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Monday, June 1, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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GU basketball notes: Byron Wesley made the right choice

Byron Wesley’s lone season at GU has been a success. (Tyler Tjomsland)
Byron Wesley’s lone season at GU has been a success. (Tyler Tjomsland)

Byron Wesley’s career will not end Saturday following Senior Night against BYU, but it’s an appropriate benchmark to appraise his one season at Gonzaga.

Wesley left USC as a graduate transfer in search of a winning program that plays team basketball and qualifies for the postseason. Check, check, check.

“We’d like to be unde- feated right now but what are we, 28-1,” he said. “I don’t think it could have gone much better. Great coaches, really positive teammates and our work isn’t done yet.”

Wesley had a plan and so did his father, Byron Sr., who set up visits from numerous coaches in one-hour intervals at the family home in southern California. The elder Wesley had researched every program and knew the personnel picture, the stats, style of play, etc.

“I think (Pittsburgh’s) Jamie Dixon was coming out when Donny (Daniels) and I got there,” coach Mark Few said. “We came out and a big limo is sitting there and (Baylor’s) Scott Drew gets out. When he got done, I think it was (Indiana’s Tom) Crean and then (Oklahoma State’s) Travis Ford. It was boom, boom, boom.

“It was perfect because you didn’t have to drag it out for three hours, just get to the point and they did a good job sorting through all that.”

Wesley will be honored Saturday alongside seniors Gary Bell Jr. and Kevin Pangos. The 6-foot-4 wing has started every game, ranks second in minutes played (27.3 per game) and assists (2.45). He’s third in scoring (10.6) and fourth in rebounds (4.9).

“He’s really an unsung hero in this,” Few said. “He’s been unbelievably selfless. He made a sacrifice to come up here, gave up a bunch of points and shots to win. For a guy to buy into that in a short stretch, it’s pretty remarkable.”

Wesley credits his coaches and teammates for helping him make a smooth transition.

“A lot of credit to Coach Few and his staff for having a well-developed plan,” Wesley said. “He told me exactly how he saw me fitting in with the program and the rest is history.”

Storm brewing

Gonzaga is familiar with opponents’ fans storming the court after upset wins. It happened after WCC road losses to Portland (2014), Santa Clara (2011), Loyola Marymount (2010) and San Francisco from 2010-2012. After a last-second loss at Butler in 2013, David Stockton was pin-balled around by on-rushing fans before being ushered to the sideline by associate athletic director Steve Hertz.

Kansas State fans rushed the court following Monday’s win over Kansas, putting several KU players and coaches in harm’s way. There were no serious issues, but some are calling for an end to court-storming.

“It’s time to do something and the teams in our league aren’t equipped because they’re not used to drawing people,” Few said. “It crossed my mind down at Saint Mary’s. I had my little daughter on the bench. I’m sure she would have been fine. But college kids getting in guys’ faces in a high-intensity moment, it’s not safe.”

Thanks Cal

Kyle Wiltjer and John Calipari, his former coach at Kentucky, exchanged tweets this week after Wiltjer was honored by two national outlets as player of the week.

Tweeted Calipari: “Proud of (Wiltjer), who just won his second national POW honor. He’s on a long list of players who say I’ve held them back. Love ya, kid.”

Replied Wiltjer: “Appreciate the support coach, right back at you.”

Wiltjer explained that his former coach wasn’t jabbing him. “No, not at all,” Wiltjer said. “It’s kind of a joke he always used to say, like ‘Anthony Davis only averaged 7 points, he held him down.’ He texted me and he’s really happy about everything.”

Notes

Junior guard Eric McClellan said he’s making slow progress in his recovery from a foot injury. He was limited to 20 minutes per practice when he made his debut in mid January. He’s currently at 45 minutes per day. … Junior forward Angel Nunez, who absorbed a blow to his head in practice last Wednesday and experienced concussion-like symptoms, returned to practice Tuesday. … The WCC is expanding its all-conference awards. The conference will continue its 10-player first-team but it has added a five-player second-team. Honorable mention will continue, but will require at least two votes for inclusion. Ten players made honorable mention last season.

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