Rem Bakamus suspected his teammates were playing a prank when told by an assistant coach in the locker room he had been requested for an interview at the Gonzaga men’s basketball media day.
Bakamus entered the media room with a bit of skepticism, but the personable walk-on guard from Longview, Wash., was quickly back in character, which is one of the reasons he’s fit in seamlessly with teammates.
As the players stretched at the outset of Monday’s practice, wing Gerard Coleman asked Bakamus what tune he’d been singing earlier.
“Hey now,” Bakamus belted out, “You’re an all-star …”
“He’s energetic and he’s always talking, making jokes,” guard Gary Bell Jr. said. “Funny guy.”
It wasn’t a foregone conclusion Bakamus would attend Gonzaga, but the seed was planted early on. He attended Gonzaga’s team camp for years, and his father, Bill, long-time coach at Mark Morris High, is well known to GU’s staff.
“His dad is a legend everywhere, one of the all-time characters,” GU coach Mark Few said.
Bakamus was trying to decide between playing at Clark Community College, Puget Sound (where his dad went to school) and walking on at Gonzaga. He talked to GU assistant coach Tommy Lloyd last spring and decided on Gonzaga. He joins junior guard Brian Bhaskar, who was selected from GU’s annual walk-on tryout. Bakamus will redshirt. Bhaskar is on crutches with a foot injury.
“It’s really a dream being here and going from a fan watching games and cheering for guys to being part of it, practicing with them and hanging out with them off the court,” Bakamus said. “It has really showed me why this program is so successful when you see how hard the guys are working and how often the coaches are watching film.”
When Kevin Pangos and Drew Barham started planning a trick-shot video, Bakamus pretty much walked on to the project, telling them, “You can’t just have two guys in the video.”
“At first he was filming it, then we gave him some shots but he couldn’t make them,” Pangos said. “He got maybe two or three shots on the video, but he’s on it and his dances make it funny. We’re not that serious. We were just having fun.”
Bakamus wants to have fun and contribute any way possible. GU has a tradition of walk-ons – Mike Nilson, Brian Michaelson, Andrew Sorenson and current Zags Mike Hart and David Stockton – who have made their mark on the program. Hart and Stockton were awarded scholarships in January 2011.
“I’ve got a lot of advice from Mike and David,” Bakamus said. “David has really helped me. He said confidence is the key for him being successful, just convincing yourself you can play at this level.”
Pangos doesn’t think “walk-on” when he sees Bakamus every day.
“If you’re on the team and working hard, you get respect,” Pangos said. “He’s here every day, getting up shots, in the weight room lifting and in practice he’s supporting us. That’s all you can ask.”
Bakamus knows he made the right decision coming to Gonzaga when he phones home.
“My dad tells me he’s proud of me a lot,” Bakamus said, “And he says, ‘You don’t how lucky you are to have this opportunity.’”