What do you get when you put an easy-going Inland Northwest native with a thoughtful kid from Lithuania and an extrovert from Texas?
“The trio,” said Gonzaga junior forward Anton Watson, who grew up in Coeur d’Alene before moving to Spokane and helping Gonzaga Prep win a pair of state titles.
“We are, how to say, the three best friends,” said junior forward Martynas Arlauskas who hails from Kaunas, Lithuania. “Spokane is like my second home.”
“Like the three amigos, the three musketeers,” said junior forward Drew Timme, proud graduate of J.J. Pearce High in Richardson, Texas.
Gonzaga’s 2019 recruiting class was a big one in numbers (six) and size (three forwards and two posts) with Oumar Ballo, Pavel Zakharov, Brock Ravet and “the trio.”
Ballo transferred to Arizona after the 2021 season and has helped the second-ranked Wildcats reach the Sweet 16. Zakharov transferred to Cal Baptist, played in four games before apparently returning to his native Russia. Ravet, a first-year assistant coach at Columbia-Burbank High near the Tri-Cities, left GU’s team for personal reasons a few weeks before the 2019-20 season opener.
“We’re the only ones left,” Timme said. “We all came in together and we’re stuck together. I couldn’t ask for better friends.”
They truly became fast friends.
“It was one day,” Arlauskas said, “and we’re cool.”
“Right when we got here we knew that was a squad,” Watson said. “I was roommates with Drew, but Marty was right next door, so we were all kicking it every single day in the summer and it’s kind of been that way for the past three years.”
When Timme committed to the Zags in November 2018, all three were ranked in the top 50 nationally by 247sports. Their different personalities and backgrounds connected almost immediately. Why? They have theories.
“I would say we just all have our own way,” said Watson, who spent a few weeks with Timme last summer working with trainer Tyler Relph in Dallas. “Drew is out there sometimes, he’ll be talking crazy. I’m more the mellow type. Marty is more the mediator.”
“We’re all outgoing,” Timme insisted. “Ton is outgoing when you get to know him. Marty is smart and funny. We have a lot of fun together.”
If only they could agree on picking a restaurant that works for three palates. Watson’s favorites are Ezell’s Famous Chicken and MOD Pizza. Arlauskas is on board with MOD while Timme prefers King of Ramen.
Let the debate begin.
“It’s like trying to pick a restaurant with your wife,” Timme said. “I know how it is in my family. Where do you want to eat? And then you name four restaurants and it’s like ‘no, no, no, no.’ It’s continual bickering. We’re like a married couple with that.”
Timme often is outnumbered.
“Drew is all over the place,” Watson said, “so that’s why we don’t let him make the call.”
Timme quietly acknowledged that he likes MOD, too, but stands up for King of Ramen just to irritate his friends.
The trio’s favorite pastime, like many of their classmates, is video games – specifically, FIFA soccer and Call of Duty.
“We play all the time, like low-key right when we get home we’re on it,” Timme said. “I hate to say it but I’m probably the worst one of the group. Marty’s the best by far, but I’ve been grinding, perfecting my craft a little more and I’ve been getting some upsets. I’m a three seed.
“Call of Duty, I would say Ton and I are the best. Marty’s probably the three seed.”
The seeding changes for the Arlauskas-Timme halfcourt shooting competitions just minutes before games that have been going on for two seasons. (This isn’t to be confused with GU’s traditional halfcourt sessions that conclude walk-throughs earlier on game days.)
The two exit the court at warp speed after one hits the shot.
“We wanted to do something crazy, but only this year the trainer started counting who is winning so it became very competitive,” Arlauskas said. “So it’s now this whole big thing.”
The score? “It’s tied,” Arlauskas shrugged.
Timme was relieved to hear that. He was certain he trailed by one. The ritual does serve a purpose, even though they endured minutes of heckling from the Saint Mary’s student section last month before one of them finally connected.
“Just to have some fun because the games do get really serious,” Timme said. “Serious is good, but I don’t like to do things too serious. We do that to lighten the mood.”
Consider that the three are forwards, they have different roles on the team and they’ve banged heads in practice for the last three years, yet they remain best friends. That will never change, Timme said.
“Marty and I talked about playing for Zalgiris (in Arlauskas’ hometown of Kaunas) at the end of our careers,” Timme said. “We’d always watch them during our freshmen year a lot, Ton as well.
“We’re going to stay in touch the rest of our lives. I wouldn’t trade them for the world.”
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