Paolo Banchero, one of the top players in the 2021 class, lists Gonzaga among his six finalists.
Banchero, a 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward at Seattle’s O’Dea High, tweeted that he’s also considering Washington, Arizona, Tennessee, Kentucky and Duke. He trimmed North Carolina, Baylor and Georgetown from his top nine.
Banchero is ranked No. 2 nationally by Rivals and No. 4 by ESPN and 247sports. The five-star recruit led O’Dea to the 2019 State 3A title and a runner-up finish last month.
Gonzaga was one of the first schools to recruit him behind Washington, Banchero told 247sports. Banchero’s dad played football at UW and his mom was a basketball standout for the Huskies.
“Their player development is undeniable,” Banchero said of GU. “They develop pros, especially bigs. They play through their bigs and they are very adamant about that and they make sure to remind me of that.
“When I went on my visit (in January), there is no football there or any other big sport there, it’s all basketball. Every game is sold out. (Spokane) is close to home, not necessarily home but it’s close, only four hours driving. They have just been good every year. It’s another school that I can go to and have a shot at a national championship.”
Banchero averaged 16 points and six rebounds to earn MVP honors at the NBA Players Association Top 100 camp last June in Virginia. He was named underclassman of the year on the Nike EYBL circuit last summer.
The Zags are involved with a number of 247sports’ top 2021 prospects, including No. 2 Chet Holmgren, No. 11 Peyton Watson, No. 16 Nathan Bittle, No. 18 Arthur Kaluma and No. 29 Hunter Sallis. Those five players, as well as Banchero, have made campus visits.
No. 59 Kaden Perry, a 6-8 forward from Battle Ground (Washington) High, is the lone commitment in Gonzaga’s 2021 class.
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