As anyone who has followed this site for the past three years knows, the recruiting season is our true passion and love. While we love following the Zags during the season, the unknown talents and excitement of recruiting are what really drew us to starting this site. Although the end of the April evaluation signaled a smaller window for coaches to go out and evaluate AAU prospects and teams, there is still a window in April that allows for coaches to go to high school open gyms. With that period kicking off yesterday, it should come as no surprise that the Gonzaga coaching staff is out on the road checking in on some of the recruits that will become household names over the next four months.
Yesterday, a certain member of the coaching staff decided to soak in some sun in Phoenix, Arizona, as we were able to confirm that the staff was at Westwind Prep to watch Demarquise Johnson at an open gym. Johnson has an offer from Gonzaga and it seems like he is one of the priority targets for a high-level wing in 2012. We will have a more in-depth look at Johnson and his recruitment on the site later today, but know that he is an elite prospect that really likes Gonzaga. Johnson will play with Team Eleate again this summer and will be a prospect that will receive tons of coverage on this site, and nationally, up until his commitment.
While "Que" Johnson is emerging as a priority recruit, he is not the only guy the staff is checking out. Today, a stop in Las Vegas for the Findlay Prep open gym is on the docket. Although Findlay has a ton of great prospects each year, the belief is that Anthony Bennett is the reason for this visit. Bennett is a consensus Top-100 recruit that would provide the muscular and powerful PF that has been lacking in recent years. Bennett has been linked with a lot of East Coast schools, but because of Gonzaga's Canadian ties, the Zags might have more of a chance than recently believed. Bennett has played with Kevin Pangos numerous times and that is a quality that can never hurt in recruiting.
Recruiting will of course evolve over the next four months as the coaches are able to evaluate guys in person throughout July, but you better believe that if the staff is heading to open gyms, it's because these players are high on the radar. There are likely a handful of other recruits that interest the staff, but some of the top AAU teams in the country begin their season this weekend, which means that the staff won't see them in action at this point.