For as much as we cover recruiting here, I'm sure the large majority if you could name each member of the 2014 recruiting class in a few seconds and probably list their high school and other random facts. The 2014 class, and more broadly, the 2014-15 newcomers simply have Bulldog fans salivating for the possibilities. While Mark Few and the staff have brought in elite talent before, I'd argue this incoming group is the best. Not only does the staff have an elite trio of guards coming in, but he also has a blue-chip transfer and possibly the next outstanding Euro big man to descend upon American collegiate basketball.
While we've covered Perkins, Melson, Alberts, Wiltjer, and...possibly Sabonis to the point of sickness at times, let's now take a look at what they have been up to recently and what we can expect from them next season. The great news is that they all have a very good thing in common...they are used to winning.
The Members Of #ZagClass14...
Josh Perkins, PG, Huntington Prep (West Virginia)
Status Update: Perkins has been a key member of the elite Huntington Prep team in 2014 after transferring from Regis High School in Colorado. Huntington Prep is 27-4 and currently ranked no. 11 by MaxPreps.com. They were recently selected to partake in the eight-team Dick's Sporting Goods National High School tournament which will crown a prep national champion. Throughout the season, Perkins has filled the stat sheet for Huntington and is currently averaging 8 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals per game.
Potential 2014-15 Impact: There's little doubt that Perkins will make an impact next season. With that said, there are still several unknowns with his game. There is a legitimate possibility that his impact is similar to Matt Bouldin's when he first arrived at Gonzaga. Bouldin averaged about 28 minutes, 9 points, and 3 assists per game as a freshman and Perkins is a similar player. While his perimeter jumper isn't as refined as Matt's was, he is a superior passer and should be able to take a ton of weight off Kevin Pangos' shoulders so he can continue to play some off the ball. The key will be to see how Josh handles the speed of the D1 game. He has struggled to create his own shot and get by defenders on the dribble. That said, his passing prowess alone should land him plenty of minutes next season.
Silas Melson, CG, Jefferson High School (Oregon)
Status Update: Melson concluded his high school career this past Saturday as he led his Jefferson Democrats team to their second straight state championship. It was a wacky route to the title for Jefferson as they only played the title game with 6 players due to some off the court issues impacting the rest of their team. I don't have the official numbers but Melson had to average in the 25-30 point range as a senior. A week ago, The Oregonian published this great piece on Melson who has really carried Jefferson since he burst on the scene a few years ago.
Potential 2014-15 Impact: Silas is really going to surprise some people next season. While most of the attention has gone to Josh Perkins, Melson has been able to fly under the radar all while establishing himself as the best player in the state of Oregon. Like Perkins, I also feel like a redshirt possibility for Melson is out of the question as his game is well-rounded enough to play right away at Gonzaga. Melson is an underrated athlete that could assume the defensive stopper role from Gary Bell. He's tenacious on that end of the floor and plays with an endless motor. At the end of next year, I wouldn't be surprised if Melson challenged Perkins for top freshman in a Gonzaga unform.
Bryan Alberts, Wing, Village Christian High School (California)
Status Update: It wasn't the senior season Alberts was hoping for as nagging injuries sidelined him for a majority of the 2013-14 season. He did return to action down the stretch for Village Christian and played very well. This past Saturday, Village Christian's season came to a close in the California regional quarterfinals. Alberts probably averaged in the mid-teens during his shortened senior season.
Potential 2014-15 Impact: Alberts is definitely the biggest unknown of the recruiting class. He received high major interest throughout his recruitment so the Zags definitely got a good one but the injuries are always a concern. Since David Stockton is the only backcourt member to be leaving the program after this year, it may be reasonable to expect Alberts to redshirt as Bell, Pangos, Dranginis, Coleman, and likely Perkins and Melson will all be getting a majority of the backcourt minutes. That said, Alberts has the skill and size to play immediately, it will just depend if the staff wants to stagger the class a bit. The situation reminds me a bit of when the staff signed Bell, Pangos, and Dranginis in the same class and elected to redshirt Dranginis.
Kyle Wiltjer, Forward, University Of Kentucky
Status Update: Undergoing "The Olynyk Process" as a redshirt transfer this season.
Potential 2014-15 Impact: Even if you say you don't have unrealistic expectations for Kyle Wiltjer, I'm guessing you do. Even if you aren't full admitting it, a small piece of you is currently thinking "man, I really think Kyle can do what Kelly did in 2012-13." It's okay to think that way as long as you realize that it is unrealistic as Olynyk's transformation was something seemingly out of Greek mythology. What we do know about Wiltjer is that in the 2012-13 season, he averaged 10 points and 4 rebounds per game in about 24 minutes per game at Kentucky. He's likely to slide into the hole at power forward left by Sam Dower and start from day one. The key for Wiltjer will be exactly what he has been working on with the Gonzaga training staff. Can his physical attributes catch up with his incredible basketball skill as they did with Olynyk? If that happens and Wiltjer can become more comfortable in the low post and on the defensive end, then the sky is truly the limit for the skilled transfer.
Of course, there is one more potential additional to this already ridiculously talented crop of newcomers but, we'll cover him when things become official.