Kentridge junior Gary Bell commits to Gonzaga
Kentridge basketball star Gary Bell, a junior guard, has committed to Gonzaga.
Seattle Times staff reporter
With few exceptions, the Puget Sound area has been a hard place for Gonzaga basketball recruiters to crack. But the Zags scored a significant breakthrough Monday with a commitment from Kentridge High guard Gary Bell Jr. for the 2011 freshman class.
"They really didn't have to pitch it; we felt it," said his father, Gary Sr., after the family took an unofficial weekend visit to the GU campus in Spokane.
As a junior, the 6-foot-1 Bell averaged 22.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists for the Chargers and was named to The Seattle Times all-state first team. He had a 55-point game in a December loss against Auburn Riverside.
Bell shot 46.2 percent from the field, including 41.8 percent on threes, and hit 75.3 percent on free throws.
He was recruited heavily within the Pac-10, earning scholarship offers from Arizona State, California, USC, UCLA, Washington and Washington State. He also drew interest from Florida and Illinois as Rivals.com's No. 74 player nationally in the 2011 class and Scout.com's No. 17 shooting guard.
Kentridge had been to Gonzaga's camps, and the Zags became one of Bell's early favorites. The family trip there cinched it.
"Everything fit right in place for him," said the senior Bell. "It was a family atmosphere, but the program's big enough to where he could play and get exposure.
"The academic part was just a no-brainer — 15, 16 kids to a class, it just fit perfectly for him."
Bell Sr. said his son wanted to commit on the visit, but he encouraged him to sleep on it. The younger Bell didn't waver Monday, so he called Zags coach Mark Few in the afternoon.
Bell Sr. said the family got a good feeling about what he called Gonzaga's low-key approach.
"Mark Few didn't beat it on us," he said. "He let the actions of the people we saw, the coaches and staff, speak for themselves. All those guys were not really pushing and pressuring."
As much as Bell figures to help the Gonzaga program with his game, his commitment is something of a symbolic gain as well. Despite having been to 12 straight NCAA tournaments, the Zags have found recruiting difficult in the Puget Sound area.
Their current roster includes guard Steven Gray, a Bainbridge product who transferred in from outlying Chimacum. Earlier this decade, they had Seattle's Erroll Knight, but Knight was a transfer from UW.
Probably Gonzaga's most accomplished player in recent years from the area was Casey Calvary of Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or email@example.com
Seattle Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom describes some of the factors that may have led to the collapse of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in Mount Vernon on Thursday, May 23.