Today, Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga’s 7’0″ All-American center, declared for the NBA draft. The Spokesman Reviews Jim Meehan broke the news on twitter today around noon.
After redshirting the previous season, Olynyk experienced one of the best seasons a Gonzaga player has ever had. He averaged 17.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game this season. He was named to Associated Press’s All-American First Team, along with a plethora of other prominent accolades as well.
Olynyk was the centerpiece of a team that won 32 games, and was ranked number one in country coming into the NCAA tournament. Elias Harris and Olynyk were considered one of the best front courts in the entire nation, and now Gonzaga is faced with the task of replacing both of them.
Last season, Olynyk and Harris combined for 32.4 points, 14.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game. The coaching staff will now need to find replacements that can produce at that type of level as these two. However, this might not be as hard as many think; the replacements could be currently on the roster.
Freshman center Przemek Karnowski and junior center Sam Dower are poised for breakout seasons.
Sam Dower digressed in 2012-2013 after a stellar sophomore campaign. Dower averaged 6.9 points and 2.7 rebounds per game this past season for the Bulldogs. Dower has a killer mid-range game, and showcased his ability to shoot from long range all season long. However, his trademark left-handed hook shot looked ineffective this past season, and his one dimensional style of play in the low-post was exposed. To become a more complete scorer, Dower will need to improve his post moves in the off season.
On the defensive end, Dower made significant strides this past season. In previous years, Dower was considered a mediocre defender who was brutalized by high-caliber players. This season, he looked like a completely different player on defense, especially in the latter part of the season.
Karnowski, a 7’1″, 305 pound big man from Poland, came to Gonzaga with lofty expectations. Although he likely did not meet the expectations of many of the Gonzaga faithful, Karnowski played a decent role on an uber successful Gonzaga squad. The freshman averaged 5.7 points and 2.6 rebounds this season. Karnowski asserted his dominance against inferior opponents (22 points against Southern Utah, and 20 points against South Dakota), but looked star struck at times against the top level teams in the WCC. He flashed a great deal of potential, but was not able to consistently show it.
Gonzaga could reload there backcourt with transfer players, along with Karnowski and Dower. Josh Davis and Mike Moser, previously of Tulane and UNLV respectively, are both considering Gonzaga as possible transfer destinations. Check West Coast Convo periodically for updates, along with following @WestCoastConvo on twitter.