Now that we are in the long, dark, and cold offseason, it is time for us to take a big look at the Gonzaga Bulldogs recruiting efforts for the upcoming seasons.
First off, let’s take a quick look at the scholarship chart, as it stands right now.
The Zags have a solid core going in for the 2018-19 season. Josh Perkins will theoretically be the veteran point guard, and he will be backed up by both Jesse Wade and Joel Ayayi. Zack Norvell and Rui Hachimura are pegged to be explosive scoring options, with Corey Kispert providing some size on the wing.
That said, you can easily see the areas where the Zags need to focus, and that is up front. Gonzaga will only have Killian Tillie and Jacob Larsen as the big bodies up front, and that leads directly into one of Gonzaga’s biggest priority recruits for the 2018 class.
Kamaka Hepa, Jefferson High School, Portland, Oregon
Hepa is a 6’9, 210 power forward who would be the jewel of the Zags recruiting class. He is a four-star forward who is ranked as the top player out of Oregon, and the No. 38 player nationally, according to 247Sports. Luckily for the Zags, the Crystal Ball of 247Sports also has Hepa attending GU.
Now, a player this good is going to come with a lot of competition. And go figure, there are a lot of names you will recognize on this list of offers: Texas, USC, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Wichita State, and Stanford.
His profile is also only going to increase as time goes on. He originally grew up in Barrow, Alaska (the northernmost city in the United States) and is a two-time winner of the Gatorade Player of the Year. He moved to Portland last season to finish out his final two years of high school (and get a bigger name in the process).
Hepa has been slow to take his visits to schools, and his recruitment looks like it will be in for the long haul. The Zags have been on Hepa nearly forever, and they boast the advantage of another Jefferson High School alum to sing the praises of Mark Few and staff in Silas Melson.
Taeshon Cherry, St. Augustine High School, San Diego, California
Cherry is another four-star power forward, coming in at 6’8 and 210 pounds. He is the No. 7 ranked player in the state of California and the No. 64 ranked player overall by 247Sports. If the Zags were able to get both Cherry and Hepa, then you have your front court set for a lifetime (or four years).
The Zags have offered Cherry, and his official visit is coming in the near future. He is taking his recruiting rather slowly, but in mid-May, he revealed his final eight schools: Arizona, Florida State, Go Zags, Oregon, San Diego State, Texas A&M, UCLA, and USC.
Going forward, it is a surefire bet that the Zags will see Arizona tied in with any recruit from the west coast, and landing Cherry would be finding a slight crack in that recruiting armor.
Tevian Jones, Chandler High School, Chandler, Arizona
Jones is a 6’5 winger...and probably let’s just stop there. Although he has reported Gonzaga has been recruiting him, the fact of the matter is he is the best player in the state of Arizona. And not to harp on a broken drum, but the University of Arizona exists in Arizona. The Zags haven’t offered Jones yet, and he hasn’t taken an official visit, but the interest is there.
For Gonzaga to land Jones, they will have to prove that there is room in the starting rotation for him immediately, and that may be difficult to do with Kispert and Hachimura blocking the entrance.
That, for the most part, is it on the big name players the Zags are recruiting domestically. David Singleton, who they made a hard push for, and Brandon Williams both decided to commit elsewhere. As it stands right now, the Zags have five scholarships to give.
Which means we can probably expect a foreign name to jump up out of nowhere (sort of like Joel Ayayi), and possibly we can expect a few grad transfers to pop in as well (after next season).