Finally, it is time to start thinking about the next Gonzaga game. After an incredibly dominating win over West Virginia on Monday, Gonzaga will take on the University of South Dakota on Sunday afternoon. This will be GU's final tune up game prior to heading to Orlando for the Old Spice Classic.
South Dakota is a very interesting program. A former Division II powerhouse, South Dakota has been undergoing a four year transition process from DII to DI hoops. This marks their first season as a full fledged DI program. In case you weren't aware, the 'transition' process gives very little benefit to the program. Head Coach Dave Boots was attempting to recruit DI players during this transition period so his guys could stay competitive but his program wasn't allowed to participate in the NCAA Tournament which drove a lot of potential recruits away. Long story short, last season was Boots' first losing season in his 25 year career at South Dakota and it is not something he is looking to repeat.
The Coyotes return one starter from last year's program. They've brought in seven new players, two of which will have to sit out this season due to transfer rules. It will be a process for Boots and the Coyotes. While they have a great reputation as a DI program, he is virtually starting over in terms of making people understand his programs at the DI level. The guy he will be relying on quite a bit this season will be former Kansas State guard Juevol Myles who has one year of eligibility for South Dakota. Myles figures to be a shoot-first point guard for Boots and will be relied on to score a lot for the inexperienced Coyotes.
Without getting too in depth into South Dakota, this should obviously be a game that Gonzaga should win with ease. Most importantly, this will be the final game the Bulldogs will be without big man Kelly Olynyk. The junior center from Canada was suspended for the first three games of the season for a violation of student life policy. He figures to see significant minutes when he returns to action in the Old Spice Classic.
Edwards, Meikle Make It Official
The early signing period for college basketball has come and gone and, as expected, Mark Few received faxed LOIs from two 2013 prospects. Ryan Edwards, a 7-footer from Montana and Lucas Meikle, a wing from Bellarmine Prep in the Seattle-Tacoma area have both singed on to play at Gonzaga next season.
Both commitments were surprising at the time. Neither Meikle or Edwards are nationally known commodities but both possess some qualities worth getting excited about. In particular, the staff may have really done a nice job in getting Ryan Edwards. He sounds like he possesses similar skills to current Zag Przemek Karnowski. An article over the summer by Yahoo's Jeff Eisenberg outlines what makes Edwards such an intriguing propsect:
Glacier High coach Mark Harkins isn't sure how Edwards stacks up against his peers from out of state, but he's confident the senior-to-be is one of the better Division I prospects to come out of Montana in recent years. Although Edwards needs to shed weight to avoid being a liability running the floor in college, Harkins touted his deft footwork, soft hands and deceptive athleticism, noting that the big man is a member of the school's state-caliber tennis team.
"When I talked to the coaches who recruited him, what they see in Ryan is that he has incredible feet and incredible hands for someone his size," Harkins said. "He has great touch on the ball. He can shoot the high school 3-point shot with a lot of accuracy. Then he has really begun to develop his low-post game. He's a true center with his back-to-the-basket."
Depending on how things work out this coming offseason, early indications are that both these guys are likely redshirt possibilities. Mark Few will lose Elias Harris and Guy Landry Edi to graduation after this season but will return Sam Dower, Kelly Olynyk, and Przemek Karnowski pending transfer, NBA, etc. In that case, Edwards can sit out and get in DI shape. Meikle will also be a prime candidate to sit out and gain strength as he will enter Gonzaga severely undersized. If he is going to be a division one swingman, he'll need to bulk up so he can post up.