Pierre Marie Altidor-Cespedes and David Burgess will not return to the Gonzaga University men’s basketball team next season.
Bulldogs coach Mark Few confirmed as much Tuesday afternoon, saying the two players leave the program “on good terms.”
Altidor-Cespedes, a 6-foot-1 junior guard who started 49 games in his three seasons at GU, will graduate this spring and, according to Few, is considering trying to play professionally overseas.
“This was his choice, it wasn’t mine,” Few said. “He just wanted to go.”
Neither Altidor-Cespedes nor Burgess could be reached for comment, but Few said Burgess, an injury-plagued and seldom-used 6-10 sophomore center, is looking into the possibility of playing closer to home in Irvine, Calif., most likely at an NCAA Division II or NAIA school.
If either player decides to transfer to another Division I school, he will have to sit out a year under the NCAA’s transfer rule.
“And I don’t think that either of them is interested in doing that,” Few said.
Altidor-Cespedes, a former prep standout at Montreal’s St. Champlain School, is, perhaps, the highest-profile player to leave the GU program since the Bulldogs burst onto the national basketball scene with their run to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament back in 1999.
Recruited by several Big East Conference schools, Altidor-Cespedes had an immediate effect on the GU program, quickly establishing himself as one of the best perimeter defenders in the West Coast Conference.
Capable of playing either the point or shooting guard position, he started four games as a freshman and 31 as a sophomore, when he averaged 4.2 points and 2.6 assists.
As a junior last season, he started 14 games but saw his playing time drop dramatically late in the year.
Few instead went primarily with the backcourt trio of senior Derek Raivio, sophomore Jeremy Pargo and freshman Matt Bouldin.
“He was a great kid and certainly made some great contributions through the years here,” Few said. “We wish him the best, that’s for sure.”
Altidor-Cespedes was able to graduate early after being able to transfer several of his college-level high school credits to Gonzaga.
Burgess, who transferred from Brigham Young University during the middle of the 2005-06 season, played in six games last winter after becoming eligible in early December and being slowed throughout the season by a bad knee.
A highly touted prep prospect out of Woodbridge High School, Burgess underwent surgery on both of his ankles during his freshman year at BYU and was granted a medical hardship and extra year of eligibility. He appeared in three games the following season before transferring to GU at the end of the first semester.
After being cleared to play last winter, he logged 23 minutes of playing time and finished the year with six points and eight rebounds.
With four new recruits scheduled to come in next fall and two seniors leaving from last year’s 23-11 team, the Bulldogs needed to release two scholarship players to reach the NCAA limit of 13 – provided Josh Heytvelt and Theo Davis, who were suspended indefinitely after being arrested on drug possession charges in mid-February, are eventually reinstated.
But Few insisted that fact had nothing to do with the departures of Altidor-Cespedes and Burgess.
“It wasn’t like we called them in and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got better kids than you,’ ” Few said. “This is what both of those kids wanted to do.”