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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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More on Vilarino

Waiting for a call from the latest Zag commitment, G.J. Vilarino, but he has a good excuse. Classes at McKinney High go from 9:15 to 4:20, then he follows a post-classes regimen where he hits the weight room.

Until then, read on for more on Vilarino from his father, Gerardo "Gerry" Vilarino, and his prep coach Wes Watson. By the way, G.J. is short for Gerardo Jr.

I'll update the article below after I hear from G.J., who is expected to call at about 7:30.


By Jim Meehan


Staff writer


Kentucky’s loss was Gonzaga’s gain.


G.J. Vilarino, who committed to Kentucky two years ago but re-opened his recruitment after the Wildcats made a men’s basketball coaching change, has verbally committed to Gonzaga, said Vilarino’s father, Gerry.


Vilarino, a standout 6-foot-1, 170-pound guard at McKinney (Texas) High, visited Spokane over the weekend.


“He was obviously tired (when he returned home Sunday night), but very excited about the trip,” Gerry said. “We sat down and I think we knew before he went that it was a place he wanted to be as long as he felt comfortable and felt he could contribute and be a valuable member of an established program.”


G.J. Vilarino was born in Spokane in 1991, but only lived in the region for about a year before the family relocated to Seattle and eventually to McKinney, which is roughly 20 minutes north of Dallas. Gerry Vilarino was stationed at Fairchild Air Force base from 1981-85, then earned a degree in economics from Eastern Washington University.


Vilarino has two uncles and several cousins that still live in the area. His father said G.J. visited relatives in Spokane in 1998.

“It’s an amazing story,” Gerry said. “My wife is a crazy Gonzaga fan and always has been growing up in that area. I always used to kid her: ‘How crazy would it be if G.J. ended up playing for Gonzaga?’ ”

Vilarino is the sixth commitment of the Bulldogs’ large 2009 class, joining Manny Arop, Sam Dower, Kelly Olynyk, Elias Harris and Bol Kong. Harris, a 6-7 forward from Speyer, Germany, still has to satisfy academic requirements. Kong, a native of Sudan who has lived two-thirds of his life in Canada, is attempting to resolve Visa issues.

Should all six end up at Gonzaga and Austin Daye, a sophomore who has declared for the NBA draft but didn’t sign with an agent, opts to return, the Zags would be one over the scholarship limit with their existing roster.

Vilarino committed as a sophomore to then-Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie, who was replaced by John Calipari about a month ago. Vilarino visited with Calipari before deciding to re-open his recruitment.

“He handled it as well as a kid could ever handle it. When it was apparent it wasn’t going to happen at Kentucky, I asked him if he was OK and he said, ‘I’m fine,’ ” said Wes Watson, Vilarino’s coach at McKinney High. “He never gets too high or too low over that stuff and he always felt like he’d find somewhere that was a good fit.

“I don’t think he could have found a better situation. He has some family up there and they play a style of basketball that he likes.”

Before making his commitment, Vilarino narrowed his choices to GU, Virginia Commonwealth, Cincinnati and possibly Oregon, Gerry said.

Vilarino averaged nearly 20 points and just over 4 assists as a senior on a 23-11 team that lost in the second round of the playoffs, Watson said. Vilarino was a four-year starter and McKinney broke an eight-year playoff drought in Vilarino’s freshman season.

“He’s the most talented kid I’ve seen with the ball in his hands,” Watson said. “He has a rare combination of skill and athleticism. You tend to get kids that have one or the other. He’s extremely fast with the ball in his hands. He can finish, he can elevate and shoot the mid-range and he’s a pretty good 3-point shooter.”


Jim Meehan
Jim Meehan joined The Spokesman-Review in 1990. Jim is currently a reporter for the Sports Desk and covers Gonzaga University basketball, Spokane Empire football, college volleyball and golf.

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