Although the Gonzaga Bulldogs lost a substantial portion of their core squad to early entry/graduation last year, the Zags aren’t skipping a beat with the recruiting class of 2019.
The class of 2019 is ranked No. 12 overall by 247 Sports, featuring Drew Timme, Anton Watson and Brock Ravet, and hitting abroad for Pavel Zakharov, Oumar Ballo, and Martynas Arlauskas. In itself, those six players could form a rather nice starting five, but when you throw in Killian Tillie, Corey Kispert, Admon Gilder, and Ryan Woolridge into the mix, you have some breathing room for minutes.
The Zags have already locked down two high-profile recruits for the class of 2020, so it doesn’t look like this recruiting train is hopping off the rails any time soon. Let’s take a quick gander at the players the Zags have offered/are interested in, and where anything might stand (all rankings are where the players sits nationally according to 247 Sports).
Class of 2020
Julian Strawther, 6’7 winger, No. 52
Dominick Harris, 6’4 combo-guard, No. 55
Jalen Suggs, 6’5 combo-guard, No. 13
Mr. Suggs is the cream of the crop, and you have surely heard quite a bit about him if you have spent any time on Gonzaga-related social media. Dominick Harris, after helping land Julian Strawther, has been on the Suggs train hard, and all indications are Suggs will eventually commit to Gonzaga and focus on basketball.
Suggs is also a prized football recruit, but has indicated in interviews that his focus will be on basketball, and that he plans on spending just one-year in college. Although Zach Collins ended up leaving the Zags after his freshman year, Suggs would realistically be the first recruit to enter Spokane with that one-and-done hype from the very first day.
Walker Kessler, 7’0 center, No. 16
The Zags made Kessler’s final six count, alongside Auburn, Cal, Michigan, Duke, and North Carolina. Interestingly enough, Kessler, whose father and older brother both played at Georgia, decided against those Bulldogs from the get go. 247 Sports is projecting Kessler to land at Duke. Kessler says he plans on taking an official visit to Gonzaga, although he has not scheduled it yet.
Despite his lumbering size, Kessler has an impressive offensive touch, able to hit some mid-range jumpers and knocking down a few long-range threes. He projects like the classic Gonzaga big man, a dying breed in the positionless NBA style of play we see a lot of teams trying to employ. With Killian Tillie departing the front court after the 2020 season, Kessler could arrive at Gonzaga and make an immediate impact in his freshman season.
Daishen Nix, 6’5 point guard, No. 10
Presuming Jalen Suggs lands with Gonzaga, it seems a bit odd to have Nix join the mix as well. Recruiting is a tricky beast, however, and there is no point in leaving all your eggs in one basket. That is why Mark Few was in person watching Nix during the Pangos Premier 80 Showcase earlier in July.
Scouts say Nix is will be a successful point guard with solid NBA upside, although he needs to improve his shooting away from the basket. He has the instincts there for basketball, and is a solid defender with elite passing vision on offense.
Class of 2021
Kaden Perry, 6’8, No. 114
Paolo Banchero, 6’9, No. 4
The Zags have started out the offer season on the class of 2021 with their eyes set sky high, joining the recruiting battle for the best player in the state of Washington and the best forward in the country. Banchero has received offers from Duke, Kentucky, and North Carolina, among others, and because he is from Seattle, the 247 Sports Crystal Ball is plopping him at UW.
The Zags are talking with Banchero virtually every day. With the recent string of Gonzaga bigs enjoying success in the NBA (Kelly Olynyk, Domantas Sabonis, and Zach Collins), the Zags have a vision of success they can point to. Obviously, Duke, Kentucky, and North Carolina all can make the same claim. This will probably be one of the hardest recruiting battles out there.
Chet Holmgren, 7’0, No. 6
Holmgren is a tantalizing prospect, a bit in the vein of Bol Bol. He is incredibly tall and incredibly lanky, but is he is hitting his shot—he is essentially impossible to defend.
Of course, he will need to add some weight, that goes without saying. Most kids who are 16-ish and are seven feet tall haven’t had a standard route through puberty. Like Banchero, landing Holmgren is going to take some work. He has over 20 offers already, and we can only expect that number to fly through the roof as the summer months turn into fall.
One potential ace up the sleeve? Jalen Suggs attends the same high school as Holmgren.
Nathan Bittle, 6’10, No. 14
So far, the Zags are shooting for the stars with the class of 2021. Bittle hails from Central Point, Oregon, and is already getting a lot of attention from every single Pac 12 school. As of now, he plans on taking a visit to Spokane eventually. He has flashed some range in his shot and looks rather fluid on offense. However, like Holmgren, and basically all other super tall teens, Bittle needs to still fill out the rest of his body, weighing well under 200 pounds at the moment.