In its recent history, Gonzaga basketball has had players from all over the world who have had great success in the program.
Apr 14, 2014; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Robert Sacre (50) shoots during the first half against the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Players such as Kelly Olynyk, Elias Harris, and Rob Sacre are some more recent examples of international players who have had all kinds of success at GU. I want to focus on the international players who are currently on the team. Let’s start with the big man from Poland, Przemek Karnowski.
At 7′ 1″ Karnowski towers over most of his peers. Before coming to Gonzaga for his freshman season, Karnowski was dominant in Polish leagues. When he arrived at Gonzaga he had to adapt his game to fit the American style of the game a little more. His height and strength made it so he had an immediate impact on the team. In his freshman season he did not get a whole lot of playing time due to the dominant front court that was already in place. Karnowski’s had a more prominent role during his sophomore season. He came into the season looking to have improved his speed, footwork, and shooting ability. Last season he show 59.3% from the field. He became a reliable option on offense and asserted himself on defense. Karnowski is primed to have a big impact in the upcoming season. The addition of Kyle Wiltjer bodes well for Karnowski. Wiltjer has the ability to spread the defense out, giving Karnowski more room as well as more favorable one-on-one match ups.
Next let’s take a look at Canadian point guard Kevin Pangos. Pangos has been one of the most important factors in Gonzaga’s offense for the past three years. He has great vision of the court and is deadly from behind the arc. He is also famous for his work ethic. He is often referred to as a “gym rat” and his work in the gym always pays off in the games. One story that game commentators often talk about is his work with a weighted ball. Pangos will practice shooting floaters with a weighted ball so that come game time he is able to get the ball higher in the air in order to avoid defenders and their attempted blocks. Pangos’ work ethic has been apparent during this offseason. He has attended many camps this summer, including the LeBron James Skills Academy. He has worked with the Canadian national team in the past before as well. Pangos is coming off of a season plagued with injury. He managed to continue playing at a high level despite dealing with turf toe almost all season. A healthy Pangos makes Gonzaga a stronger team.
Currently on the roster are two more guards who are international players. There’s Leo Roese from Sao Paulo, Brazil and Dustin Triano from Vancouver, B.C. Both of these guards took redshirt years in their first season with the Zags. It will be interesting to see how Mark Few will utilize these players in the future. Gonzaga has always had great international players. I’m sure they will continue to recruit players from other countries and continue the trend of finding players with great skill.
Gonzaga continues their trend of international recruiting with Domantas Sabonis. This Lithuanian big man is set to make an impact in the future. GU has skilled front court players with experience already, but the Zags are known for their development of international players. Sabonis has had a lot of success in European leagues already and Mark Few and company can continue to develop his skill.