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Gonzaga Basketball

‘It feels like a home here.’ Top-10 national recruit Isiah Harwell soaks up Kennel atmosphere during official Gonzaga visit

Recruit Isiah Harwell smiles as he takes in the atmosphere before Gonzaga played the Santa Clara Broncos on Saturday at McCarthey Athletic Center.  (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Isiah Harwell fills out an NCAA Tournament bracket every March, analyzing the various matchups and pegging potential upsets before handpicking a national champion.

Things change from one year to the next, but there’s usually one constant when it comes to Harwell’s bracket: Gonzaga as one of the last teams standing.

“They’re always going deep in it,” Harwell said. “Can’t have them falling short.”

The Zags are hoping Harwell is part of one of those runs in the near future.

The five-star guard who’s considered the nation’s seventh-best recruit in the 2025 class by 247Sports.com is seriously considering a future with Mark Few’s program after taking an official visit to Spokane this weekend.

“It’s been fun, just being around the team, being around the coaches,” he said. “They’re all cool. It feels like a home here. Great environment and it’s cool.”

It’s common for family members to tag along during an official visit, but Harwell’s entourage was larger than most at Gonzaga’s regular-season home finale against Santa Clara on Saturday evening.

It included his parents, Ron and Heather, brothers Malek, Deshun and Koby, and Paul Peterson, Harwell’s head coach at Utah prep powerhouse Wasatch Academy. Deshun and Koby got their hands on Zag apparel at some point during the trip, blending into the crowd well with navy and gray Gonzaga sweatshirts.

Gonzaga’s chances of getting Harwell into a Bulldogs uniform may have improved after the Pocatello native had a positive experience at the Kennel. Last fall, Harwell revealed the nine schools he’d be focusing on during his recruitment, indicating he’d choose between Gonzaga, North Carolina, Baylor, Alabama, Houston, Texas, UCLA, Cal and Idaho State.

Harwell’s first official visit – and the only one he has on the books right now – didn’t disappoint.

The second-ranked shooting guard in the 2025 recruiting class bobbed his head as Gonzaga’s popular pregame songs, “The Hum” and “Zombie Nation,” played over a loudspeaker.

Harwell took cell phone videos from his baseline seat at the Kennel, posting a few of those to his Instagram story, and dapped up GU guard/former Wasatch standout Nolan Hickman – Harwell’s player host this weekend – as the Bulldogs returned to the locker room before the game.

“When I went to Wasatch, I heard about him,” Harwell said of Hickman. “I came down, talked to him and I just built a relationship with him.”

After watching Hickman drill five 3-pointers and score 20 points against Santa Clara, Harwell gave the GU guard a shoutout on social media.

“He was on one,” Harwell posted on his Instagram story.

Late in the second half, Gonzaga’s student section serenaded him with “We want Harwell, we want Harwell” chants.

Gonzaga was one of the first programs to identify Harwell on the recruiting trail a few years ago, but the Bulldogs didn’t offer the guard a scholarship immediately. That made Harwell appreciate the moment more when GU’s offer finally came on April 17.

“They didn’t offer me right away,” he said. “They wanted to see how I played and they were one of the first to recruit me. … It was amazing. It’s Gonzaga, they’ve got so much history behind them. It was crazy to get the offer, I was really blessed to do that.”

Harwell watched Gonzaga run up its point total in a 94-81 win over Santa Clara on Saturday. Few’s up-tempo, guard-oriented system is attractive to Harwell, who won a gold medal last summer with Team USA at the FIBA Americas Championship in Mexico.

“They play with pace, they play in transition well, they play through their guards and bigs,” Harwell said. “When they have a mismatch, they go for it. I feel like I bring a lot to the table because I’m a big guard. I feel like that creates a lot of mismatches, so I feel like it’s a great system.”

Harwell recently sustained an injury playing for Wasatch and said he “won’t be back (on the floor) for a little bit.” That forced the Idaho native to reschedule his Gonzaga visit, which was originally supposed to coincide with a Feb. 3 game against Saint Mary’s.

Finding another date on the calendar was still a priority for Harwell, who’s considered a top-10 national recruit by 247Sports.com, On3.com and Rivals.com.

“For sure,” he said. “I took an unofficial here and I wanted to come back and take an official. This is a cool environment right here.”

Harwell said he doesn’t have a timeframe for when he’d like to make a commitment.

“I’ll probably just commit when it feels right,” he said.

Gonzaga doesn’t have a commitment in either of the next two recruiting classes, but the 2025 class may be more of a priority for the Bulldogs, who are eligible to return every player on the current roster with the exception of fifth-year senior Anton Watson.

Along with Harwell, the Zags have extended offers to two other recruits in the class of 2025: four-star forward Nik Khamenia and five-star combo guard Jalen Haralson.