As the month of July quickly approaches, it means that our favorite month of the basketball year is nearly here. With the current recruiting rules in place, July has become the month for college coaches to spend on the road evaluating AAU teams and elite prospects. This July will be no different, as the Gonzaga coaching staff will be spread out across the country to see some of the top talent in 2012. At this point, we know there will be certain recruits that will have the attention of the coaching staff (Skylar Spencer and Richard Longrus), while there also recruits that appear to no longer be on the radar (Demarquise Johnson).
In hopes of providing all of you with as much information on some of these top prospects, we decided to check in with Josh Gershon (if you aren't already, be sure to follow him on twitter @JoshGershon), who is a recruiting analyst for Scout.com and provides unbelievable coverage on West Coast recruits. Too be perfectly honest, Josh provides the recruiting coverage and information that Gonzaga fans have longed for. In the interview with Josh, we not only got his opinion on some of the key Gonzaga targets, but also spoke with him about the impact that Donny Daniels can make on the recruiting landscape. Once again, we would like to thank Josh for taking the time for this interview and providing great insight on some of the key names for Gonzaga fans this summer.
On Richard Longrus (Bishop O'Dowd/Oakland Soldiers)/ Holds Offers From: Gonzaga, UCLA, Colorado, UNLV, St. Mary's and Santa Clara
Josh Gershon: It's difficult to evaluate him due to the depth of the Oakland Soldiers, he doesn't get a ton of playing time each game. They have 10+ high DI guys, and they split up the minutes, so there are games where he will only play 5-10 minutes. When I watched him at EYBL in Los Angeles, he came in and he was a high energy guy. He really plays hard on the glass and mostly scored off putbacks. He is the kind of guy that could definitely do damage at a school like Gonzaga. But when it comes to his ultimate upside, I am going to need to keep watching him, because there are so few opportunities to evaluate him on such a loaded AAU team. With that said, I absolutely love him in a conference like the WCC.
On some of the reports that Longrus might be a lock for UCLA:
Josh Gershon: I think schools like Gonzaga, and other schools, will have the opportunity to try to get heavily involved with Richard before UCLA becomes a serious option.
On Skylar Spencer (Price/ Team Jennings)/ Holds Offers From: Gonzaga, USC, Cal, USC, UNLV and Colorado
Josh Gershon: He has the ability to be a good offensive player in time. I have gone out to see him a couple of times this spring and he has been hurt, so I really haven't been able to get a feel for how his game has developed over the past year. You aren't expecting a power forward in high school to be that developed skill-wise. At this stage, you are really trying to project based on their body and the feel for the game. So there is no question he could develop into a good offensive player. The next time I see him is obviously going to be big for me in trying to gauge how much he has developed over the past year.
On why Gonzaga is in a good position with Spencer and what might ultimately be the key factors in his recruitment:
Josh Gershon: It's a big thing to have that offer out there early, because recruiting is about relationships. Obviously, Gonzaga has plenty to offer as a program. So the fact that he hasn't really played this spring, and that there is really nothing to report on his progress, is really big for Gonzaga because the more those coaches can develop that relationship and show that they were one of the first ones to offer the better relationship they will have. Too be able to develop that loyalty and trust with him, that is really going to help.
Now, when schools see him in July, if he plays well and shows some of the same stuff he has shown over the past year, he is going to end up with Pac-12 offers. So at the end of the day, it's going to depend, like it has for so many Gonzaga recruits, is he cool with being the man in the WCC at a great school like Gonzaga, or does he want to compete night in and night out at bigger schools in the Pac-12? Gonzaga has seen this play out in several recruitments, and I think this will be a very similar case to what you have seen before.
On Tyrone Wallace (Bakersfield/ Double Pump)/ Holds Offers From: Gonzaga, Arizona St., Cal, Colorado, Florida St., Fresno St., Nevada, San Diego St., USF, UNLV and Utah
Josh Gershon: I think he is a "1" at the next level, but it is heavily debated among scouts what exactly he is. I just look at the fact that he can handle the ball so well with both hands and he has great vision. If you start to put him out at shooting guard, he is not a great shooter. I think he is someone that can develop into a really good point guard down the line. He is 6'3, he is long and he is going to fill out. Right now, he has such a skinny body, but if you put some weight on him and he gets some college coaching, he is someone that could become a good college player. He is definitely someone that is much more prospect than player at this point and he is definitely not a sure thing either, but he has the chance to be a really good college player down the line.
On the lack of point guard options in the 2012 class, which will be interesting to follow if Gonzaga elects to bring in a point guard this class:
Josh Gershon: There are so few PG's out West, so schools are going to have to take a flyer on guys they might not necessarily love. I don't know if Tyrone Wallace falls into that category, but he does have a high ceiling. If you look at Josiah Turner, the top point guard out West last year, there is no one like Josiah Turner out West this class. That is why guys like Tyrone Wallace, Dominic Artis and Calaen Robinson are really going to benefit in getting scholarship offers from schools that are really desperate for a point guard after the 2011 class didn't produce many either.
On Donny Daniels and the impact he will have on recruiting:
Josh Gershon: The thing with Donny Daniels is that he is extremely respected out West. He is extremely well-liked by the high school coaches and AAU coaches in the LA area and throughout the state. He is an older guy and he has a lot of connections. The biggest thing with him is that you can't really find anyone that is going to say a bad word about Donny Daniels. People really have the highest level of respect for him as a coach, as an evaluator and as a recruiter. I think he really was a big addition for Gonzaga. It's really going to get the school into some doors it might not have been able to get into before. He was obviously a great hire for them.