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NCAA Hoops: Gonzaga’s unknown big man – Kelly Olynyk

Zags Check in time

Long scraggly hair – check. Ability to shoot with range – check. Runs the floor – check. = Steve Nash

7 footer – check. High field goal percentage – check. NBA potential – check. = Rob Sacre

For those who know, it has been a much anticipated  journey. For those who don’t know, say hello to Kelly Olynyk. Dr. Victor Frankenstein could have only hoped to have created such a creature.

When Big Rob left Gonzaga for the NBA following a storied career with the Bulldogs, college hoop fans on the Left Coast needed someone to fill the void.

Kelly Oylnyk Gonzaga

With the hair of Nash, and the game of Sacre, Kelly Olynyk is making BC proud (Photo: ESPN)

Sure Kevin Pangos took care of the Canadian content, but after five years (Sacre took a medical redshirt sophomore year in 08-09) of cheering on the BC native, something felt like it was missing as the NCAA season kicked off.

Playing 12 and 13 minutes per game on average during his freshman and sophomore seasons, Olynyk sat on the sidelines during what would have been his true junior year, as Coach Mark Few felt that it would be in Olynyk’s best interest, considering the Bulldogs depth and how it would hamper the young forward’s roll on the team.

The result?

One year in the weight room, one year battling Sacre/Elias Harris/Sam Dower in practice, one year maturing, Kelly Olynyk has stepped up to become the co-leader of the top ten ranked Bulldogs.

Sitting at 15-1 on the season, the Bulldogs once again have people talking about a lengthy run during March Madness and in order to do so, Olynyk will no doubt play a huge role.

Currently leading the team with 15.8ppg and second on the glass with 6.3rpg, Coach Few has started to see the player that he hoped Olynyk would be when he recruited him from South Kamloops.

Although he had to sit out the first three games of the season for violating team/school rules, Olynyk kicked off his season with a 13 point, 3 rebound effort against Clemson.

Many would think that a year away from on court action (from the college game), that the 21yr old forward would come out rusty, however that has been far from the case.

Hitting nearly 65% of his shots this season (good for 6th in the country), Olynyk has been a focal point for the Bulldogs offense night in and night out.

After dropping a double double (11pts/10rebs) against Lewis Clark St., Kelly hit a season high 22 points (10-14fg) in a 71-69 victory over Washington State.

As 2012 came to an end, the Bulldog forward tallied back to back 21 point games against the Baylor Bears and the 22nd ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys.

As recent as last year, there were thoughts that Olynyk would transfer from Gonzaga to another school in which his talents would have an opportunity to shine.

This season, there has been talk of NBA scouts placing the BC native in the top 60 for this June’s draft.

Right now draft boards have Kelly Olynyk’s name sitting among the high second round picks in the draft, but with an extended and successful NCAA Tournament run, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the junior forward jump into the first round.

Considering where he was last year, the old adage, “good things come to those who wait” couldn’t be more true.

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About Steve Lee

Steve is a 12 year writing vet, and writes for a number of sports sites, offering a unique and abstract look at the games we love. He still hopes the Grizz + Sonics return to the Northwest, and has been a Lakers fan since "Showtime".
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