaments this summer in Vegas.  With the 2011 class setting up to be star-studded and extremely important for Gonzaga, it seems like it'd be a great summer to watch some AAU ball.  Gary Bell Jr., Kyle Wiltjer, Nick Johnson, and many more are all on our list of players to watch but the one I am most interested in seeing is Kyle Dranginis.  Kyle is already committed to enroll at Gonzaga in 2011 and he is honestly a big question mark for me.  I've watched a few of his games on about a five inch computer screen but mainly only know about him from word of mouth and what I've read on the Internet.  Another thing that Max and I are big on is quality of opposition and I'll admit that my knowledge of Idaho basketball isn't great but I know they aren't churning out division one players.  This is why I'm excited to see how Kyle does in AAU ball.  It's a much different style of basketball than your typical high school game because it usually makes the scorers stand out and can really send many to the back of the stage.  It's definitely not something we should base all of our knowledge on but AAU basketball can be a great equalizer in recruiting because often times tournaments are set up to pit the best against the best.  You can bet that Gary Bell's Seattle Rotary team will be very competitive once again.

5.  Practice/workout updates

Last summer we were able to talk to Leon Rice and Ray Giacoletti which was huge for our site.  We started this blog to really cover the down time between seasons so any information we can get our hands on is great for us.  Those interviews were great because we were able to check in about how players were progressing in the offseason and how the coaches expected new players to contribute.  We learned about how G.J. Vilarino wound up at GU from Coach G and he also filled us in on just how good Elias Harris could be.  The same could be said for Coach Rice's interview.  Both were filled with great info and we hope to provide the same kind of stuff for you all this offseason.  There are definitely a lot of question marks heading into 2010-2011.  The point guard position, the power forward position if Elias moves outside, and the overall progression of the bench and rotation are all things we are very anxious about so we will be working hard to pass along any info we pick up.

In addition to all this, there will be plenty of info on how the Gonzaga baseball team is doing this spring and other basketball related tidbits such as scheduling updates and any additional recruiting news.

There you have it!  That's what you can mostly expect from us as we look ahead to next season.  Stick around, keep throwing up fanposts and comments, and let us know if there is anything else you'd like to talk about on the site!