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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Tricky Trio ranked No. 11 nationally, tops among Gonzaga recruiting classes

UPDATED: Wed., May 6, 2020

Gonzaga commits, from left, Jalen Suggs, Julian Strawther and Dominick Harris sit with 2021 recruit Chet Holmgren Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019 at Kraziness in the Kennel at Gonzaga University. (Jesse Tinsley / Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga commits, from left, Jalen Suggs, Julian Strawther and Dominick Harris sit with 2021 recruit Chet Holmgren Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019 at Kraziness in the Kennel at Gonzaga University. (Jesse Tinsley / Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)

The Tricky Trio hasn’t played a game yet at Gonzaga, and they’re already breaking records.

Gonzaga’s incoming class of Jalen Suggs, Julian Strawther and Dominick Harris – self-dubbed the Tricky Trio – is No. 11 in 247sports’ composite final rankings for 2020. That edges out last year’s six-player class that checked in at No. 13 as the highest in school history.

Suggs, No. 8 in the composite rankings, is the highest-rated recruit in program history. He’s followed by Zach Collins (30) and Austin Daye (34). Strawther, at No. 60, and Harris, at No. 64, are ninth and 10th, respectively, in school history.

The Zags’ top three classes have come in the last five years. That corresponds to Gonzaga’s five straight trips to at least the Sweet 16 and four consecutive 30-win seasons. The 2016 class of Collins, Rui Hachimura, Killian Tillie, Zach Norvell Jr. and Jacob Larsen was ranked No. 20.

“It’s just a function of clearly being one of the top handful of programs in the country, the success of the program year after year and competing for championships every year,” 247sports national recruiting analyst Josh Gershon said.

Gonzaga’s only other recruiting classes inside the top 30 were 2004 (28), 2007 (26) and 2011 (28). The ’04 class included Josh Heytvelt, David Pendergraft, J.P. Batista and Nathan Doudney. The ’07 class featured Daye, Steven Gray, Robert Sacre and Ira Brown. The 2011 class had Ryan Spangler, Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell Jr., Kyle Dranginis and Guy Landry Edi.

The composite rankings are a combination of Rivals, ESPN and 247sports, Gershon said. Every team in the top 10 has at least four commitments. The top three of Kentucky, North Carolina and Duke each have six.

“You get rewarded for quality, but also quantity,” Gershon said of the points system.

The incoming trio joins sophomores Drew Timme (No. 43 in 2019), Anton Watson (No. 48) and Pavel Zakharov (No. 60), junior Filip Petrusev (No. 76), redshirt freshman Oumar Ballo (No. 78).

If everybody returns and all three freshmen enroll, next season’s team would have eight of the top 14 in program history in 247sports rankings: No. 1 Suggs, No. 4 Timme, No. 5 Watson, No. 8 Zakharov, No. 9 Strawther, No. 10 Harris, No. 13 Petrusev and No. 14 Ballo.

“The player development there is real, the culture is impeccable,” Gershon said. “Gonzaga has all the makings of an elite program to go with the consistency and longevity.”

Another factor in Gonzaga’s rise in national recruiting rankings is the influence of talented international players. Gershon and Evan Daniels, 247sports’ director of recruiting, began attending overseas tournaments in 2016 to get a better gauge on international players.

“We were at those same tournaments that (Zags assistant coach) Tommy Lloyd has been scouting,” Gershon said. “We were able to evaluate those players, see them against American counterparts, so we’ve added them to the rankings and it’s given them a boost.”

Ex-Zag Przemek Karnowski, a 7-foot-1 center from Poland who went on to become the NCAA all-time leader in wins, had an NA (not available) next to his 2012 recruiting rating in 247sports’ data base.

Domantas Sabonis, who played two seasons at GU before becoming a lottery pick, was No. 200 in 2014. Hachimura was No. 148 and Tillie No. 123 in 2016.

Suggs, a 6-4 guard from Minneapolis, is No. 5 in ESPN’s ratings and No. 9 according to Rivals.

“He’s a big-time combo guard,” Gershon said. “His combination of scoring ability and playmaking ability with his size, athleticism and toughness is really impressive. The 2020 class is really good compared to the last two. In the last few classes he probably would have been (ranked) a bit higher.”

Strawther “is a really good playmaker,” Gershon said. “He could play the ‘3’ or maybe some small-ball ‘4.’ Dominick is a classic new-age combo guard that can play the ‘1’ or ‘2.’ Outstanding athlete, respectable shooter, he’s best off the bounce. This is a really versatile class.”

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