Like many of the elite programs across the country, Gonzaga has always been successful at recruiting throughout the United States. In the 2016 class, the Zags have landed commitments from Zach Collins, an elite big from Las Vegas, and Killian Tillie, a versatile PF from France.
One of Gonzaga's priority targets in the 2016 class is Zach Norvell, a versatile combo guard from Chicago. Although Norvell is from the Midwest, he wasn't surprised when he started attracting attention from schools around the country.
"I'd say Gonzaga started recruiting me during the AAU season," the Simeon star recalled. The came to see some of my EYBL games and started liking me. I wasn't surprised to be recruited by them, because schools from the West Coast have been recruiting me from the start. It was cool to hear from them, because one of my mentors (Jeremy Pargo) went to Gonzaga and we have conversations about them daily."
The former Gonzaga great has been very open with Norvell about his time in Spokane and what stood out during his experience.
"He (Pargo) told me that Gonzaga was one of the greatest experiences of his life," revealed the Mac Irvin guard. "He told me the coaches are always going to be 100 with you and they aren't going to sugarcoat anything. They are going to be outspoken with you and honest if you are playing bad. That's the kind of guy I am to. I want to know the truth about how I am doing and how I can get better. He told me Gonzaga is like a family away from home and that is really important for me."
This was a huge summer for Norvell, as he showed a versatile offensive game, which culminated in a 53-point performance.
"During this summer I wanted to grow as a leader and be more vocal," he explained. "I waned to expand my game and show that I am not just a catch-and-shoot guy. I wanted to show that I can penetrate and get everyone involved. I want to be a combo guard that can play everywhere."
The 53-point performance was one of the defining moments of the AAU circuit this year.
"It was kinda crazy, because the game before, I didn't shoot as well as I wanted to and we lost to the Arkansas Wings. So before the next game, Jabari (Parker) and I went to eat, and he told me that the great players always forget about the last game. He told me to come out shooting the ball as well as you can, and just see how it goes. It just so happens that I caught fire and my teammates were looking for me the whole game. If you have good teammates, they look for you and let you have a big moment like that."
With his versatility on the perimeter, Norvell fits the mold of the type of guard that Gonzaga has always had great success with.
"Knowing they have had guys like me before, and have been successful, is important," the Mac Irvin Fire guard said. "The coaches have told me about how they specialize in improving guys like me and really expanding their games. It's good knowing they have a plan."
This weekend, the talented Chicago guard and his family will make an official visit to Spokane, which will play a key role in growing the relationship between Norvell and Gonzaga.
"I want to see if I feel comfortable," he explained. "I want to see if it feels like home and see how the players interact and what the facilities are like. I also want to get a feel for what the regular day on campus is like at Gonzaga. Also, the fan base is important and I want to see how they embrace players. How are the fans after the good games, and also the bad games? Also, how does my family feel about it and do they feel comfortable?"
Along with Gonzaga, the combo guard has a couple of other schools that he is thinking will get visits, although no dates have been set.
"I wouldn't say too many schools are standing out too much. Gonzaga has been recruiting me hard and really building the relationship. I know I am going to take a visit to Oregon and probably a visit to Georgetown."
If all goes well, it won't be too long before Norvell makes his decision on where to continue his career.
"I want to do in November so that I can be able to focus on my season," the Chicago guard revealed. "I don't think I want to wait until during the season."