WKU commit Gordon helps build 2011 men’s basketball class

Cole Claybourn

St. Patrick High School (N.J.) point guard and 2011 WKU recruit Derrick Gordon may not be a coach, but that didn’t prevent him from acting like one this summer.

Gordon, who hasn’t tried to hide his excitement for WKU since committing during his sophomore year of high school, hit a recruiting trail of his own while competing on the Amateur Athletic Union circuit.

He’s doing it in an effort to convince other members of the class of the 2011 who may not have been interested in WKU before to take a serious look at the program.

That’s certainly been the case with two recruits in particular: St. John Bosco High School (Calif.) point guard Cezar Guerrero and George Rogers Clark (Ky.) power forward Vinny Zollo.

“I met them both at the Bob Gibbons tournament back in May, and I got a chance to talk to them (about WKU) after I played their teams,” Gordon said. “I saw how good they were and thought we could do special things if were able to team up.

“WKU wasn’t even on their radars, but now after talking to them, there’s a good chance that when the signing period comes, it will be me, Vinny Zollo, and Cezar Guerrero as Hilltoppers.”

Gordon said the coaches asked him if he knew of any point guards who might still be available from the 2011 class, and Gordon said he gave them Guerrero’s name without any hesitation.

“They asked at the right moment because that’s when I had just played against him at that tournament,” Gordon said. “He’s a real good player, so I told the (WKU) coaches about him, and he’s been a target ever since.”

Head Coach Ken McDonald paid Guerrero a visit in California last Thursday — the first day of the NCAA’s live recruiting period. Guerrero will make an official visit to WKU this weekend, and Zollo plans to attend WKU’s Hilltopper Hysteria.

Gordon said Zollo, a former University of Kentucky commit, has both great size — at 6 feet 8 inches and 215 pounds — and athleticism. He also thought Zollo could have some interest in WKU since it was close to Winchester.

After listening to Gordon talk about how they’d both be able to play right away rather than having to sit behind upperclassmen first, Zollo said he gained a deep admiration for Gordon and WKU.

“There’s a slew of schools looking at Derrick, but for him to stay committed with the understanding that he’ll be able to step in and be a program guy — that’s kind of the same thing I was looking for,” Zollo said. “It appealed to me that he stayed committed through all that, so it really boosted Western’s image in my mind.”

In Guerrero, Gordon said he saw an unselfish point guard — one that likes to make his teammates look good rather than himself. Gordon said he could easily see the two gelling on the court and having great success together.

“We’d be unguardable,” he said. “He’s the type of guy who likes to get the ball on the fast break, and so do I. His ball handling is really good, and he has a quick first step. With us two on the court and the other three players out there with us, it’s just going to be something special.”

Guerrero reciprocated the feelings, noting that the two would make a dynamic guard duo.

“If we commit together and both come to Western Kentucky, I think it would be one of the best backcourts in the country,” Guerrero said.

Neither Guerrero nor Zollo are in a hurry to make a decision yet, so Gordon said he’s going to seize the time in-between by continuing to sell WKU as much as possible.

“Until they make their decision, I’m going to keep calling them,” he said. “I’m going to continue to try to bring in other players as well.”