College basketball recruiting expert breaks down incoming freshmen for Gonzaga’s non-conference opponents

The 2022-23 college basketball season is nearly upon us, and the Gonzaga Bulldogs have a ridiculously challenging non-conference schedule in front of them.

Baylor at a neutral site, Kentucky in Spokane, Texas on the road, Alabama on the road, Michigan State on an aircraft carrier and whichever teams they play in the PK85 will make for an intense, pressure-filled slate before they get into league play.

Jason Jordan of Sports Illustrated joined an episode of Locked on Zags to discuss the incoming freshmen on Gonzaga’s non-conference slate, including two programs which have top ten classes per Sports Illustrated’s rankings in Alabama and Texas.

Here is a look at what Jordan had to say about the incoming kids for these programs, and how much trouble they might give Mark Few’s team this year:

Alabama Crimson Tide

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Newcomers: Nick Pringle, Brandon Miller, Jaden Bradley, Rylan Griffen, Noah Clowney

Jaden Bradley Quotes: “You have Jaden Bradley who was one of the best point guards in the country last year, ran the show for IMG. He’s a big 6’4 point guard who knows his role, and I think that’s where he shines. He’s not a guy who is going to command a lot of shots, but he does operate in the quarterback mode. He’d much rather have ten assists than ten points. That’s his whole mindset and that’s what makes him so special. The way he controls pace and dictates tempo is really masterful, and that’s why he was a McDonald’s All-American and one of the top players in the country.”

Brandon Miller Quotes: “And then Brandon Miller, he’s the star of that class. 6’7, long, wiry, scores on all three levels efficiently. He has like an NBA game, and he’s going to check off a lot of boxes on both ends of the floor, but definitely on the offensive end he’s going to be a matchup problem because he’s so athletic, so dynamic, and his motor is just…it’s like ‘Brandon you gotta relax’ you know, he doesn’t have an off switch, and that’s a great thing too.”

Noah Clowney Quotes: “Noah Clowney is another guy in that class who is going to check off a lot of boxes, big and physical.”

Rylan Griffin Quotes: “And then Rylan Griffin is another dynamic guard, plays with a chip on his shoulder. So he’ll be a big player for them in the years to come.”

General Quotes: “Players love Nate Oats man, they love the system they love the quick offense, they love the ‘there are no bad shots’ way of thinking…So that’s a special class, I think we had them ranked No. 4, and I would keep them there even though things have changed. That’s a really good class.”

Texas Longhorns

Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Newcomers: Dillon Mitchell, Arterio Morris, Rowan Brumbaugh

Dillon Mitchell Quotes: “Yeah I love Dillon Mitchell man, on that Montverde team that he played on which won the national title he played with our National Player of the year, Dariq Whitehead, who is headed to Duke. It’s tough man, I don’t know if Dillon wasn’t the best player on that team. Let’s say the most impactful. He’s 6’8, and he tries to downplay the athleticism because he doesn’t want to get typecast, I get that, but that’s where he shines. I like to describe him as super productive, because he impacts the game in ways that you can’t tally. He changes shots, he’s a rim protector even at 6’8, and he’s super aggressive at both ends of the floor. Over the last year he’s developed more perimeter skills, but he really thrives down there as an agile floating four who is great off the high post and can maneuver in the paint and get putbacks. He’s great off that second leap on the offensive glass. He’s just a dynamic, productive player, and he’s going to be a headache in year one.”

Arterio Morris Quotes: “And then they got Arterio Morris, who is also a great player, a big time shot maker, a super physical guy [who] has a football background. So he’s super tough finishing through contact. But you know, he’s knocking that perimeter shot down very efficiently. I think he’s drawn a lot of comparisons to Marcus smart. So he plays in that mold. And you know, a guy who’s definitely gonna make a big impact for Beard in year one.”

Kentucky Wildcats

UK head coach John Calipari waves to fans following practice ahead of their NCAA Tournament match up against Saint Peter’s at the Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, In. on Mar. 16, 2022

Newcomers: Cason Wallace, Chris Livingston, Adou Thiero

Cason Wallace Quotes: “Cason’s a bulldog man. Cason is a guy who competes in everything, like they were doing drills, and he wanted to be the best, you know. And, especially in the scrimmages he was definitely getting after it. And so that mentality just coupled with his dynamic skill set. I mean, he’s, I think he’s got a football background too early on, most of Texas guys do. But, you know, they just fit a mold. And he is a guy who’s not going to be denied when he’s going downhill. So he’s getting to the rack. But what’s really underrated about him is his ability to make plays and his vision. I mean, he’s a really good passer, makes a lot of great decisions. So he’s a high, high IQ guy with the ball, definitely a guy who you want the ball in his hands in crunch time, when the shot clock is running out, he’s gonna make a good decision.”

Chris Livingston Quotes: “And then Chris Livingston, he took a lot of lumps over the summer, because he didn’t have a great summer. We talked about that after the summer, he knew that. And I was really curious to see how he would handle the end of his senior year. And he really answered the call and had a really productive and a really good year, on an Oak Hill team that had a lot of stars. So he’s a guy who’s big six-seven, and he can stretch the defense. [He] shot got better during the high school season. So he’s a streaky shooter. But, you know, he’s also a great rebounder toward the area, and he’s always attacking the glass, and he can guard multiple positions. So he’s going to be a productive guy for John [Calipari]. I think both of them will be productive in year one.”

Baylor Bears

Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Newcomers: Keyonte George, Joshua Ojianwuna

Keyonte George Quotes: “He’s gonna give you a lot of trouble. And I’ll tell you what, we could talk about the meticulous stuff about his game, he scores on all three level, you know, the typical stuff, right? So he’s got all that. Let’s just say he’s got it. The biggest thing I always say this about Keyonte. The biggest thing about him is he doesn’t think that’s what I’m saying. He doesn’t think he’s the best player on the court. He knows it. Knows that all the time. And so he plays that way. He has the mamba mentality. And that’s what makes him special. In the preseason, he’s already leading them in scoring most games, and, you know, he’s gonna be a guy, and he’s got everything, he’s got great size. You know, he’s efficient at scoring from three. And then the thing that puts him over the top with other stars and more in his peers is that he’s efficient at the end of the game, as you saw in his senior year, he had like, three buzzer beaters. He has the ability to put a team on his back and carry them to the winner’s circle. And to your point, in that system, those tough, gritty guards that can really fill it up and get it done. He just fits that mold, and he’s gonna do very well in that system.”

Scott Drew Quotes: “Yeah, I’m telling you, I talk to kids all the time, and they love Drew. I mean, the kids love him and love them. So yeah, they’re they’re definitely a juggernaut on the recruiting trail. And they will be for years to come.”

Michigan State Spartans

Michigan State University Head Coach Tom Izzo claps during the first half of the NCAA Div. 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament preliminary round game at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C. Sunday, March 20, 2022.

Newcomers: Jaxon Kohler, Trey Holloman

Jaxon Kohler Quotes: “I’ve always liked Jaxon. I mean, people know that I talked about him before. Big body definitely fits the Michigan State mold of a big, very productive scores with both hands.”

Trey Holloman Quotes: “And Trey is a guy who almost had to choose between football and basketball. So he’s a tough, tough nose guard, a guy who you’re gonna see [Tom Izzo] screaming at on the sideline, he’s gonna be able to take it, because that’s how Michigan State guards are wired. You know, that’s how they’re wired. Right? I do think they’ll contribute in that system. I do. Because I think they’re really talented. And I think they’re really good pieces. So I don’t I mean, I don’t expect them to be all league or leading scorer or anything like that. But I think there’ll be contributors. And I think there’ll be good pieces for that system this season.”

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