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All things Olynyk

Waiting for return calls from Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett and Gaels center Omar Samhan, so we'll post more information on Kelly Olynyk, the 6-10 Canadian who committed to Gonzaga.

Read on.


Olynyk said he’s comfortable playing anywhere on the court.

“I like to go inside-outside, shoot the ball from everywhere,” he said. “How I play depends on the matchups. If it’s a smaller guy I like to take him inside. I like to distribute the ball and create for my teammates and make their lives easier.

Areas he needs to improve? “I need to get a little bigger. The (U.S.) game is a little tougher and fast-paced and I also need to work on shooting and fundamental skills,” he said.

--As a member of the Canadian junior national team, Olynyk’s education was already paid for if he had chosen a Canadian school, his father said. Olynyk said he chose to play in the U.S. “because there are way more opportunities after college. It’s a great opportunity.”

--Olynyk said he will officially sign in April. By then, he will be back at the National Elite Development Academy in Hamilton, with what he hopes is a provincial championship (roughly the equivalent of a state title) from his final season at South Kamloops Secondary School in tow. The provincial championships are March 11-14, according to his father, Ken, a volunteer assistant with the team.

“NEDA, in theory, is the top 12 kids in the country and they train on an annual basis,” Ken said. “Normally kids stay there and go to school there. Even though Kelly is home now and going to South Kamloops, he takes his computer lab and takes his courses on-line or somebody here would complain.”

As of Monday afternoon, Olynyk hadn’t informed fellow GU recruit Manny Arop of his decision, but was planning to when he gets the chance. Olynyk, an excellent student, will continue taking his classes on-line when he returns to NEDA.

--No, he is not related to the former Seattle Sonic guard Frank Oleynick, though Ken Olynyk said he gets asked that question from time to time.

--Yes, Olynyk and his dad might drive to Spokane (it’s roughly six hours) for Thursday’s game. Olynyk attended the season opener against Montana State-Billings.

--Olynyk’s team is 20-1. The lone loss came against Port Townsend, Wash., at a tournament in Washington. South Kamloops lost by two in overtime. U.S. and Canadian prep rules are different. Washington plays eight minute quarters, Canada 10 (games are 40 minutes compared to 32 here). There is a shot clock in Canada, none in Washington boys’ games.

Port Townsend is 12-1 and ranked No. 2 in Class 1A.

--Olynyk scored 52 points in one game (remember there’s that extra 8 minutes) and has only been below 20 points once. His father said Kelly scored 19 in one game. Ken added that Kelly has been first-team all-league since his sophomore season.

South Kamloops is classified as Triple A, the biggest of three levels in Canada.

“In our league, there are a couple of teams that are pretty good and the other teams, even though they play Triple A would be stronger Double As,” Ken said.

“We’ve been fortunate we’ve played in a number of tournaments, one in Edmonton and two in Vancouver, that were very good and we hosted a tourney with some of the top teams. We’ve probably played 10 teams that were ranked when we played them.”

Ken coached at the university level for 25 years and was involved with the junior and senior national programs. He coached collegiately in Lethbridge and Toronto.

--Olynyk has played with and against Robert Sacre.

“He’s really talented, tremendous stature and size,” Olynyk said. “It’ll be great to play with him.”

And, of course, he’s very familiar with Arop’s game.

“I really like Manny’s game,” he said. “He’s extremely talented. With me and him at NEDA playing together, it’s an added bonus that we get to play together the next four years. As we develop I think we’ll work well together and be great for the Canadian (national) teams.”

--Olynyk has shot up from 6-4 in grade 10 (sophomore) to 6-10 at present. His dad isn’t certain he’s done growing and neither is Kelly. His body type and his playing style somewhat resemble GU’s Austin Daye. Not comparing the two, but they are of similar builds and both are most comfortable on the perimeter.

“I think he’s a great role model,” Olynyk said. “He’s a very talented player.”

--Ken Olynyk on his sons’ strengths and weaknesses:

“He’s a great passer, he sees the floor. He also has a very versatile game. He can score inside, mid-range and has range well outside the 3-point line. He shoots the ball effortlessly.

“He’s become a much better rebounder than he was in the past. And the other thing I’ve always appreciated is that I don’t remember in a big game, a championship game or a game against an arch rival, that he hasn’t come and played well. He’s very unassuming. When you look at him, you kind of wonder if he’s even trying. He doesn’t show a lot of outward emotion.”

“He’s smart and he understands defense but he doesn’t want to foul so he isn’t as tough defensively as I’d like to see him, but I’m probably his toughest critic.”

Ken said his son has to work to keep weight on, but “he’s solid. I did some stuff with him in the post the other day and I was quite surprised by how strong he is and how hard it is to move him. He needs to get to around 220-225. He lifts regularly and conditions. It’s just a matter of time. He’s not very mature yet, but it’s going to come. He doesn’t shave yet.”

--Olynyk’s sister attends the University of Victoria and is a standout rugby player.

“She represented Canada on the U-19 national team,” Ken said. “He has a younger sister that is a very good athlete, but she’s also into drama.”

Jim Meehan
Jim Meehan joined The Spokesman-Review in 1990. Jim is currently a reporter for the Sports Desk and covers Gonzaga University basketball, Spokane Empire football, college volleyball and golf.

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