Courtesy Gonzaga athletics
SPOKANE, Wash. – Saying "it was a really tough decision," Gonzaga University men's basketball All-American Kelly Olynyk announced Friday he will forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the NBA Draft.
Olynyk informed Gonzaga head coach Mark Few of his decision Friday morning and then contacted his Bulldog teammates to share the news with them.
"We are very proud of what Kelly was able to accomplish at Gonzaga both on the court and in the classroom," stated Few. "The fact he was the Academic All-American for all of college basketball is a great example of what he is all about. We wish him all the best in his next challenge."
Olynyk, who redshirted the 2011-12 season, was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Year this past season. He averaged 17.8 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.7 assists/game and 1.1 blocks/game in helping Gonzaga to a 32-3 overall record, a 16-0 WCC mark, the WCC Tournament title and a 15th straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.
His stellar output on the court garnered him many accolades. The junior was named Associated Press All-America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association All-America, Sporting News All-America, National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Division I All-America and was tabbed as the third Zag to be named a John R. Wooden Award Top Five honoree in the program's history and the first since 2006.
The 7-0 forward from Kamloops, B.C., was also named the Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association Scholar-Athlete of the Year for men's basketball as well as being named to the Scholar-Athlete Team. Olynyk, who graduated in December with a 3.53 GPA in accounting, is currently finishing his first semester of the MBA program at Gonzaga. He was named to the Capital One All-Academic First Team as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America.
Olynyk said the decision was a tough one.
"I love this place, I love my teammates, but the NBA has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid so it was something I had to act on," he said. "It's your dream. That's the highest level and everyone wants to play at the highest level. It will be a journey, but I think it will be a fun one. You have to make sure you are ready to go and you are ready to play. You're just moving on and you don't know what's going to happen up there."
Olynyk said he has no indication when his name might be called June 27 at the NBA Draft.
"Depending who you talk to the numbers slide one way or the other. No one can really tell until draft night," he said of his status.
He sought the opinions of several people in making the decision, but no one person gave him the best advice.
"I talked to a lot of people and a lot of people gave their two cents that I had to try to sort through what worked for me and what were deciding factors for me. I kind of pieced together a puzzle from a lot of people so I wouldn't say there was one person who just stood out," Olynyk said of the decision-making process.
"It was tough. When you talk to people no one really tells you to go or not go; everyone says it's your decision. Everyone tells you why you should go and why you could come back. Everyone kind of leaves you hanging in that sense. They just say go with your heart, go with your gut and that's what will make the best decision."
Olynyk said he's leaving with too many memories to mention.
"There's too many to name; the atmosphere, the people, the community. The family atmosphere of this place is uncanny and I think that's one of the best memories," he said.
Other Bulldogs who have left Gonzaga early for the NBA were Paul Rogers following his junior season in 1997 who was a second-round pick of the Los Angeles Lakers, Adam Morrison following his junior season of 2006 and was a first-round pick of the Charlotte Bobcats and Austin Daye following his sophomore season of 2009 who was a first-round pick of the Detroit Pistons.