Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Wild World of Gonzaga Recruiting

One thing the Gonzaga coaching staff does amazingly well is keep secrets. This becomes increasingly frustrating when it comes to recruiting; especially the 2009 class. As a passionate follower of college recruiting, I have never seen so many waves of kids go pass through Gonzaga's radar only to commit elsewhere. Don't believe me? Check out our May breakdown of the 2009 recruting prospects. We are proud that Sam Dower has stuck around and committed to Gonzaga but other than that, it has been an absolute guessing game. The flurry of confusion began when Brock Osweiler decommitted. The big man from Montana was a sure fire Zag and seemed to be in love with the program. College football and Dennis Erickson took him away from Spokane and that sent the staff scrambling. Even in this haze, we still know a few things...

What We Know: Sam Dower and Mangisto Arop are the newest Gonzaga Bulldogs. Both recently signed and appear to be stars in the making for Mark Few. Dower is a big man from Minnesota and Arop is an athletic guard from north of the border. Mangisto, or Manny was a huge surprise for Gonzaga fans. He burst on the scene and basically the first news we heard about him was the fact that he committed to Gonzaga. Dower, on the other hand, was part of TKR's first batch of recruits to watch and he looks to be a real gem. We got to watch him scrimmage with the team a little bit and he has skills but will have to add some weight to truly dominate.

What We Think We Know: Gonzaga recruiting is so odd that the United States government is getting involved. The most frustrating, yet promising, part of 2009 recruiting is the Bol Kong saga. Kong's a Sudanese native who is being blocked from the country because his native country is one that has harbored terrorists. The situation appears to be resolving and all signs point to the fact that Kong will get this worked out and play at Gonzaga. This is complete and total rumor but the sources are trustworthy and I'm sure the school is doing a lot to get this kid in the country. Kong is supposedly a rare talent and a guy that could be a star at Gonzaga. Words like phenom get tossed around when discussing Kong and it would be such a great story if he would be able to get into the country. I'm sure the rumors will continue to circulate and the general public will be kept in the dark but you've got to root for a kid like Bol Kong.

What We Would Like to Know: How does this class end? The 2009 recruiting
class is the most important class that Mark Few has ever recruited. Gonzaga will be losing a number of program defining players. Jeremy Pargo, Micah Downs, Josh Heytvelt, and Ira Brown will be leaving. Many believe that Austin Daye will be headed to the NBA after this season, a thought that I am not totally sold on yet. If Daye leaves, Gonzaga will be pencil thin in the post. Two names that have been hanging around for quite a while are Kelly Olynyk and Daequon Montreal. Montreal (right) is a star at one of the best junior college programs in the nation and Olynyk is a 6'10'' guard-forward that is starting to blow up in Canada. Montreal has been outstanding so far in his sophomore season at the College of Southern Idaho. In recent action, Montreal had 23 points and 18 boards. He seems to fit what Gonzaga needs but his name is getting mentioned less and less when it comes to Gonzaga recruiting. Olynyk visited last weekend and seemed to be enthralled with the program but he's been growing so much and so fast that no one really knows where he fits on the court. The Zags don't really need a point guard which means Olynyk is going to have to add a lot of weight to that 6'10'' frame and become a solid wing/post player if he winds up here.

My Best Guess: I know I'm going to look back on this in a couple of months and kick myself. I want to see Daequon Montreal as a Zag. I really think that he is college ready right now and that is something that Gonzaga needs. Especially if Daye leaves, the Zags are going to need bodies in the paint that are ready to contribute and Montreal could be that guy. While I write this, my gut feeling tells me that this won't happen but I'm holding out hope. We should be heading over to Idaho at some point this season to watch Daequon in action but all reports have been extremely positive. As far as Olynyk is concerned, I'm in the wait and see mode. I'd imagine that the staff is going to be cautious with him and see how he progresses this year. He's got the body and length to be a star but it is still kind of a mystery about where he will play on the court once he gets to college.

There is always a chance that neither of these guys wind up at Gonzaga and we get some foreign player or a high-profile transfer. In fact, that may be the odds on favorite right now. The perfect situation right now is if Kong comes and Daye stays. We'd have one more scholarship to throw around and maybe attract a transfer that is ready to play in the paint. That would take pressure of Sam Dower to contribute right away.

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