10 Players That Built the Foundation of Gonzaga Bulldogs Basketball
10 Players That Built the Foundation of Gonzaga Bulldogs Basketball
With their rise to No. 1 in the most recent men's college basketball Top 25, the Gonzaga Bulldogs are the talk of the game as we get closer to another March Madness. Mark Few's squad is playing some of the best basketball of any team in the country, combining a ferocious defense with a balanced scoring attack led by National Player of the Year candidate Kelly Olynyk.
The foundation of Gonzaga basketball was hardly built overnight, however. It's been a process several decades in the making, a process kickstarted by one of the best point guards in basketball history and carried forth by several All-Americans, NBA draft pick, and coaches like Mark Few and Dan Monson that each made an impressions on one of the country's more unlikely powerhouses in their own way.
While their professional careers may have had mixed results, the impact they each had on the college game, and on Gonzaga in particular is without doubt. From Jeremy Pargo to Casey Calvary, each of these guys did their part to built a small Jesuit school in the Upper Northwest into one of college basketball's premier destinations. Let's take a look at the 10 guys that have built the foundation of Gonzaga Bulldogs basketball. Enjoy!
Matt Bouldin (2006-2010)
Arguably one of the best players in Colorado high school basketball history, Matt Bouldin started for four seasons at Gonzaga between 2006-2010, earning West Coast Conference All-Freshman honors and then All-Conference honors for his remaining three seasons in Spokane. Bouldin finished his career with the Zags averaging 12.7 points, 3.3 assists and four points per game.
Bouldin went undrafted in the 2010 NBA Draft, but has enjoyed a productive professional career overseas, most recently playing for Hapoel Tel Aviv of the Israel Super League.
Casey Calvary (1997-2001)
Casey Calvary was the embodiment of athleticism combined with grit and determination. As someone whose basketball career ended when Calvary's began, I truly enjoyed watching his blue-collar approach to the game which always ended in positive results. Calvary was All-WCC as a junior and senior at Gonzaga, finishing his career in the all-time top 10 in both scoring and rebounding at the time his career wound down.
Although Calvary went undrafted in the 2001 NBA Draft he continued to play professionally for several teams in various countries, most recently for CB Villa de Los Barrios in the Spanish League before retiring in 2008. After some research, we determined that Calvary is currently the Business Development Director for Baker Construction in Spokane, Washington.
Jeremy Pargo (2005-2009)
Over four seasons in Spokane, Jeremy Pargo became one of the more reliable and most well-rounded point guards in mid-major basketball. Named the WCC Player of the Year in the 2008-2009 season, Pargo, like many of his teammates before, went undrafted in the 2009 NBA Draft, but has regardless seen time with several NBA teams since including the Memphis Grizzlies, Cleveland Cavaliers, and most recently, the Philadelphia 76ers.
Pargo is averaging 7.3 points, 2.5 assists, and 1.3 steals per game this season in Philly, playing around 18 minutes per game.
Blake Stepp (2000-2004)
Blake Stepp helped to re-build the tradition of great Gonzaga point guards that started in the early 1980s, playing four solid seasons with the Bulldogs from 2000-2004. Stepp averaged 13 points, 5 assists, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game over his four seasons, earning WCC Player of the Year honors in both 2003 and 2004.
Stepp was selected with the 59th pick of the 2004 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves, but never played an NBA game. He played two seasons overseas, in Serbia and Spain before retiring in 2006.
Stepp has re-fashioned himself as a competitive poker player, playing in several World Series of Poker events since 2008.
Dan Dickau (2000-2002)
While he only played two full seasons with the Bulldogs, Dan Dickau's impact on Gonzaga basketball was substantial. Named a first-team All-American following his 2001-2002 season in which he averaged 21.0 points per game, 4.7 assists per game and 3 rebounds per game. Drafted with the 28th pick of the 2002 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings, Dickau played for seven NBA teams, retiring in 2010 after a brief stint with the Fort Wayne Mad Antz of the NBA D-League.
Dickau is currently a player development consultant for the Portland Trailblazers and does color commentary on Gonzaga basketball radio broadcasts.
Austin Daye (2007-2009)
One of the more freakishly athletic players in Gonzaga history, Austin Daye played only two seasons for the Bulldogs, averaging 11.6 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, while shooting a deadly 42.1% from three-point land-- making him an intriguing NBA prospect at the time.
Daye was selected by the Detroit Pistons with the 15th pick of the 2009 NBA Draft and is currently averaging 5.3 points and 2.4 assists per game for the Memphis Grizzlies in an average of 13.4 minutes per game. Many wonder what could have been had Daye stayed for four years and not jumped too early, but we'll never know.
Kelly Olynyk (Current)
I don't need to go into too much detail about Kelly Olynyk's impact on Gonzaga basketball, beyond saying he is possibly the second-best player in the history of the program. Will he win the 2013 National Player of the Year award? Very possibly -- and if so, his legend, which is already substantial as a Gonzaga icon, will continue to grow.
Ronny Turiaf (2001-2005)
One of the more colorful and entertaining players in Gonzaga Bulldogs history, Ronny Turiaf was the spiritual leader of the early 2000s Gonzaga teams that established the program's reputation as an up-and-comer. During his four seasons in Spokane, Turiaf averaged 13.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, shooting an astonishing 51% from the field during that time.
Turiaf was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 37th pick of the 2005 NBA Draft, and has enjoyed a productive professional career playing for six teams. Turiaf currently is a role player for the Los Angeles Clippers, playing 11.2 minutes per game, averaging 2 points and 2.5 boards per game.
Adam Morrison (2003-2006)
Oh, Adam Morrison. The subject of just about every college basketball story written during 2006, the floppy-haired throwback looked like the next big thing after scoring 28.1 points per game and leading the country in scoring, taking home National Player of the Year honors in the process.
Taken with the 3rd overall pick of the 2006 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Bobcats, Morrison's pro career hasn't ever lived up to its promise. After substantial playing time with Charlotte in 2006, in a season where he averaged only 11.8 points per game, injury issues slowed his career. After a few semi-productive seasons overseas, Morrison made an attempt at a comeback with the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets, both attempts that fell flat.
Regardless, Gonzaga basketball is Gonzaga basketball due largely to the efforts and passion of Adam Morrison while in Spokane that brought the program to national attention.
John Stockton (1980-1984)
What's there to say really? John Stockton is Gonzaga basketball, beyond being one of the best point guards ever to hit the hardwood, at either the college or NBA level.