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Thread: The combination of athleticism and understanding how to play smart ...

  1. #1

    Default The combination of athleticism and understanding how to play smart ...

    I love the way Gonzaga recruits and attracts great kids who play smart. I love the way the program develops character. Most of the players come in as quality individuals with their focus being good ambassadors of the game and the university, and if they don't come in that way, they are molded into better people.

    Most of the players the Zags recruit, play smart and understand the right way to play the game. When GU does attract the rare high-level athlete, it comes with a caveat. Those players have off-court issues, character issues or they don't have the capability to understand the system enough to play extended minutes. In essence, their athleticism is wasted on the bench.

    A lot of seasons, GU does not have that elite athlete. Are they perpetually overachieving with inferior athletes, thus lulling fans into a sense that that can always achieve more when they are really scraping the ceiling of their powers to keeping winning games?

    Why is it that the program can't lure those elite athletes? Is the system too complex? Do players with character and high-level athleticism only go to your typical McDonald's All-America programs (aka Duke, Arizona, etc.)?

    It is rare that the program attracts ATHLETIC players who are both quality individuals with character, the ability to understand schemes and read the game as it comes to them. I appreciate as much the type of kid who comes to Gonzaga, as I do their talents, but that being said, they need more high-level athletes (aka Aaron Gordon).

    It's unclear if the Zags could ever attract one or more of those elite-level athletes at a time. Most years, they have skilled players who lack elite athleticism.

    The Zags seem to get one at a time, and no more. Sometimes their roster doesn't even have that top-tier athlete.

    The program values smart basketball minds more than anything, first and foremost. But will there ever be a time when the Zags' program attracts one or more superior athletes at a time?

    Until GU can attract more of those top-line athletes, then can we assume that the program will continually be stuck at the Round of 32 with an occasional Sweet 16 berth?

    I am left to scratch my head about the Zags' ceiling.

    I will never stop rooting for these quality kids. I love all their stories and the people they are and the people they become in the GU program, thanks to the tremendous coaches and people at the university.

    I can take some solace that they will be molded into quality citizens, but each stunted run in the NCAA tournament becomes increasingly harder to comprehend.

    Any thoughts on expectations and this hollow feeling when the season ends shy of expectation annually? Is everybody's expectation too high for the ceiling of the GU program?


    A Non-GU graduate who cares too much about the program

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2014


    For the most part, Aaron Gordon type of players are going to go to BCS powerhouse schools, plain and simple. You can always hope someone slips under the radar or transfers. I really don't know his history, but yesterday Wichita State's Cleanthony Early looked like the best player on the court going up against Kentucky's loaded line up. Don't know how he ended up at WSU, he's both very athletic and a skilled, talented basketball player. So it can happen.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007


    About a half a dozen years ago, it became apparent to me for the need to recruit high IQ players with athleticism. It's not a rocket science observation, but landing them are very difficult as that's what every single coach wants.

    I've had several posts about this and the challenges coach and the program face. I felt Demitri Goodson was the first player that Few recruited that fit the description and that didn't turn out as well as many would have hoped (except Western Kentucky fans).

    Many can argue, however, that one of our best guards ever - Santangelo - would fit the description of high IQ/high athleticism and there are other examples, but they are few and far between.

    Bottom line to me: the WCC makes it an uphill battle to recruit at a national championship level. We've done more with less, and will chip away at the perceptions and hopefully craft our own story.
    Go Zags!!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2013


    Recruiting at Gonzaga is very difficult imo. We need to mine the gold as close to home as possible. When we do see players like Josh Huestis from Great Falls ,MT playing for Stanford you say that's what we're up against when we want the combo athlete. Stanford gets first crack on national level at our type of elite athlete.
    As far as Aaron Gordon goes there are not to many of his type and unless his parents both met at GU and he was conceived after a big GU victory I don't believe that type of athlete even considers GU. Its Kansas, Arizona,Duke,North Carolina,Kentucky

    Arizona's got Findley Prep in Vegas as a feeder. You watch what happens in the future with that connection. It's a minor league program for AZ

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007


    I think this topic has been exhausted. However, it remains a fair question.

    The answer, too, has been exhausted. But it too, remains a fair question.

    Follow the money.
    Go TEAM Zags !

    "John Stockton is one of the true marvels, not just of basketball, or in America, but in the history of Western Civilization!”
    Tom Hammond: “Wow, that’s a pretty strong statement. I guess I don’t have a good handle on world history.”
    Bill: “Well Tom, that’s because you didn’t go to UCLA." - Bill Walton

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007


    I think it's pretty lazy to dismiss other team's recruiting success as the result of something improper.

    We don't have the only clean program in America.

    Mark Few prioritizes skilled offensive players in his recruiting, so we have a skilled offensive team.

    Great athletes with a high skill level are going to Duke, Kansas, UCLA, Arizona, and the likes. And if they don't go blue blood, they'd probably prefer UW, Oregon, Stanford, and some other school to Gonzaga. We recruit internationally because those kids don't have the built in bias against Gonzaga and the WCC.

    In order for us to get a GREAT athlete, we have to be willing to take a chance on a really raw kid that may or may not develop basketball skills. Sure, we've rolled the dice a couple times with transfers and Jucos, but when was the last time we recruited a freshman that was a raw athlete that was willing to work hard? It's been a while.

    Would love to see one of those types on the roster every year or so.

    Quote Originally Posted by gamagin View Post
    I think this topic has been exhausted. However, it remains a fair question.

    The answer, too, has been exhausted. But it too, remains a fair question.

    Follow the money.

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