The Gonzaga Bulldogs are still working on adding to their 2023 recruiting class, which only includes Dusty Stromer at the moment, but players in the class of 2024 are already starting to consider Spokane as a potential college destination.
Among the top names on Gonzaga’s radar for 2024 is Jamari Phillips, a six-foot-two combo guard out of Modesto, California who is currently the No. 28 ranked prospect in his class, per On3’s composite rankings.
Phillips listed Gonzaga in his top six last week, along with his childhood dream school, UCLA, as well as Oregon, Texas Tech, Kansas, and Louisville.
Sports Illustrated’s lead recruiting analyst, Jason Jordan, shared his thoughts about Phillips’ game and his potential fit in Spokane on a recent episode of the Locked on Zags podcast.
“I think the thing that really separates him and something that is a little uncommon is his midrange game,” Jordan commented. “You have to respect it because you know he can get to the cup and when he gets to the cup he’s going to finish very efficiently and in an athletic manner. But his ability to stop in the midrange and pull-up is one of the most dangerous parts of his game because he knocks that shot down very efficiently. I think that is what opens up everything for him on the offensive end.”
While Gonzaga isn’t exactly known for pushing the midrange game (they actually had a very high rate of shot attempts either beyond the arc or right at the rim) having someone on the roster who can help open up that space would be valuable – especially if he develops the ability to pass out of that spot.
Andrew Nembhard was exceptional at getting into midrange territory and making a quick decision to either pull-up and knock down a 15-footer, continue toward the hoop for a lay-in, or make a quick pass to a cutter or a stationary shooter around the perimeter. While Phillips is less likely to be the primary ball-handler in a Gonzaga offense, it still makes sense to have someone with his pull-up skills on the floor to stretch the defense.
Speaking of defense, that’s another area he has plenty to offer at the next level.
“He’s one of the best two-way guards in that class, he really competes on the defensive end,” Jordan continued. “He plays with a lot of fire and an unrelenting motor. So you know he really likes to compete on that end, and that’s always impressive to me because I don’t see it as much if I’m being very honest. A lot of top players tend to rest on defense. Seeing a guy who really brings it on the defensive end is definitely something that stands out.”
It’s unlikely Hunter Sallis and Phillips would be teammates at Gonzaga, as Sallis is probably moving on to the professional ranks in the next two seasons, but Phillips seems like the kind of player who could come in and fill his role as a high-level defensive stopper. He’s undersized currently, at 6’2 and 170 pounds, but some added muscle could make him an excellent defensive player in the WCC.
Phillips grew up wanting to go to UCLA, and while many players don’t end up choosing their dream school, it stands to reason they have an advantage on the recruiting trail at least for now.
However, Few’s high-octane offensive system and recent run of success pushing guards to the next level – especially defensively sound guards like Suggs – is going to give Phillips a lot to think about in the next few months while he ponders his next steps.
Andy hosts the Locked on Zags and Locked on College Basketball podcasts, and serves Locked On in a marketing/digital content creator role as well. He lives just outside Portland with his wife Jenna and dog, Tillie.