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Jeff Eisenberg

Gonzaga wrests another elite recruit away from the Pac-10

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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When Gary Bell Jr. returned home Sunday night following a weekend visit to Gonzaga, the highly-touted high school junior told his father he was pretty certain he was ready to commit.

His father told him to sleep on it, but by morning his answer hadn't changed.

Bell, one of the West Coast's top point-guard prospects in the class of 2011, called coach Mark Few on Monday afternoon and told him he wanted to accept Gonzaga's scholarship offer. The 6-foot-1 Seattle-area product chose the Zags because they had recruited him since his freshman year in high school, he has a good relationship with Few and his staff, and he relishes the opportunity to play for a winning program.

"They were one of the first schools looking at me and that was really important to me," Bell said by phone Monday night. "Coach Few is a really good coach and they go to the NCAA tournament every year. That's something I want to do."

That Few was able to land a highly-touted prospect coveted by every major West Coast school is a show of strength for a Gonzaga program that shows no signs of slippage. The Zags built their program by unearthing and developing undervalued prospects or transfers, but they out-recruited fellow elite programs for Austin Daye a few years ago and now they've done it again with Bell.

Washington and Cal were the runner-ups in Bell's recruitment. UCLA also went after Bell hard, but he said he "didn't get a real good vibe" from the Bruins, especially after the assistant coach who recruited him, Donny Daniels, left to take a similar position at Gonzaga.

Initially an under-the-radar prospect on the same AAU team as UCLA-bound senior Josh Smith and highly-touted junior Tony Wroten, Bell enjoyed the recruiting process and the attention that has come with it the past few months.

"It was actually fun, but I'm glad it's over," he said. "I'm excited about my decision."

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