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2015 Early Signing Period Breakdown: West Coast Conference

  • Best Player: Zach Norvell, Gonzaga
  • Best Potential: Zach Collins, Gonzaga
  • Best Scorer: Jordan Ford, St. Mary’s
  • Best Shooter: Connor Harding, BYU
  • Best Rebounder: Yoeli Childs, BYU
  • Best Passer: Elijah Lee, Pepperdine
  • Best Defender: Yoeli Childs, BYU
  • Best Glue Guy: Donald Gipson, Loyola Marymount
  • Best Athlete: Killian Tillie, Gonzaga

1. Gonzaga Bulldogs

Zach Norvell | 6′-5″ | SG | Simeon (IL)
Rui Hachimura | 6′-6″ | SF | Japan
Killian Tillie | 6′-8″ | PF | France
Jacob Larsen | 6′-10″ | C | Denmark
Zach Collins | 7′-0″ | C | Bishop Gorman (NV)

Like clockwork, as each year moves on, the Gonzaga coaching staff complies a combination of talented high school prospects, international standouts and proven transfers on the recruiting trail. For 2016, Gonzaga has perhaps the most geographically diverse recruiting class in history, with two prospects from the United States and three International standouts.

Gonzaga’s has a bevy of frontcourt options in this class, but perhaps the player who will get the first crack is blue chip center in Zach Collins. He played behind current freshmen Stephen Zimmerman (UNLV) and Chase Jeter (Duke) at Bishop Gorman as an underclassmen, but that show will be all his this year. Collins has significant size but his playing time will likely be dictated by which current Gonzaga big men declare for the NBA draft. Like Collins, Jacob Larsen has great size and was pursued by several high-major schools. He was a double-double performer in the 2013 FIBA U16 European B tournament, and will have time to develop.

Two promising International prospects could compete for time at forward. Presumably Killian Tillie will get the first crack, as head coach Mark Few called him a “dynamic athlete” and a face-up power forward prospect. While Tillie needs to add strength, he starred as a high-percentage performer in the 2013 FIBA U16 European A tournament. Adding to the flavor of the roster, Japanese forward Rui Hachimura is an intriguing prospect who can afford to be brought along slowly. According to a press release, Hachimura will be only the 5th Japanese player to be on a men’s D-1 basketball team.

While there’s plenty of options in the frontcourt, Chicago-native Zach Norvell should have the ability to get on the floor early on the wing. Playing in a top high school basketball program, Norvell can shoot and can capably play in both backcourt slots. Gonzaga beat some prominent programs to convince Norvell to head west.

2. Brigham Young Cougars

Connor Harding | 6′-6″ | SF | Highland (ID)
Gavin Baxter | 6′-8″ | SF | Timpview (UT)
Yoeli Childs | 6′-8″ | PF | Bingham (UT)

The Cougars announced a quality three man recruiting class comprised of mostly players from close to Provo. Scoring and shooting are both brought into the fold from Connor Harding. He’s a lanky guard who can score from the wing and also create with teh ball. Harding is a quality outside shooter. Bullish post Yoeli Childs and skilled Gavin Baxter are already familiar with each other’s games, having played together for the Utah Prospects on the grassroots circuit. They play a complementary style that makes their sum better than its parts. Childs is aggressive and physical, while Baxter is an athlete that runs the floor in transitionwell. It’s easy to see multiple starters coming from this talented group for BYU.

3. Saint Mary’s Gaels

Jordan Ford | 6′-1″ | PG | Folsom (CA)
Elijah Thomas | 6′-5″ | SG | Sunrise Mountain (AZ)
Jock Perry | 7′-1″ | C | Australia

Head coach Randy Bennett espoused excitement regarding the Gaels’ trio of newcomers, and there’s certainly reason to believe he’s got a terrific group headed in. From Saint Mary’s backyard, Jordan Ford looks like a multi-year starter and was a steal in the backcourt. He is an exciting point guard who can score the ball with a quickness. Ford could have had plenty of high-major options but now looks like an all-conference player in the WCC. The Gaels also took a familiar route in landing Australian center Jock Perry. He could be one of the biggest players in the WCC at 260 pounds and Bennett raved about his low post skills, scoring and passing. Rounding out the class, Elijah Thomas has a reputation as a good athlete and shooter. He has good size for his position and looks like a quality long-term prospect.

4. Pepperdine Waves

Elijah Lee | 5′-10″ | PG | HCYA (TX)
Knox Hellums | 6′-5″ | SG | Concordia Lutheran (TX)
Craig LeCesne | 6′-8″ | SF | St. James (MD)

Head coach Marty Wilson and his staff really upgraded their length on the wing when they signed former Swedish U16 national team player Craig LeCesne. He provides a skilled option in the frontcourt which may results in the Waves having a legitimate mismatch face up power forward in the future. AAU teammates Knox Hellums and Elijah Lee join LeCesne in the class at Pepperdine. Both are Houston-area players who could bolster the backcourt. Hellums has great size for his position and can hit outside shots. Lee’s quickness drew praise from Wilson and was regarded as a good ball-handler and passer from the point guard slot.

5. Loyola Marymount Lions

Donald Gipson | 6′-3″ | SG | Fairfax (CA)
Josh Sykes | 6′-8″ | PF | Fresno CC (CA)

With a talented backyard available for recruiting, Loyola Marymount didn’t go far to add two newcomers in the Fall. Guard Donald Gipson starred for one of Los Angeles’ premier high school programs at Fairfax. It’s fair to say he may have experience an even higher-level of recruitment, had he not been injured and missed the summer prior to his senior season. He has good size and the ability to score from the perimeter. Reportedly on a rapid trajectory of improvement, Merced (Calif.) native Josh Sykes has what head coach Mike Dunlap described as “amazing athletic talent,” though his freshman year statistics at the junior college level (4 points, 4 rebounds) suggest he’s still working to build his basketball skills.

6. San Francisco Dons

Jordan Rathino | 6′-5″ | SG | De La Salle (CA)
Jimbo Lull | 7′-0″ | C | New Hampton (NH)

San Francisco’s program has endured plenty of roster turnover in recent memory, but head coach Rex Walters is still seeking to build the Dons program in the right direction. They signed two Californians in the early period, helping both the backcourt and the frontcourt. Jordan Rathino provides promise as a Bay Area talent from one of California’s strongest high school programs. A four-year starter with good size, Ratinho is known as both a shooter and scorer. He played his first three high school seasons under the Dons new associate head coach, Frank Alloco. On the inside, Jimbo Lull gives San Francisco size  as a legitimate 7-footer. He will hit campus with some extra seasoning after doing a post-graduate year. He is a capable post player with the ability to grab rebounds and block shots.

7. San Diego Toreros

Jose Martinez | 6′-10″ | PF | Cheshire Academy (CT)
Frank Ryder | 6′-10″ | C | Fairview (CO)

New head coach Lamont Smith clearly focused on size during his first haul to San Diego, inking a pair of 6′-10″ posts. Jose Martinez has honed his game at the prep school ranks, though he hails from Puerto Rico. Smith called him a skilled player with a face-up game. Martinez played in several national team programs in Puerto Rico, which could be invaluable experience. Another thin big man, Frank Ryder is headed to America’s Finest City. He hails from Colorado, but like Martinez was able to develop his game in a fine prep school program at IMG Academy (FL), before heading back to his hometown to finish out high school. He is a skilled big man who can operate in the paint, but must add strength to be an impact player in the WCC.

8. Pacific Tigers

Malachi Flynn | 6′-1″ | PG | Bellarmine Prep (WA)

Pacific trekked up the West Coast to pop Malachi Flynn as a lead guard. Tigers’ had coach Ron Verlin described Flynn as an “excellent” playmaker and noted he sees Flynn’s future as playing in both guard slots for the Tigers moving forward. Flynn was a breakout scorer at times in high school.

NR. Santa Clara Broncos

No known signings or commitments.

NR. Portland Pilots

No known signings or commitments.

About K.J. Hassenstab

K.J. Hassenstab is the publisher of the College Basketball Newcomers Guide book and Hoopniks.com. He founded Hoopniks.com in 2009, and has contributed to SlamOnline, Dime Magazine's HighSchoolHoop.com, and NBCSports.com, along with other publications in the past. Hassenstab has covered grassroots, high school and basketball recruiting for over a decade. Follow on Twitter, @Hoopniks.

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