• Gonzaga staff takes in 2025 point guard Jeremiah Fears from Joliet West

    Gonzaga staff takes in 2025 point guard Jeremiah Fears from Joliet West

    Mark Few and the Gonzaga Bulldogs remain engaged with a handful of high level prospects in the upcoming 2023 and 2024 recruiting classes, despite having just one player – guard Dusty Stromer – committed at this time.

    In fact, the staff has even started taking a look at prospects in the far, far away class of 2025, including Joliet West (IL) point guard Jeremiah Fears.

    According to Max Feldman of Made Hoops, Gonzaga made the trek to see Fears along with Oregon and Michigan State, while Tommy Lloyd’s Arizona Wildcats followed suit shortly thereafter.

    Fears has already received offers from many high levels programs, despite just now starting his sophomore year in high school. Programs with offers on the table right now include Michigan, Xavier, Illinois, Michigan State, Iowa, Missouri, and Ohio.

    Fears’ older brother, Jeremy, is a commit to Tom Izzo’s program for the class of 2023, so no doubt the Spartans are hoping to secure the pair for the next half decade or so.

    There is little info out there about Fears otherwise, as he has not picked up any rankings at this young stage in his career. Still, multiple Big Ten schools making offers is obviously a sign this kid can really play, and Few and the Zags are smart to get in early and see if they can convince this young man to come out to Spokane and be next in a long line of excellent guards at Gonzaga.

  • Gonzaga back on the international recruiting trail to see 2023 prospect Alex Toohey in Australia

    Gonzaga back on the international recruiting trail to see 2023 prospect Alex Toohey in Australia

    When Tommy Lloyd left Gonzaga to take the head coaching job at Arizona, there was concern the staff would no longer pursue international prospects.

    Gonzaga’s history of successful international recruiting speaks for itself, with players like Ronny Turiaf, Kelly Olynyk, Kevin Pangos, Domantas Sabonis, Pryzemek Karnowski and Rui Hachimura representing some of the best talent the program has ever seen.

    However, the Zags aren’t giving up on the international pool just yet, and in fact they recently made the trek to check out a prospect currently being recruited by another WCC opponent, Randy Bennett’s Saint Mary’s Gaels.

    That prospect is Alex Toohey, a 6’7 forward from the class of 2023 who is currently at the NBA Global Academy in Australia.

    While it’s no surprise to see Bennett and his staff looking at Toohey, it’s nice to see the Zags get involved here as well, especially as his stock has continued to rise. Toohey specifically mentioned conversations with Saint Mary’s, Iowa State, and Providence in an article at 247Sports, and since then it appears he’s received interest not just from Gonzaga but Villanova, Duke, Michigan, Florida and Illinois as well.

    Toohey describes himself as a player who can guard one-through-four on defense, and who can play above the rim while also knocking down shots.

    At 6’7 he is reminiscent of the Julian Strawther and Corey Kispert big wing or small-ball four type player, and if he can shoot anywhere close to the level those two guys can he would be a great addition for the Zags.

  • San Francisco Giants claim former Gonzaga first baseman Taylor Jones off waivers, assign him to Triple-A

    San Francisco Giants claim former Gonzaga first baseman Taylor Jones off waivers, assign him to Triple-A

    The San Francisco Giants have claimed former Gonzaga first baseman Taylor Jones off waivers from the Houston Astros, optioning him to Triple-A Sacramento.

    Houston designated Jones for assignment earlier this week, and San Francisco took a gamble on the 28-year-old who has spent parts of each of the last three seasons in the big leagues.

    Across those three seasons Jones has racked up just 131 plate appearances, slashing .234/.260/.395 with three home runs and an elevated 27.5% strikeout rate.

    Jones has been much better at the Triple-A level, however, posting a career .279/.377/.487 line. He’s looked the part this season as well, hitting .263/.370/.456 with 12 home runs and a nice 10.9% walk rate.

    Jones is out of options after this season, meaning the Giants can keep him at Triple-A all season long but must keep him on the 40-man roster all offseason, or else subject him to waivers again.

    And, if they do keep him around, he’ll have to make the team’s Opening Day roster next year or else he’ll be on waivers once again.

  • David Stockton signs with Indiana Pacers, could reunite with Andrew Nembhard

    David Stockton signs with Indiana Pacers, could reunite with Andrew Nembhard

    The Indiana Pacers brought their roster up to the maximum 20 players on Friday, inking former Baylor guard Kendall Brown to a two-way contract and signing four other players, including former Gonzaga point guard David Stockton.

    Stockton will get a chance to compete for a roster spot in training camp, just two weeks after his returning player rights were traded from the G-League’s Memphis Hustle to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the G-League affiliate for Indiana.

    If Stockton does make the Pacers roster he’ll unite with another former Gonzaga point guard, Andrew Nembhard, who was selected by Indiana with the 31st pick in the 2022 NBA draft.

    Stockton is entering his ninth professional season, and is coming off a run with Team USA in the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers this past month.

    Last season, Stockton played 14 games for Memphis’ G-League affiliate, averaging 11.2 points, 4.3 assists and 2.9 rebounds. He’ll likely be in line for similar production in Fort Wayne if he doesn’t end up making the Pacers roster out of camp.

  • Gonzaga staff travels to see 2023 5-star guard prospect AJ Johnson

    Gonzaga staff travels to see 2023 5-star guard prospect AJ Johnson

    The Gonzaga Bulldogs have mostly focused their recent recruiting trips on the class of 2024, extending an offer to Tacoma point guard Zoom Diallo and expressing interest in guys like Jamari Phillips, Carter Bryant, and Prolific Prep stars Yves Missi and Paul McNeil.

    However, they were reportedly back in on a high profile target in the class of 2023, guard AJ Johnson, who members of the staff reportedly went to go see recently according to 247Sports’ Travis Branham.

    Johnson plays at powerhouse Donda Academy in Simi Valley, California. The six-foot-five combo guard is ranked No. 15 in the class of 2023, per 247’s composite rankings, and has over 20 offers already on the table.

    Schools interested in Johnson’s services include LSU, Louisville, Kansas, USC, NC State, Texas, Creighton, Miami, and Tennessee, among others.

    Gonzaga currently has just one player committed in the class of 2023, combo guard Dusty Stromer, although they are in on a handful of other high profile targets including Kaden Cooper, Wesley Yates, and Jacob McFarland.

    Adding any of those players into the mix would be a huge boost for the future of Mark Few’s program, and sneaking in late and snagging a commitment from Johnson would be the icing on the cake.

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

    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.”

  • Gonzaga has interest in 2024 prospects Paul McNeil and Yves Missi at Prolific Prep High School in Napa

    Gonzaga has interest in 2024 prospects Paul McNeil and Yves Missi at Prolific Prep High School in Napa

    The Gonzaga Bulldogs coaching staff is out and about, trying to find the next great Zags on the recruiting trail.

    Among their latest stops is Prolific Prep High School in Napa, California, where they can take in a pair of top 20 prospects in center Yves Missi and combo guard Paul McNeil.

    McNeil is currently ranked No. 25 in the class of 2024, per 247Sports’ composite rankings, and he’s moving over to Prolific Prep after an excellent start to his high school career in the state of North Carolina.

    “I love, love love love Paul’s game,” Jason Jordan, the lead recruiting analyst at Sports Illustrated, told me on the Locked on Zags podcast. “He won Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of North Carolina. In the history of the Gatorade awards it’s only happened twice where a sophomore won. I’m here in North Carolina and I can tell you he deserved to win that award. And North Carolina is a hotbed for recruiting so that should say a lot.”

    Jordan went on to describe McNeil as a shifty guard, a rarity for his size (6’6 with a 6’9 wingspan). He also has elite shooting efficiency, and is only going to continue to rise with his new team making national headlines.

    “I think his stock will only rise at Prolific because Prolific is a national powerhouse,” Jordan continued. “And I think his stock is gonna rise even more at Prolific but like you said, he’s not hurting for offers. I think he’ll ascend in the class after this season.”

    McNeil of course has attention from UNC, but also has offers from Florida State, Clemson, Indiana, LSU, and Tennessee, with Kansas and Kentucky expressing interest as well.

    Missi is the other prize at Prolific, and it’s not hard at all to see why Gonzaga would show interest in the agile big man, who is currently No. 20 in the class per 247’s composite rankings.

    “I mean, he’s a joy to watch,” Jordan said. “It’s a coach’s dream, right? High energy guy, but super skilled. He’s got great timing on his shot blocking. He’s a really capable rebounder. Where he thrives on the offensive end is his ability to knock down like mid range jump shots. And to finish with both hands. He’s got a really capable jump shot.”

    Gonzaga’s track record with talented bigs, particularly bigs with the ability to step away from the rim, is historically excellent. That alone should make Missi an intriguing target for Mark Few and his squad, and Missi’s projection is still through the roof – making him even more enticing.

    “He’s a guy who, he’s just starting to tap into his potential too, which is kind of scary,” Jordan continued. “So that’s why people rate him so high, because they project him to get there in the near future. But he’s the guy who can still develop a lot. And to your point, I think that will stand out, a program who is able to develop his particular skill set, and that can show him tangible evidence of being able to do that.”

    Missi already has offers from Baylor, Kansas, Michigan, UCLA, and Ohio State, while Kentucky is known to be interested as well. So Gonzaga will have to act fast if they want to get this high-upside, rim-running big man into the Zag development machine starting in 2024.

  • Coaches overwhelmingly support not changing the format of the NCAA Tournament

    Coaches overwhelmingly support not changing the format of the NCAA Tournament

    Earlier this summer, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey found an effective way to rile up the entire college basketball fanbase when he postulated to Sports Illustrated that the NCAA should “take a fresh look” at the NCAA Tournament – and behind closed doors suggested the NCAA should take a look at a format without automatic bids.

    It’s no secret why Sankey – and likely other people in power at Power-5 schools or conferences – would want this. More spots in the NCAA Tournament is the equivalent of printing money, and removing the AQ would eliminate teams from the Big Sky, Sun Belt, WAC, and every other small conference from making the tournament at all outside of very extraordinary circumstances.

    Instead, the bottom seeds of the NCAA Tournament would be underperforming Power-6 programs, likely with .500 or worse overall records, instead of potential miracle squads like Saint Peter’s, Florida Gulf Coast, George Mason and, way back in 1999, an unknown school in Spokane called Gonzaga.

    Fortunately, this idea has been roundly rejected by not just fans and analysts, but coaches as well. In the latest installment of the Candid Coaches series at CBS, Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander interviewed over 100 college basketball coaches from various programs, all anonymously, and asked them this question:

    “Should the NCAA Tournament stay as is or change to a 68-team, all at-large format?”

    97% of respondents indicated they believe the tournament should stay as is, while 3% supported all at-larges. It is the most decisive vote in this survey’s 10-year history, and the responses show a very strong aversion toward making any changes.

    Every quote is worth reading (and a link to the article is above) but here are a few standouts:

    “Don’t mess with the NCAA Tournament. Championship week and the Cinderella teams are what has made the sport as popular as it is. The at-large process is already skewed heavily toward the big boys, so it’s virtually impossible for mids to get at-large bids.”

    “Absolutely remain the same. While I am not one that believes the NCAA Tournament would collapse if it went Power Six only, I do think there would be a material drop in the excitement surrounding the tournament — viewers, brackets filled out, general interest. This in turn will have an impact on viewership and therefore advertising dollars.  All of this will make the impact of the tournament less of an annual event nationally.”  

    “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And if it’s amazing, definitely don’t fix it. REMAIN AS IS.”

    It’s hard to imagine change actually occurring with such a strong sentiment against it, but money talks (loudly) and this is definitely a topic worth keeping a close eye on in the coming years.

  • Jeremy Pargo dishes out five assists as Team USA earns Bronze Medal in FIBA AmeriCup

    Jeremy Pargo dishes out five assists as Team USA earns Bronze Medal in FIBA AmeriCup

    After losing to Mexico in the first game of the FIBA AmeriCup Tournament, the U.S. squad won four of their final five games to win their ninth AmeriCup medal. While the goal was Gold, Team USA settled for Bronze after defeating Canada on Sunday, 84-80.

    Former Gonzaga guard Jeremy Pargo didn’t have his strongest performance to close out his first FIBA event, finishing with zero points, five assists, and four turnovers in 17 minutes of action.

    All told, Pargo posted averages of 8.8 points, 5.7 assists, and 1.8 rebounds while shooting 44% from the floor and 34.8% from deep across six games and 21.2 minutes per night. His 5.7 assists per game was fourth across the entire AmeriCup, behind Tremont Waters (Puerto Rico) Facundo Campazzo (Argentina) and Paul Stoll (Mexico).

    Pargo was one of a handful of U.S. players with NBA experience, including leading scorer Norris Cole (13.7 points), Jodie Meeks, Gary Clark, Frank Mason, and Craig Sword.

    Pargo played at Gonzaga from 2005-2009, averaging 9.3 points and 4.4 assists before embarking on a lengthy professional career. He played in Israel before coming back to the states to play in the NBA with the Memphis Grizzlies. After stops in Cleveland and Philadelphia, Pargo went back overseas and made stops in Israel, Russia, China, Italy, and back in the U.S. with the G-League.

  • Joel Ayayi inks new contract with Orlando Magic, reunites with Jalen Suggs

    Joel Ayayi inks new contract with Orlando Magic, reunites with Jalen Suggs

    The Orlando Magic signed former Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Joel Ayayi to a contract on Monday, reuniting him with fellow guard Jalen Suggs. Assuming rosters stay put, three NBA teams will now have multiple Zags on the roster: Orlando, Memphis (Killian Tillie and Brandon Clarke) and Washington (Corey Kispert and Rui Hachimura).

    Terms of Ayayi’s new contract were not revealed, but per the team press release the six-foot-four combo guard will wear No. 17 for his new team.

    Ayayi’s new contract doesn’t guarantee him a spot on Orlando’s roster, and he’ll be competing with a whopping nine(!) guards currently on the team over the next month or so until the season begins.

    Ayayi has already bounced around quite a bit during his brief professional career. After going undrafted in 2021, Ayayi caught on with the Los Angeles Lakers in summer league, before ultimately signing a two-way deal with Washington. He saw action in just seven NBA games, but played very well in the G-League with the Capital City Go-Go’s, averaging 10.7 points, 6.6 assists and 5.7 rebounds last season, while logging 30.9 minutes per game.

    After a good, but not great, run through summer league this year with the Atlanta Hawks, Ayayi’s returning player rights were traded to Orlando’s G-League affiliate in Lakeland, which ultimately led to his new contract.

    Now he’ll get a chance to compete alongside a former Gonzaga teammate in Orlando, with a difficult but attainable path to regular NBA playing time awaiting him.