Mar 20, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs player Sam Dower, Jr. is interviewed during practice before the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at Viejas Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Senior Sendoff: Sam Dower

Sam Dower wasn’t always in the spotlight, he wasn’t always the go-to-guy, nor was he the focal point of the team his first four seasons as a Zag. All of that changed his senior year, as Dower emerged as a star for a Gonzaga team that lost all its front court starters.

Dower never earned a great deal of playing time since he was stuck behind a log jam of talent at the forward and center positions. Robert Sacre, Elias Harris and Kelly Olynyk were all stars in the frontcourt before Dower got his chance.

Despite the fact, Dower was always productive in limited minutes. After redshirting his first season, Dower averaged 7.6 points and 3.3 rebounds in his redshirt freshman season, playing behind Sacre and Harris.

The 6-foot-9 forward really started to hit his stride during WCC play that year, earning more minutes and producing more as a result. Dower scored 15 and 27 points in back-to-back games against Saint Mary’s and San Diego respectively. In those two games, Dower connected on 17 of 19 of his shot attempts.

Dower’s production and minutes went down up in his sophomore season, and Dower was an important piece off the bench for the Bulldogs. He will be best known for his breakout performance against the highly ranked Xavier Musketeers. Dower scored 20 points and snagged 10 rebounds in a 7-11 shooting performance in a big time win for the 2011-2012 Zags.

The Brooklyn Park, Minn. native was supposed to be a big contributor for the Zags his junior year, but Olynyk’s breakout year put that on hold. Nevertheless, Dower averaged 6.9 points and 2.7 rebounds as a piece off the bench.

During his last season, Olynyk, Harris and Sacre were all gone and Dower was finally the next man up. In his new role, Dower did not disappoint.

It was clear Dower was going to be a force after the first game of the season. In an exhibition matchup with Simon Fraser, Dower showed his newly found aggressiveness and continued to showcase his offensive prowess. The senior scored 20 points and snagged 12 rebounds in 24 minutes.

Dower’s best overall performance of the season was against BYU in the WCC tournament, where Dower scored 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in a pivotal game that sent the Bulldogs to the NCAA tournament.

For the first time in his career, Dower missed a game due to an injury. After sustaining a hip injury in a game against Kansas State, Dower missed the first WCC games of the season against Santa Clara and San Francisco.

Dower’s best moment of the season – and his career in general – was against Santa Clara, when he received a desperation pass from Kyle Dranginis and drilled a 3-pointer with two seconds left to put the Bulldogs up 54-52.

His senior year was easily his best statically. Dower averaged 14.4 points and 7.2 rebounds.

Dower won’t go down as one of the best players in Gonzaga history, but he will be remembered and missed greatly. Whenever the Bulldogs needed a bucket in the post, Dower was always there. He will be remembered for his slithery smooth jumper and passion on the court.

It is safe to say, Dower’s legacy will be solidified in Bulldog lore for quite some time.

Tags: Basketball College Basketball Gonzaga Bulldogs WCC

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