NCAA Northern Neighbors
When Gonzaga ventured up to Vancouver last week, scores of fans had high hopes of seeing the Bulldogs march out a starting lineup with up to four Canadians.
At one point throughout the course of the past three years, there was even the thought of a quintet of Canadians beening on the floor at one time for the Zags, had everything gone according to plan.
However, that plan has slowly fallen apart, as for various reasons, the once “Utopian” for Canadian ballers does not seem to be as rosey.
While there has been some grumbling in recent years, the Bulldogs Canadian contingent is currently bookended by a senior big man with NBA aspirations and a freshman point guard who may not stay on campus all four years before heading on to a “play for pay” career.
TOP 5 CANADIAN BULLDOGS:
1) Robert Sacre
Hailing from North Vancouver, Sacre has been a big presence on the Gonzaga roster, one way or another. As a true seven footer, Sacre has increased his role on the Bulldogs squad each year since his freshman season, where although playing in 29 game, he averaged only nine minutes of court time.
Following a setback true sophomore season in which he was injured five games in, Sacre has put himself on the NBA draft radar over the course of the past two years averaging 10pts and 6rebs in 29mins of action.
Currently posting 17pts, 10rebs and 2blks per game, Sacre is looking to cap off an impressive collegiate career with an extended run in the Madness of March.
2) Kevin Pangos
Three games into his college career and already Pangos is in discussion for the best Canadian product that the Zags have recruited.
While some have stereotyped that he is the new age John Stockton (white guy, point guard, Gonzaga….sorry David), others see a resemblance of Steve Nash (white guy, point guard, shooter, Canadian).
Coming off the bench in his first game for the Bulldogs, Pangos posted a nice stat line for a freshman with 11pts and 4rebs in 27 minutes. Que up the coming out party, as game two officially put the rookie on the map as he dropped a record tying effort hitting 9 bombs from downtown (Dan Dickau was in the books for doing it twice during his time with the Bulldogs) and adding a perfect 6-6 from the line to finish with 33 points.
Since then, Pangos has remained in the starting lineup, contributing on a nightly basis as the team currently remains undefeated.
3) Kelly Olynyk
While Sacre is a true seven footer who provides a presence in the paint, Olynyk fits more into the mold of a Keith Van Horn, than a Dirk Nowitzki.
As a freshman, Olynyk received about 12 minutes of game time, playing behind Elias Harris and Sacre. While his playing time did not increase as hoped, Olynyk did improve his stats, almost doubling his freshman line, to 6pts and 4rebs on the season.
Olynyk had hoped to see a significant bump in playing time during his junior year, however with Sacre, Harris and Sam Dower receiving bulk minutes such was not the case in the first game of the season and after conversation with family and the coaching staff, the result has been a redshirt junior season for the Kamloops native.
4) Mangisto Arop
After sitting behind Matt Bouldin and Steven Gray during his first three years (including a redshirt freshman year) Arop decided to transfer to Indiana State this season.
Averaging 14 minutes, 4pts and 4rebs during his two years of court time, Arop (like Olynyk may) felt the need to showcase his abilities elsewhere after it appeared that he would never get the desired minutes in Spokane.
Unfortunately for Arop, he has to sit out this season, as per NCAA transfer rules, a season in which he may have been rewarded with more playing time, as the duo of Mike Hart and Mathis Monninghoff, while stead, isn’t exactly burning up the stat sheet.
5) a. Pierre Marie Altidor-Cespedes + b. Bol Kong
Physically, Altidor-Cespedes would hold down the final spot on this list, but the myth that was Bol Kong needs a spot when it comes to talking Canadians at Gonzaga.
PMAC spent three years on the Bulldogs roster, splitting time with Derek Raivio and Jeremy Pargo, providing the team with a solid backup guard who also had the ability to step up in the starting point guard role when needed.
Starting 31 games as a sophomore and 49 games in three years, PMAC looked to find a school that would benefit from his talents, rather than play a backup role in his final season.
Bol Kong’s myth lasted longer than his one season in a Bulldogs jersey.
Kong’s well documented citizenship issues and rumored GPA requirements were a constant on hoops websites and watercooler talk on both sides of the border. Once cleared, BK had a typical rollercoaster freshman season, occasionally providing highlights on the offensive end, while the next moment struggling on a defensive assignment.
Entering what would be his Junior year, Kong for reasons still only known to himself and the coaching staff, decided not to return to Spokane, despite the lengthy journey it took to get there.