Kelly Olynyk was described by this newspaper in 2009 as “a versatile Canadian capable of playing several positions.” It was but one line in a look ahead to the 2009-10 team after a successful run to the Sweet Sixteen that year.
Fast forward to 2012. Olynyk, who returned from a redshirt year, has added 30-plus pounds and a couple inches to his now-7-foot frame. He’s stronger and can jump higher. He’s the West Coast Conference Player of the Year and a candidate for the prestigious John R. Wooden Award.
Olynyk is the Zags’ leading scorer with an average of 17.5 points per game, and is second on the team in rebounding.
“I didn’t think he was very good,” St. Mary’s coach Randy Bennett said in January of pre-2012 Olynyk. Gonzaga’s 83-78 victory over the Gaels persuaded him otherwise. Bennett said after the defeat: “He’s improved more than anybody in college basketball.”
Feb. 19, 2011: Kelly Olynyk, a sophomore with his hair modestly trimmed, leans in for a floater during a midseason game.
Jan. 26: Olynyk, fresh off a redshirt season in which he bulked up and grew out his hair, shoots against the University of San Francisco.