Draft night on Thursday was a big day for the Celtics. Aside from the blockbuster deal that dealt Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the C’s scooped up 22-year-old Canadian Kelly Olynyk in the first round. If you casually watched college basketball this year, you know Olynyk as the long-haired big-man that led the Gonzaga Bulldogs to a number 1 seed in the NCAA national tournament, only to see them defeated in the 2nd round. But here are five things you didn’t know about the new Celtic.
1. A Basketball Family
Olynyk comes from a family that knows basketball. His mother, Arlene, was a university-level referee and also worked for the Toronto Raptors from 1995-2004 as a scorekeeper. His father, Ken, is now the Athletic Director at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia. Prior to that, he coached the University of Toronto from 1989-2002 and coached the Canadian junior national team from ’83-’96. His claim to fame is cutting a young Canadian named Steve Nash from the junior national team.
2. Staying In Canada
Many Canadian-born basketball players choose to play at prep high schools in the U.S. as a way to gain more of an audience from college scouts. Olynyk on the other hand, chose to stay in Canada for his high school years. This meant his only real exposure to college coaches was at summer camps or national team tournaments.
3. Two Sport Athlete
Many professional athletes found success in multiple sports in their younger years. For instance, former NBA great Allen Iverson also played football and NFL all-star tight end Jimmy Graham played both football and basketball for University of Miami. Olynyk is another athlete to add to that list, having played quarterback for his high school team until his junior year, when he suffered a broken arm near his shoulder joint during a playoff game.
4. Olynyk The Point Guard?
Olynyk developed his skills in high school as a Point Guard. He stayed at the position in eleventh grade when he grew from 6’3 to 6’10. It wasn’t until he grew two more inches as a Gonzaga freshman that he would be moved to playing in the post. He didn’t exactly excel with the position change right off the bat though, which leads us to our next fact.
5. Redshirting As A Junior
Redshirting is something relatively common for college underclassmen who want to develop their bodies without losing a year of eligibility, but it is also most common to do as a freshman. Olynyk, unhappy with his lackluster stats through his freshman and sophomore seasons, decided to redshirt as a junior, meaning he would be able to practice with the team, but not play in any games. He spent the year beefing up and changing from a lanky 7-footer who had no chance against stronger defenders into a force down low. The decision worked out. He went from averaging 3.8 and 5.8 points a game respectively in his first two seasons, to 17.8 points a game the season after redshirting.
Bobby Driscoll is a student at Franklin Pierce University. He is currently interning at CBS Boston for the Summer of 2013.