Fine Seasoning: Olynyk is Regal Not Rusty After Redshirt Junior Season
If All-American voters are paying attention, they better learn how to spell the last name of Gonzaga center Kelly Olynyk. On a highly-ranked Zags squad loaded with scorers, he has been averaging more than 20 points per game since early December, including back-to-back West Coast Conference contests with more than 30 points. Olynyk averaged a modest 4.8 ppg in 2009-10 and 2010-11 before sitting out last season because GU's roster had an abundance of seasoned big men.
If the junior redshirt earns All-American acclaim, he would be the first to achieve the feat after redshirting following two DI campaigns. Upon assessing CollegeHoopedia.com's comprehensive list of All-Americans, there were four sophomore redshirts (Santa Clara's Bud Ogden before freshmen became eligible and two players after one junior college season - UNLV's Armen Gilliam and Illinois' Ken Norman). The fourth non-freshman redshirt most closely resembling Olynyk is Vanderbilt center Will Perdue, who took a RS season after his freshman year with the Commodores before becoming an A-A as a senior.
Excluding World War II veterans, medical redshirts and academic partial qualifiers, there have been only eight freshman redshirts who went on to become All-Americans at least three years later - Juan Dixon, Brian Evans, Harvey Grant, Kirk Haston, Ervin Johnson, Alec Kessler, Al Thornton and DeJuan Wheat.
Following is an alphabetical list showing how Olynyk's potential status fits in with other redshirts (not because of medical reasons) who went on to become All-Americans:
|Eventual All-American||Pos.||School||Redshirt Season||Class||Year(s) All-American|
|Juan Dixon||G||Maryland||1997-98||Fr.||2000-01 and 2001-02|
|Ervin Johnson||C||New Orleans||1988-89||Fr.||1992-93|
|Carlos "Bud" Ogden||F||Santa Clara||1965-66||Soph.||1968-69|
|Al Thornton||F||Florida State||2002-03||Fr.||2006-07|
NOTES: Gilliam and Norman played freshman seasons in junior college. . . . Grant transferred to Oklahoma. . . . Ogden's RS season was before freshmen became eligible.
Olynyk, who averaged 3.8 ppg as a freshman, isn't the only relatively obscure player to thrive as an upperclassmen. Neither Thomas Robinson (Kansas) nor Draymond Green (Michigan State) generated national headlines in their first two seasons before blossoming into NCAA unanimous first-team All-Americans last year.
Robinson, who was anything but one of the country's most dominant players when he scored 2.5 ppg as a freshman in 2009-10, improved as much as anyone during his college career and probably would have become consensus national player of the year except for the emergence of Kentucky freshman phenom Anthony Davis. If not for Davis, Robinson would have posted the lowest average for any national player of the year's first season at the major-college level since the initial award by UPI in 1955.
Admiration for Green's significant impact following a scoring average of 3.3 ppg as a freshman in 2008-09 won't end anytime soon, either. Green is a classic example of why fans shouldn't put too much stock in freshman statistics.
Robinson, who shunned his senior season to declare for the NBA draft, and Green aren't the only All-Americans who endured growing pains. Syracuse playmaker Michael Carter-Williams (2.7 ppg as a freshman last year) is expected to join Robinson on the following alphabetical list of players who averaged fewer than three points per game as a freshman before eventually earning All-American acclaim:
|Eventual All-American||Pos.||School||Freshman Scoring Average|
|Cole Aldrich||C||Kansas||2.8 ppg in 2007-08|
|Lorenzo Charles||F||North Carolina State||2.2 ppg in 1981-82|
|Keith Edmonson||G||Purdue||1.3 ppg in 1978-79|
|Aaron Gray||C||Pittsburgh||1.7 ppg in 2003-04|
|Tom Gugliotta||F||North Carolina State||2.7 ppg in 1988-89|
|Roy Hamilton||G||UCLA||1.2 ppg in 1975-76|
|Jeff Jonas||G||Utah||2.8 ppg in 1973-74|
|Ted Kitchel||F||Indiana||1.7 ppg in 1979-80|
|Bob Kurland||C||Oklahoma A&M||2.5 ppg in 1942-43|
|Tom LaGarde||C||North Carolina||2.2 ppg in 1973-74|
|Kenyon Martin||C||Cincinnati||2.8 ppg in 1996-97|
|John Pilch||G||Wyoming||2.4 ppg in 1946-47|
|Thomas Robinson||F||Kansas||2.5 ppg in 2009-10|
|Steve Scheffler||C||Purdue||1.5 ppg in 1986-87|
|Earl Tatum||G-F||Marquette||1.5 ppg in 1972-73|
|Kurt Thomas||F-C||Texas Christian||0.8 ppg in 1990-91|
|Al Thornton||F||Florida State||2.8 ppg in 2003-04|
|B.J. Tyler*||G||DePaul||2.9 ppg in 1989-90|
*Tyler became an All-American at Texas after transferring to his home state.
Oregon's Wally Borrevik (1.8 ppg in 1940-41), Wisconsin's Gene Englund (2.3 ppg in 1938-39), California's Darrall Imhoff (0.9 ppg in 1957-58), Kansas' Dean Kelley (0.8 in 1950-51), Purdue's Bob Kessler (2.3 ppg in 1933-34), Notre Dame's Leo Klier (2.7 in 1942-43), Oklahoma A&M's Gale McArthur (2.96 ppg in 1948-49), Notre Dame's Bob Rensberger (1.5 ppg in [1940-41](seasons/1940- 41)) and Stanford's George Yardley (2.9 ppg in 1947-48) averaged fewer than three points per game as sophomores when freshmen weren't eligible to play varsity basketball before becoming All-Americans.