Seattle Rotary AAU basketball coach Daryll Hennings has coached Gary Bell, one of four players to sign letters of intent Wednesday to play for Gonzaga, since Bell was a sixth grader.
“The Zags got a good kid,” Hennings said. “Excellent player and a better person. He’ll come to work and he’s a student as well. Low maintenance, self motivated. His parents have done a great job teaching him to be self sustaining. He’s really humble, he doesn’t take anything for granted.”
Bell, No. 68 on ESPNU’s Top 100 players, joins Kevin Pangos, Ryan Spangler and Kyle Dranginis in Gonzaga’s 2011 class that was ranked just outside ESPN.com’s Top 25 with seven other programs in the On the Cusp category. The class is actually five deep with Gonzaga Prep’s Chris Sarbaugh classified as a walk-on.
Bell, a 6-2 guard at Kentridge High (Kent, Wash.) and Pangos, a 6-2 guard at Denison Secondary School in Newmarket, Ontario, received four-star ratings (out of five) on ESPN.com. Spangler, a 6-7 forward at Bridge Creek High in Oklahoma, and Dranginis, a 6-5 guard from Skyview High in Nampa, Idaho, were three-star recruits.
Bell was recruited by numerous Pac-10 schools.
“To be completely honest, he threw everybody for a loop (committing to) Gonzaga as early as he did,” Hennings said. “He confused his parents, myself and I’m sure quite a few coaches, but it must have been right. That’s how you know it was a good feel for him.”
Hennings said Bell is comfortable playing point or shooting guard. Bell played alongside Washington-bound Tony Wroten for Seattle Rotary and the two “just kind of handled (point guard) duties collectively,” Hennings said. “If one has it, he’ll bring it up and the other guys plays the ‘2’.”
That might be similar to what happens down the road at Gonzaga with Bell and Pangos, a point guard on Canada’s U-17 team.
“Gary can do whatever is needed,” Hennings said. “He can score by getting to the rim, he can shoot out to the NBA 3, he can do it off the bounce, the catch. He’s not a selfish player. He makes everyone better around him.”
Sarbaugh was by recruited by Montana, Denver and Boise State, but opted to stay close to home.
“I felt like I’m good enough to play at Gonzaga and I want to play at the highest competition level possible,” said Sarbaugh, who will receive a tuition waiver because his late father, Tim, was a GU professor. “It doesn’t matter to me if people call me a walk-on or not, I’m going to prove myself. I have no doubt in my mind I made the right decision.”
The 6-4 Sarbaugh will be asked to carry more of the scoring load at Gonzaga Prep this season, particularly with the departure of Ryan Nicholas, who is playing at Portland. Sarbaugh averaged 9 points last season. As a sophomore he played on a G-Prep team with current Zag David Stockton.
“I feel like I’m a good passer and I have a good feel for the game,” Sarbaugh said, “but I feel like I need to work on my consistency with my shot – not my shot, but the consistency.”
Sarbaugh played for a Seattle-based AAU team that traveled to tournaments in Las Vegas and Indianapolis.
Spangler averaged 26.4 points and 18.2 rebounds last season. He’s the starting quarterback for Bridge Creek (7-2), which has a 3A state playoff game Friday. Dranginis was named Gatorade player of the year for Idaho after averaging 21 points, 6.1 assists and 6 rebounds last season. Dranginis made the game-winning basket as Skyview edged Pocatello 59-58 in the 2009 4A state championship game.