If you can play, coaches will find you. Just take a look at the case of Vashon High junior John Gage. A 6-foot-10 power forward, Gage recently led Vashon to a Class 1A state title while racking up a combined 55 points and 29 rebounds in the semifinal and final games.
Andy Sears, Gage's coach at Vashon, took some time to explain what makes his junior such a rising prospect.
"He's 6-10 with his shoes off, so he's a legit 6-10," said Sears. "He's an incredible shooter. He's one of those gifted natural shooter with great mechanics. When he misses, he doesn't miss by much." "He's got great skill level for a 6-10 guy. He can pass, shoot and dribble. He's also very mobile for a guy that size."
Checking in at around 210 pounds, Gage is primarily a guy who would prefer to face up defenders. He's becoming more comfortable around the rim as he adds strength, but it's his ability to face up that makes him a great match for the way the college game is headed on the offensive end.
"You see the way the game is going with lots of people playing with four guys on the perimeter and spacing the floor," said Sears. "He's one of those guys that you can do that with. He can play pick and pop and he can guard pick and pop."
Having only turned 16 just before the start of the season, Gage is actually very young for his class and is the youngest junior in his school. Not surprisingly, his coach thinks that adding strength through physical maturity will greatly benefit Gage's game.
"He's just got to get physically stronger," said Sears of where Gage needs the most work. "Then he'll be that guy that can score at the basket and bring you away. Right now, he likes to face you."
Despite being tucked away at a small high school, college coaches have started to take plenty of notice.
"Washington has been here a bunch and Stanford has been here a bunch," said Sears. "Eastern Washington has been up, both Portland schools have been up. San Diego has been up and Seattle U has been up. Oregon State has called and California has been up twice."
Having recently drawn an offer from the Huskies, Sears indicated that Stanford could be heading in that direction. The Cardinal have certainly worked to build an early relationship.
"Rodney Tention has been kind of heading it up," Sears told the Bootleg. "He took an unofficial visit there last summer where he got to meet a ton of the staff. Coach Dawkins has been up for open gym. He's developed a real good relationship with them."
While Gage is in no real rush to make a college decision, Sears says that his player could pop at any time if he feels things have clicked properly with a school. In the meantime, he'll hit the grassroots circuit with Jim Marsh's always loaded Seattle Friends of Hoop outfit and will eventually pick a program based on a pretty standard set of criteria.
"Academics are really important to him and moving forward with that," said Sears. "Then there's the relationships and the basketball side of things with style of play and how he fits in."