Gonzaga Basketball

Gonzaga Basketball: The Biggest NBA Success Stories in Bulldogs History

Hayden DeitrickFeatured ColumnistJune 20, 2014

Gonzaga Basketball: The Biggest NBA Success Stories in Bulldogs History

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Gonzaga basketball has turned out some truly great college basketball players.

    The Bulldogs have always specialized in taking middle-of-the-road recruits and developing them over four years to be contributors to the program.

    This strategy works well for these players as collegiate athletes, but these players hardly ever transfer that success to an NBA career.

    There are, however, some standouts in terms of career longevity and potential moving forward, and of course, Gonzaga’s greatest star is also one of the NBA’s greatest point guards.

John Stockton

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    Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

    Easily the greatest NBA talent to come out of Gonzaga is legendary point guard John Stockton.

    Stockton, a Spokane native, averaged 12.9 PPG over his career, including a whopping 20.9 PPG as a senior, and 5.2 APG.

    He was drafted 16th overall by the Utah Jazz, the team that he would spend his entire 19-season career playing for. This is a record for a player playing the most seasons with just one team.

    This is hardly the only record Stockton holds, though. He is also the all-time steals leader with 581 and the all-time leader in assists with 15,806.

    John Stockton still holds season tickets to Gonzaga games, and he rarely misses a game.

    While he may not smile all that often when the camera pans toward him, Stockton enjoyed an incredible career that Gonzaga fans are incredibly proud of.

Ronny Turiaf

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    Jordan Johnson/Getty Images

    As a senior, Ronny Turiaf led the West Coast Conference in scoring with 15.9 PPG and also averaged 9.5 rebounds per game.

    Turiaf was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round, and while he has not lit the NBA on fire, he has been a valuable center off the bench for several teams, including the Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Clippers and most recently, the Minnesota Timberwolves.

    Throughout his career, Turiaf has averaged 4.8 PPG and 5.6 RPG, but he has won an NBA title with the Heat.

    At just 31-years-old, Turiaf could continue to play in the NBA for years to come.

Austin Daye

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    Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

    Austin Daye makes this list because I am a prisoner of the moment.

    Daye, a member of the San Antonio Spurs, just won the NBA Finals.

    As a Bulldog, Daye averaged 11.6 PPG over his two seasons of play. Daye declared early for the NBA draft because as a 6’11” wing, he was in high demand at the next level.

    While he has hardly made a name for himself as a professional, it can be said that his career could be on an upward trajectory.

    The fact that a coach like Gregg Popovich would bring Daye in may mean that he thinks that there is a role for him to play for the Spurs.

    If Daye can round out his role in San Antonio, he could enjoy a long career.

Kelly Olynyk

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    Claiming that Olynyk is one of Gonzaga’s greatest NBA products after his rookie season seems a bit premature, but the skills Olynyk showed this year point to a bright future.

    Drafted in the first round by the Dallas Mavericks and subsequently traded to the Boston Celtics, Kelly Olynyk proved to be arguably the best value pick in this year’s draft.

    He averaged 8.7 PPG and 5.2 RPG, which was enough to win him All-Rookie Second Team Honors, but it was his play in the final three games of the season that truly showed what he could be.

    As a starter in the final three games, Olynyk averaged 25.7 points 9.3 rebounds. As a true seven-footer and an excellent shooter with a great face-up game, Olynyk could thrive in the NBA that covets his exact skill set.

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