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Sam Cunliffe Emerges As A Priority in 2016

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The talented 6'6 Combo Guard is a key target for Gonzaga

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

As we have reported, the 2016 class is setting up to be one of the best in recent Gonzaga history, with the coaching staff making inroads on some elite talent across the country. One area that has long been difficult for Gonzaga to find talent at is the athletic combo guard. However, 2016 may be different, as Sam Cunliffe seems to fit that exact mold.

The talented 2016 combo guard has been to Spokane twice in the past year, most recently on an unofficial visit for Kraziness in the Kennel.

"Being there and just seeing the atmosphere around the school and all the students, it was really special," explained Cunliffe. "Seeing how many students showed up for the event was amazing. It was great being able to see the team and hang out with Coach Few. I learned more about Gonzaga on the visit then on any phone call or anything like that."

Gonzaga has had a ton of success with big guards, with guys like Matt Bouldin and Blake Stepp immediately coming to mind. The coaching staff believes Cunliffe fits in that mold.

"I've been playing point guard most of my life," the 2016 star said. "I want to go play in the NBA, but I also want to be able to fall back on a good education if that doesn't happen. Being able to know which school can prepare me for the next level is important. They (Gonzaga) have had success with guys like me and they know how to develop them. It (Gonzaga) is a really good option and I have a good feel for them."

Not surprisingly, Gonzaga is recruiting Cunliffe harder than any other school at this time.

"I get four or five recruiting calls everyday, but I can tell you that the one consistent call is from Gonzaga," Cunliffe revealed. "They check how my day went and see how everything is going. Out of all the schools recruiting me, they know more about me as a person. Coach Michaelson talks to me a lot and Coach Few has called me a couple of times. Coach Few has called me the most of any head coach. The conversations are really in-depth and they show interested they are in me."

Despite his recruitment really picking up, Cunliffe is staying patient in the process.

"Not really," Cunliffe said when asked if he had a favorite school. "Next summer is going to be a huge one for me. I'm assuming if I play well I will get a lot of interest. I recently went to the West Coast Elite camp and played well and have started hearing from more schools. I'm expecting my recruiting to really pick up and I probably won't make my decision until this time next year."

When it comes to making a decision, there will be some key factors that will be important. However, location won't be one of them.

"Location doesn't matter to me. I'd go play for a school in Antartica if it's the best place," Cunliffe said. "The main things for me are looking at what is going to make me the best basketball player and prepare me for the NBA. The other big thing is lifestyle and where I am living. I went to Colorado, and the feel of the city and town, it just felt like home. Spokane felt the same way for me when I was there."