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Player Preview: Pavel Zakharov

13 days until Kraziness in the Kennel

Quick, who’s the highest rated Gonzaga recruit for upcoming season according to 247 sports? It’s Pavel Zakharov, who was ranked 37th best player in the nation and the 9th best center. According to his recruiting profile, he “catches and finishes well. Skilled passer with potential as a shooter. Effective in low and high post. Willing defender but could improve his defensive presence. Has intriguing upside and likely ends up as a first rounder.” Zakharov along with Timme, Ballo and Watson give Gonzaga has four of the nation’s top 50 bigs.

Pavel was recruited by Tommy Lloyd after seeing him during the 2017 FIBA U16 European Championships where he averaged 8.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Pavel knew he wanted to sign with the Zags almost immediately, in fact, both Rivals and 247 sports list no other schools trying to recruit him. He was impressed by Gonzaga’s successes with international players, especially the bigs.

Long, but try not to like this guy after watching this;

Although many sites list his hometown as St. Petersburg, Russia, his Montverde Academy bio page says he was born in “Norway and spoke the language as a child”. If Montverde Academy sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same school attended by Filip Petrusev before coming to Gonzaga. Prior to going to Motverde, Pavel played with a Russian second division team called Zenit. He was originally scheduled to be in the class of 2020, but reclassified because he wanted to “play against and learn from bigger and better players”.

Just after he’d signed with the Zags, on November 18, 2018, Montverde Academy played in the National Prep Showcase, a three day event for the elite basketball schools. Pavel was a breakout star. According to Evan Daniels of 247 sports, he “exceeded expectations with legitimate size and the type of body that will fill out. His hands are terrific, and he consistently made difficult catches in traffic. His touch is deft and he can score it with his back to the basket, particularly over his left shoulder. Zakharov also has a good feel for the game, advanced footwork, plays with patience on the block and is a talented passer. Throw in a 7-1 wingspan, a 8-10.5 standing reach and impressive athleticism (38” step vertical) and he’s quite the prospect.”

Speaking about the same event, Pat Lawless of said, “Pavel Zakharov was one of the biggest breakout stars at the National Prep Showcase. Zakharov stands at 6’11” with great touch and footwork and his upside is scary to think about. Zakharov was very dynamic on the floor and kept his team in both games they played in.” Zakharov finished the three game event averaging14.5 points per game and 7.7 rebounds.

Pavel is eager to demonstrate his improved defense and his touch from deep. Three years ago, most of the recruiting hype centered around Zach Collins, Zach Norvell and Rui Hachimura, but it was Killian Tillie took everyone by surprise with his athleticism, touch from outside and ability to play and contribute immediately. Pavel Zakharov posses the same attributes and like Tillie, could be the sleeper of this year’s superior recruiting class.