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Gonzaga Basketball

How Richie Frahm, Eric Edelstein and a fateful night at the Martin Centre helped lure Dan Dickau to Gonzaga

It’s unequivocally one of the most important plays made by a Gonzaga basketball player, even if there’s no official documentation.

Before Casey Calvary’s tip-in, Jordan Mathews’ 3-pointer and Jalen Suggs’ buzzer-beater, a simple assist from Richie Frahm helped change the course of program history.

It was Dec. 7, 1998, the eve of a nonconference game against the University of Washington, and Gonzaga’s original first-team All-American was cooped up in a Spokane hotel room, most likely dressed in a purple and gold sweatsuit.

Dan Dickau doesn’t recall the order of events, but he presumes he’d just finished dinner with UW teammates when Frahm, a longtime friend from Vancouver, Washington, and former high school rival, swung by the Huskies’ hotel.

Dickau, a sophomore guard for the Huskies, and Frahm, a junior guard for the Zags, drove to GU’s Martin Centre. Dickau figured they’d get a few shots up, go through some light drills and trade notes on the season . Not all that different from a typical summer day in Vancouver, when they’d reunite for offseason workouts at Club Green Meadows.

Frahm had something more elaborate in mind.

While Dickau hadn’t publicly expressed plans to leave UW after a frustrating, injury-riddled offseason, Frahm knew those thoughts had been percolating. An offseason foot injury was reaggravated midway through Dickau’s sophomore year and his minutes dwindled. While UW was having team success, the Huskies weren’t maximizing what he could do as a point guard.

At Gonzaga, Frahm figured Dickau would have more freedom. After a redshirt year, he’d be able to take the point guard reins from Matt Santangelo, so Frahm started to workshop a recruiting pitch.

“I was beaming since I seemed to have hit the jackpot with a school and group of amazing teammates that valued the same vision that I had,” Frahm said. “We were winning and I was selling the idea that if Dan wanted a change, then he needed to capture this opportunity.”

Before the hotel pickup, Frahm paid a visit to his close friend and Bulldogs play-by-play announcer Eric Edelstein, urging him to show up at the gym later that night.

Dickau may have been in town to play for the Huskies, but he was simultaneously on his first unofficial recruiting visit for the Zags – even if he didn’t know it at the time.

“I remember Richie knocking at my window around 10 p.m. at night and saying, ‘Come on, we’re going to get my buddy Dan to transfer to Gonzaga,’ ” Edelstein said. “ ‘Get your stuff, let’s go.’ ”

Midway through the late-night shootaround, Edelstein busted through the doors of the Martin Centre and waltzed right onto the court.

“Not that weight matters, but he’s just this big guy that seems out of place walking into the gym at 10 at night,” Dickau said. “He’s got this big, loud booming voice and personality and I have no idea what to expect when he walks into the gym.

“He just says, ‘Hey, you’re Gonzaga’s next point guard. Nice to meet you.’ I look over and look at Richie, Richie looks at me and he goes, ‘Well, it would be a good deal.’ ”

Edelstein, now an actor/comedian known for his outsized personality and humor, began rebounding for Dickau. Between jumpers, Edelstein and Frahm continued to sell Dickau on Gonzaga.

In Dickau’s words, “The seed wasn’t planted, but it was definitely fertilized that night and it moved forward in the right direction, I guess.”

Now 24 years removed from a fateful night in Spokane, Dickau will join Frank Burgess, John Stockton, Adam Morrison and Kelly Olynyk in the rafters at McCarthey Athletic Center when his jersey number is honored by the school prior to Thursday’s game against San Francisco .

A late-night meeting with Frahm and Edelstein sealed the deal, but Dickau had been quietly mulling a move to Gonzaga even before the 1998 game. He and Frahm had been close since middle school, when Dickau’s father, Randy, invited a fifth-grade Frahm over for a barbecue and driveway basketball.

“Two kids from Vancouver, Washington, that grew up dreaming together, trading baseball cards,” said Edelstein, who’s also a Vancouver native. “I think there’s still some dispute over an ’85 Topps Mark McGwire (baseball card) that maybe Richie gave Dan when he was sick.”

Dickau’s Prairie High School teammate, Zach Gourde, was committed to play for the Zags. Dickau got to know Dan Monson’s staff when GU coaches would show up at AAU games to recruit Frahm, along with another friend, Tacoma’s Casey Calvary.

Dickau has been described as a gym rat and his interest in Gonzaga heightened when he learned players had 24-hour access to the Martin Center – a privilege he didn’t get at UW. When he was at Gonzaga, Dickau coped with restless nights by going to the gym, sometimes at 11 p.m. or midnight.

“He could not believe that I had access to the gym whenever I needed to get in an extra shooting,” Frahm said.

In an 82-71 loss to Gonzaga, which would make a run to the Elite Eight, Dickau scored in single digits. Afterward, he crossed paths with Bulldogs assistant Mark Few in the tunnel at Spokane Arena. Dickau had intentions of telling Few he was looking to transfer, but the conversation never reached that point.

“Before I could even say anything he said, ‘Hey Dan, hang in there. You guys are going to be fine,’ ” Dickau said. “ ‘You guys got a good squad. You’ve just got to keep plugging along. You guys are going to be OK.’ ”

Once Dickau alerted UW coaches and made his plans known, he sent transfer papers to two schools: Gonzaga and Saint Louis. The Zags were attractive for all the reasons mentioned above. The Bilikens, meanwhile, had just hired Lorenzo Romar, who’d recruited Dickau while he was coaching at Pepperdine. The Waves were among Dickau’s top schools before he signed at UW.

Dickau had lined up official visits to both schools, but Romar accurately predicted the transfer guard wouldn’t make it to his second.

“(Romar) said, ‘You’re going to Gonzaga this weekend, right?’ ” Dickau said. “I said, ‘Yep.’ He goes, ‘I tell you what. You call me on Monday morning when you get back from that visit and if you haven’t committed yet on your visit, let me know and we’ll fly you out the following weekend. But I will say this, Gonzaga’s perfect for you, you’re perfect for Gonzaga, you’re going to go to Spokane this weekend, you’re going to have a great visit. You guys are both going to realize it’s a great fit and you’re not going to even want to come to Saint Louis.’ ”

Dickau had been in contact with Frahm and Gourde – “you’d have to page guys back then,” – and explained that winding up at Gonzaga was “kind of like divine intervention.”

He was also infatuated with Stockton, another undersized guard with an impressive work ethic who parlayed success at Gonzaga into a Basketball Hall of Fame NBA career. Stockton’s No. 12 was off limits, so Dickau reversed the digits and chose to wear No. 21 for the Zags.

“I looked at John Stockton like, that’s probably about how big I’m going to be,” Dickau said. “If I’m going to be as good as I possibly can, I need to focus in and watch and learn from these type of guys.”

Dickau toiled through a challenging but valuable redshirt year, spending hours working on his game, usually under the close watch of a volunteer administrative assistant named Tommy Lloyd. They were not allowed to travel for the team’s road games.

“Whether it’s reverse pivot to jab crossovers to off-handed finishes to step-back to jab shots. You name it, Tommy and I were working on it,” Dickau said. “It was the most difficult, but it was the most rewarding as far as setting myself up to have a good career you could imagine.”

Dickau shadowed Calvary, learned from Frahm and logged hundreds of practice hours as a scout team point guard, setting the table for a productive two-year stint that saw him average more than 20 points, make 188 3-pointers and earn first-team All-American honors from the Associated Press, among other outlets.

“My redshirt year, I was put in so many positions where I was challenged, and I had to grow and I had to go against these guys all the time,” Dickau said. “The thing it did was it improved me every single day.”

Thursday’s ceremony began to materialize two years ago. Dickau was attending a Gonzaga practice prior to the 2021-22 season when Few approached him and said, “Pick a date.”

“What?” Dickau responded.

“We’re going to retire your jersey,” Few said. “It’s long overdue.”

Dickau’s broadcast schedule made it difficult to pull off something last season, and his wife, Heather, was pregnant with the couple’s seventh child.

“We wanted the little one to be part of the event as well,” Dickau said. “Obviously, she’ll have no memory of it, no recollection. At least she’ll be in the pictures.”

Some of Dickau’s former teammates are expected to attend, including Frahm, broadcast partner Richard Fox, Blake Stepp and possibly Gourde. When surveying the calendar, Dickau chose Thursday’s game in part because another ex-teammate, Kyle Bankhead – in his first year as a USF assistant – would be back in town.

Edelstein, who’s working on a new gig back home in Los Angeles, is unable to make it to Spokane for Thursday’s festivities.

“It’s amazing and it’s magical and I’m just so proud of the guy, because he’s such a good and loyal friend,” Edelstein said. “He’s never changed. He’s still the same exact guy. We would hang out all the time when he was in the NBA. He’d get a meal and he’d still go over the receipt – ‘We didn’t order this.’ There’s no changing with Dan.

“He’s such a good dude and such a good family. I’m very proud of the tiny part I played in it.”

Dickau’s path may have led him to Gonzaga regardless, but without a clutch assist from Frahm, it’s anyone’s guess how everything might have played out.

“I believe this evening sealed the deal for Dan after we made the message very clear,” Frahm said. “Get to GU and take over when the class of 2000 leaves.”