Gonzaga Targets Ryan Appleby

It won't be long until this year's juniors will be next year's seniors and deciding where they will be playing college basketball. One of the hottest prospects in the West is a prime target of Gonzaga, to help complete a backcourt that will continue to rival the best in the country. Meet Ryan Appleby. (photo courtesy of Prepwesthoops)

"Stockton dishes to McPhee for the easy layup!"

"It's Santangelo to Frahm for the two-handed stuff!"

"Dickau feeds the ball down low to Calvary who spins for the easy two!"

"Stepp to Gourde and the pretty finger roll!"

"Appleby leads the fast break, three on two, fakes a pass to Reisman, pulls up for three, hits it!"

The Gonzaga coaching staff is hoping someday to hear plenty of play-by-play action with the latter combination. Ryan Appleby, a premier point guard from Stanwood High School, is at the top of GU's wish list for the class of 2003. By all accounts, Ryan would continue the Zags' legacy of outstanding guards and assure continuity of what has been one of the West's finest backcourts year in and year out to complement a stellar frontcourt.

Zags Hoops caught up with Ryan Appleby the day after Christmas. His Stanwood Spartans are undefeated and the road to the state playoffs was looking good. Ryan is having a great year with some double-doubles already in the bag and averaging 48% from three-point land and 55% from the field.

Ryan credits his mother and father for being most influential in his life. His father played basketball at the college level before traveling with the talented Christian team Athletes in Action to play exhibition games around the country. His mother was a fine athlete in her own right, playing tennis in high school. And Ryan's sister was a star volleyball player who earned a college scholarship, so it should be no surprise that the 6'2" guard is excelling towards the highest level.

Appleby is a well-grounded young man who is not caught up in all of the attention and hooplah he is receiving. He believes the Lord has given him the ability and talent to be the best basketball player, student and person he can be, and without God's gift to him he wouldn't be where he's at today.

Born in Edmonds, WA, with a few years spent in-between in Everett, Ryan's family settled down in Stanwood, just outside Seattle. Ryan recalls the hoop his father put on his door when he was all of 4 years old. He also remembers going to the gym with his dad for Athletes in Action practices. A gym rat was born. A few years later Appleby would be involved in Boys Club organized basketball, followed by AAU competition. He grew up watching and admiring the likes of Magic Johnson, but more recently he has discovered the legendary scorer from LSU, Pistol Pete Maravich, and Ryan truly appreciates the former superstar.

Now he's a member of Jason Baskett's elite AAU summer league team, the Emerald City Pioneers. As the team's floor general, Ryan led the Pioneers to a Final Four finish at the prestigeous Memorial Day Tournament in Indianapolis, defeating elite teams from across the country. Recruiting scouts took notice, as did coaches from programs far and wide.

To name just a few, Gonzaga is recruiting Ryan hard along with UCLA, Washington, Oregon State, Missouri, Iowa and many more, including plenty of East Coast schools. When asked if location would be a factor in his decision, Ryan says no. The coaches, players, academics and ethics of a school are what's important to Appleby, plus the opportunity to step in as a freshman and contribute in a significant and meaningful manner.

His goals are to win a state 4A championship at Stanwood, then to be a part of a college program that has a good chance of advancing far into March Madness, ie, Final Four.

Ryan's game is one of finding the open teammate for the easiest possible shot combined with some sharp-shooting of his own, from three-pointers to driving layups. Double digit assists often accompany double digit scoring. He sees the court well and loves an uptempo game. His favorite way to score is a pull-up jumper off a fast break from beyond the arc. The one thing he feels he needs to work on most is his strength and weight.

As for Gonzaga University, Ryan knows current redshirt freshmen Josh Reisman and Tyler Amaya, and is familiar with future Zag Sean Mallon. GU's style of basketball is to his liking and he's actually been to the campus for a team camp last summer where he got some one-on-one with Dan Dickau and met several members of the team. Mark Few recently sat in the stands and watched Ryan's Stanwood team knock off ranked Snohomish, and the GU coaching staff has let Ryan's high school coach know that they'd like to have Ryan and his family over to experience a game in The Kennel this season.

Interest is high at Gonzaga.

Ryan's father handles the multitudes of mail he receives daily so Ryan can concentrate on studies and Stanwood basketball. He carries a 3.3 GPA. His plans are to put in the best season of his life this year and follow it with another solid summer of AAU action, then narrow the schools down to about five and take some visits next summer and fall. As of now Ryan has no leader and is wide open.

Zags Hoops would like to thank Ryan for taking time to be interviewed and to wish him and his fellow Spartans all the best on their road to the state tournament.

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