Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk sought advice from a “plethora of people,” from family to coaches to ex-Zag Adam Morrison to NBA guard and fellow Canadian Steve Nash.
Olynyk made pro-con lists, at his mother’s urging. The 7-foot junior from Kamloops, B.C., ultimately reached information overload.
“Everyone kind of gives you their pitch and spiel,” he said. “It’s funny because every conversation ends with, ‘But it’s your decision, go with your heart and how you feel.’”
So he did, announcing Friday – on his 22nd birthday – that he will skip his senior season at GU and pursue his life-long dream of playing in the NBA. He informed coach Mark Few and his teammates Thursday night.
Olynyk joins Paul Rogers (1997), Morrison (2006) and Austin Daye (2009) as Bulldogs to leave school early and declare for the NBA Draft.
“I don’t think people knew at all what was going through my mind,” Olynyk said. “It was definitely a seesaw, teeter-totter effect. A week ago I was leaning toward coming back. I really wanted to and thought it was the best thing.
“It’s really hard to gather your thoughts. It seemed like every person I talked to my view would change. I didn’t know whether that was a sign to stop talking to people or do I need to talk to more people. In the end, this was best decision for me.”
Olynyk, a consensus All-American who also earned academic All-America honors, averaged 17.8 points and 7.3 rebounds for the Bulldogs, who finished 32-3. He was a reserve his first two seasons, but began to blossom during a redshirt season in 2012.
“Nine months ago I don’t think this is what I envisioned today,” Olynyk said. “It came quicker than I expected and I’ve got to capitalize.”
ESPN.com projects Olynyk going 14th to Utah in the June draft. Most mock drafts list Olynyk as a mid first-round pick. The top 14 are considered lottery picks. Under the rookie salary scale, the 14th selection would earn roughly $3.2 million guaranteed in his first two seasons.
Olynyk said he hasn’t chosen an agent and wasn’t sure if he would finish out the semester or immediately begin training.
“We are very proud of what Kelly was able to accomplish at Gonzaga, both on the court and in the classroom,” coach Mark Few, who was on a recruiting trip, said in a GU release. “We wish him all the best in his next challenge.”
Olynyk’s departure and Elias Harris’ graduation leaves Gonzaga without its top scorers from last season and thin on front-court depth. The two forwards combined to average 32.4 points and nearly 15 rebounds per game. GU returns rising senior Sam Dower (6.9 points, 16 minutes per game) and 7-1 sophomore Przemek Karnowski (6.5 points, 10.7 minutes). Angel Nunez, a 6-8 transfer from Louisville, will become eligible for the second half of next season.
“I think if you put (Dower and Karnowski) on a lot of different NCAA teams you have a starting front court and they’re developing well,” Olynyk said.
Gonzaga is in the mix for two transfers who are expected to be eligible for the 2014 season. UNLV forward Mike Moser is expected to visit Oregon and Washington this weekend and is tentatively scheduled to visit Gonzaga next weekend. The 6-8 Moser, who averaged 14 points and 10.5 rebounds two years ago, dropped to 7.1 points and 6.1 rebounds last season but suffered a dislocated elbow Dec. 9.
The other potential transfer is Tulane forward Josh Davis, who averaged 17.5 points and 10.3 rebounds while earning All-Conference USA first-team honors. The 6-8 Davis, who began his career at North Carolina State, is reportedly considering Gonzaga, Illinois, Iowa State and Pittsburgh.
GU has two incoming freshmen, 6-8 Lucas Meikle and 7-foot Ryan Edwards, but both figure to redshirt.