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Former Gonzaga manager/walk-on Brian Pete still in the game at Vanderbilt

UPDATED: Sun., Nov. 8, 2020

Gonzaga senior guard Brian Pete hits a shot against Pepperdine on Feb. 17, 2018, in the McCarthey Athletic Center.   (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga senior guard Brian Pete hits a shot against Pepperdine on Feb. 17, 2018, in the McCarthey Athletic Center.  (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Brian Pete’s career path has been unique, to say the least, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

Devoted fans will recall Pete as the popular Gonzaga manager-turned-walk-on. The Oregon native traded a dress shirt and tie for a uniform as a senior in December 2017 when injuries left the Zags low on numbers.

Pete finished at Gonzaga in 2018 and began working at Nike, but couldn’t get basketball out of his mind.

“I’m engaged to a girl I met at Gonzaga and at the time she was in Seattle and the feeling was, ‘If we are going to go do something, now is the time,’ ” Pete said. “We loved the Pacific Northwest, but if we stayed it would be harder to leave. Why not go try something?”

Pete reached out to then-Vanderbilt graduate assistant Kurt Bambauer, a former Zags manager who put in a good word with Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse. Pete had a solid résumé with his GU background and summer internships before his junior and senior years with the San Antonio Spurs, thanks to an assist from family friend Gregg Popovich.

Pete’s late father, Kevin, played football and golf at Division III Pomona-Pitzer. He tried out for the Popovich-coached basketball team but didn’t make it. The two became longtime friends before Kevin died when Brian was 12. Brian stayed in touch with the legendary NBA coach.

Pete is in his second season as a grad assistant, one of six on Vanderbilt’s staff. Bambauer moved up to video coordinator.

“It could be everything from doing laundry to pulling clips for a scout,” Pete said of his job description.

“Even some of the more undesirable tasks are such a small price to pay to watch and learn from coach Stackhouse.”

Pete is among several recent GU walk-ons or managers carving out careers in basketball. Rem Bakamus, a popular walk-on who finished in 2017, is a grad assistant at Baylor. Connor Griffin, who walked on at GU, left to play football at Washington before finishing up on Vanguard University’s basketball team, is a video coordinator at Pepperdine. Former manager Brendan Sabean works in the front office of the Austin Spurs, San Antonio’s G League team. Former manager Adam Davidoff is a grad assistant at his alma mater.

Pete is getting married in July. Bambauer will be the best man and former Zag walk-on Jack Beach is a groomsman.

Pete’s long-term goal is coaching.

“I definitely got into this to be a coach one day, whether it’s college or pro or high school,” Pete said. “When the season wraps up, I’ll probably reach out to some college contacts and see if I can get a job. It seems like the most logical step.”Jim Meehan can be reached at (509) 459-5500 or at jimm@spokesman.com

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