Jerry Meyer, a must follow if you are interested in recruiting or college basketball at all, tweeted this out on Wednesday.
UConn, Mississippi State, Virginia, UNC & Gonzaga have classes which could have a big impact down the road. https://t.co/Wt9beD3RGB— Jerry Meyer (@jerrymeyer247) April 27, 2016
The headline pretty much says it all. The Gonzaga Bulldogs, with their highest rated class ever, are built to last. That phrase in itself is excellent.
But that phrase in itself also lends a little bit of what we can expect from our highly rated recruits. Built to last doesn't necessarily equate to built to win now, and next season, that is where we might have to temper our expectations a bit.
As we saw with Josh Perkins, just because you are a highly rated recruit doesn't mean you are going to be a highly rated recruit that is one of the top players in the league. There is a reason that there are only so many one-and-dones in college play. Previously, players like Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram wouldn't have even given coaches the time of day in the recruitment process. It would've been off to the NBA for them.
The times have been different for quite some time. And realistically, the Zags would probably be hard pressed to be able to secure the services of any of those players. Adam Morrison and Kelly Olynyk were able to go skip out of college early because they put in their due diligence on the college level. Domantas Sabonis always had much more experience playing top level competition than your average sophomore. Austin Daye? Well, I've never been quite able to figure out him.
But I digress. The Gonzaga Bulldogs aren't one of those one-and-done teams. They never will be, and there is nothing wrong with that. But what that also means is that many of the players the Zags get, even as highly rated as the recruits might be, are always those unfinished products.
Gonzaga recruits are like Michelangelo trying to coax the sculpture out of the block of marble. They take work, and when the work is done, often times they are stellar college players. Next season, this is most likely going to be the case.
The Zags will be welcoming two, potentially three, foreign players. They will be welcoming a center who could probably use a couple of added pounds before he is subjected to the relentless bruising that is WCC refs never calling fouls, and we have a guard who should be ready to go solely because he is coming from Chicago and has basically played against top-level competition all year.
But they are joining a team that lost four players (so far). As much promise that lies within next season's team, there is still plenty of work that needs to be done. The Zags will have to figure out how to hopefully stabilize the backcourt. The Zags will need to find a way to fill the hole that Kyle Dranginis provided. The Zags will have to find a way to completely alter their frontcourt oriented identity sponsored by Kyle Wiltjer and Sabonis.
All in all, that was a real roundabout way to saying that the Gonzaga way has always been the Ford Tough model. Gonzaga doesn't rebuild it just reloads, but the Bulldogs have always done it in a way that has fit the model they built. Recruits generally come to Gonzaga for a four-year college experience, and that isn't going to change anytime soon.
We will have all season to dwell on the question marks heading into next season for the Zags, because they have plenty. This team lost a lot, and it is also gaining a lot. What is most important though, is that it sounds like the best is yet to come for the current makeup of this team.