When the snowstorms hit Spokane last week, Kayleigh and Kaylynne Truong still hadn’t found time to buy some winter boots.
But the chance to build a snowman? That couldn’t wait.
After a sheet of white covered the intramural fields at Gonzaga – “something we never see back in Houston,” Kayleigh marveled – the twins grabbed a couple of teammates and got to work.
“It was life-size, or even bigger,” Kaylynne said – much like the twins’ freshman year at GU. Other than the boots, everything else has gone well ahead of schedule and better than expected.
From the bonding time with their new teammates last summer in Europe to their growing roles in what’s turning into one of the best seasons in Gonzaga women’s basketball history, the twins have experienced one revelation after another.
“We just feel blessed to be here,” Kaylynne said after a recent practice.
Good thing, because the Truongs represent the future of the backcourt at Gonzaga. Like the Wirth twins, they’re almost interchangeable on the court; and even as true freshmen, indispensable.
Both are playing double-digit minutes, Kayleigh almost 20 per game as she spells Jill Townsend on the wing and senior Jessie Loera at her natural position at the point.
“I’ve become more vocal, for sure,” Kayleigh said. “At this level it’s very important to communicate, because if you don’t tell a teammate about a screen, they could get injured.”
Regardless of position, the twins have adjusted on the fly to the faster pace of the game.
“Everything is faster, so you have to improve,” Kaylynne said. “Jessie going at 95 miles an hour helps a lot.”
Kayleigh, who at 5-foot-9 is an inch taller than her sister, also has a slightly higher stature on the court so far. One of the first players off the bench for the 13th-ranked team in the land, she’s averaging 5.2 points while shooting 32% from the field and 33% from long range.
She also has 52 assists against 33 turnovers – below Loera’s ratio of 95 to 46 partly because of a penchant for no-look passes that surprise her teammates as well as her opponents.
“Sometimes (Kayleigh) likes to make the fancy pass when a simple one will do,” Zags head coach Lisa Fortier said. “But it’s nice having multiple point guards out there.”
Kaylynne is proving just as versatile. Making the most of her average of 12 minutes on the court, she’s shooting 40% from the field and 39% from beyond the arc – another reason the Zags rank fifth nationally in 3-point-shooting percentage.
“I know a lot of colleges don’t let freshmen play,” Kaylynne said. “I’m just glad I’m getting court time, so for the next game I know what to improve.”
For the Truongs, the learning curve has never been that steep. In their senior year at Jersey Village High School, they led the Falcons to a 33-3 record and a district title. Each averaged almost 20 points and five assists per game.
By then they’d committed to GU, which checked all the boxes: a winning program, strong departments in kinesiology and exercise science, and something more.
“Our faith has always been a really a big thing,” Kayleigh said. “We always wake up with a prayer, reminding ourselves that we should be giving the glory back to God and just being blessed for everything that we’ve been given and getting to be here at Gonzaga.”
The only downside is that their parents, Vietnamese immigrants, have seen only a handful of games, and their younger brother Jonathan could make it only to the Gulf Coast Showcase in Florida at Thanksgiving.
Four years younger than his sisters, Jonathan also plays the game. Missing the chance to see him play high school ball, the twins settle for videos of his games even as they’re immersed in the college game.
For Kaylynne, there’s joy “in being able to meet new people, teammates, coaches and fans who who support the game.”
“Actually, it’s more than a game,” Kayleigh said. “I couldn’t imagine what life would be like without basketball.”
Someday they will. Kayleigh hopes to be a physical therapist and Kaylynne a kinesiologist – “keeping the sport close to me,” she said.
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