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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Four-star power forward Braden Huff becomes Gonzaga’s first commit in class of 2022

UPDATED: Mon., Sept. 27, 2021

Gonzaga University students cheer for the Zags in the first half McCarthey Athletic Center against Baylor for the National Championship, Monday, April 5, 2021.  (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga University students cheer for the Zags in the first half McCarthey Athletic Center against Baylor for the National Championship, Monday, April 5, 2021. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Gonzaga’s 2022 recruiting class is officially up and running.

The Bulldogs received their first commitment in the class of 2022 on Monday when Braden Huff, a four-star prospect from Illinois, announced his plans to join Mark Few and a GU team that’s coming off its second national championship appearance in four years.

Huff is rated four stars by 247Sports.com and the website considers the 6-foot-9, 205-pound forward the second overall prospect in the state of Illinois and the nation’s No. 12 power forward. Huff’s yet to receive a composite rating from 247Sports.com.

The Glen Ellyn, Illinois, native was recruited mostly by Big Ten schools and linked heavily to Wisconsin before committing to Gonzaga on Monday. One 247Sports.com recruiting analyst, Evan Flood, went as far to give the Badgers a crystal ball when it came to Huff’s recruitment, so it may have come as a surprise when the power forward announced his decision on Monday.

“First of all, thank you so much to all of the programs, college coaches and staff that have invested time and energy into recruiting me and building relationships,” Huff wrote in a commitment post shared on his social media accounts. “This has been a dream come true and I value and respect each of you. Next, I want to thank my family for supporting and encouraging me to follow my dreams.

“… With that being said I will be committing to Gonzaga University, Coach Few, his staff and my future teammates. Thank you for this opportunity, I can’t wait to get to work. Go Zags!!”

Huff had 11 total offers according to 247Sports.com, including six from the Big Ten Conference: Wisconsin, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Iowa and Illinois. He was also offered by Creighton, Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt, DePaul and Illinois State.

Of those 11, the Bulldogs were the last to offer, but GU gained ground when it came to the Huff sweepstakes after hosting the four-star prospect on an official visit in Spokane last weekend.

Huff told Joe Tipton of On3 he thought he’d be a good fit for Few’s system and compared his playing style to that of Kelly Olynyk and Domantas Sabonis, former Gonzaga players who were able to sharpen their skills in Spokane before moving on to successful careers in the NBA.

“I picked Gonzaga because I felt like it was the best fit for me in terms of play style and could really develop me as a player during my time there,” Huff said according to Tipton. “Also on top of that I felt like the staff made it really apparent they wanted me at their school so that definitely added to it, but honestly just looking at guys like (Kelly) Olynyk and (Domantas) Sabonis who are similar to me really made the school intriguing, and although I really liked and appreciated all the other schools recruiting me I felt like this was the place I wanted to be at just because of the history and development that goes on through this program.”

Huff may fill a hole for a Gonzaga team that could lose national player of the year candidate Drew Timme as well as five-star freshman Chet Holmgren, a projected lottery pick in the 2022 NBA draft.

According to the Illinois Hoops Prospects website, Huff averaged better than 15 points per game each of his last two seasons at Glenbard West High, posting 15.7 per game, 7.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.7 blocks as a sophomore before registering 17.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.5 blocks as a junior. The website also indicates Huff shot 46% from the 3-point line in 2020-21.

The Bulldogs are in the mix for a handful of other high-profile recruits including five-star prospects Jaden Bradley and Anthony Black, along with four-star players Collin Chandler and AJ Casey.

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