It was a night that Kelly Olynyk will never forget.
Accompanied by his wife, Jackie, Olynyk traveled to Spokane, Washington to watch his alma mater Gonzaga take on Kent State. In a sensational game that came down to the final minutes, the best part of the night had taken place way before the final horn sounded.
Olynyk will forever be a part of the lore of Gonzaga basketball after the Bulldogs retired his No. 13 jersey. It will now be the fourth jersey to hang from the rafters of McCarthey Athletic Center, joining Adam Morrison (No. 3), Frank Burgess (No. 44), and Utah Jazz legend John Stockton (No. 12).
To be a part of the special day, watch Utah’s All-Access video as they take you behind the scenes of the incredible evening.
A decade later and Olynyk’s college career is almost unheard of.
In a day and age where one-and-done and transferring are more the norms, Olynyk was the rare player who battled through the difficult days, staying with the plan and patiently waiting for his time to come.
And come it did.
After a freshman and sophomore season that saw him start just four of Gonzaga’s 69 games, he averaged a mere 4.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in 12.9 minutes per game.
Following a discussion with head coach Mark Few after the 2010-11 season, it was decided that Olynyk would redshirt the following year to become more physically prepared for the remainder of his college career.
Safe to say it worked.
Olynyk’s time came during the 2012-13 season when he completely dominated college basketball. He averaged 17.8 points and 7.3 rebounds in 26.4 minutes per game, starting 28 of Gonzaga’s 32 games and leading them to a WCC Championship.
Although the season didn’t end the way the Bulldogs wanted — they were eliminated in the second round of the NCAA Tournament (in Salt Lake City) — it was a great ending to Olynyk’s college career.
He was named the WCC Player of the Year and a Consensus first-team All-American.
Olynyk has now parlayed that into a successful 10-year career in the NBA, currently starring where his college career ended. He was traded to Utah this past offseason and has been a starter since day one, averaging 13.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.3 assists on a team-high 45.4% shooting from beyond the arc.
He’s also emerged as one of Utah’s veteran leaders, mentoring younger players such as Walker Kessler, Jarred Vanderbilt, and others.