Obscurity To Lottery for Kelly Olynyk?
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Every college basketball season, there is a player who comes out of nowhere and elevates their respective game to become a surefire first-round NBA draft pick. The latest player to fit this description is Gonzaga big man Kelly Olynyk, who led the Bulldogs to the top spot in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll for the first time in school history.
Olynyk averaged just 4.8 points in 12.9 minutes per game during his first two collegiate seasons, but exploded to All-American status after redshirting a season. Last year, Olynyk averaged 17.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per contest.
The seven-footer said the decision to forego his final season of eligibility was tough, but he felt he had achieved all of his goals as a student-athlete.
“It was very difficult,” Olynyk said of the decision to turn pro. “Because of how great a place Gonzaga is… It has done wonders for me. The community is so strong and so supportive of the team. It has such a great tradition. I thought I would play all my years there that I could, so it is kind of tough. But it all happened so fast when I came out.
“I was ready to move on. I had already [earned] my degree, so I felt I had already accomplished what I wanted to accomplish and I was ready to move on.”
The latest HOOPSWORLD Consensus Mock Draft has Olynyk being selected in the mid-first round, possibly as high as No. 11 to the Philadelphia 76ers. Meanwhile, Draft Express has him going at No. 12 to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Olynyk believes his skillset and energy level separates him from the rest of his frontcourt peers at the next level.
“I try to separate myself by my skillset, high basketball IQ and versatility on the floor,” Olynyk said. “I always keep my work ethic up and [continue to] be a hard worker.”
Even though Olynyk became an elite player at the collegiate level, the center remains humble enough to know his journey to consistent playing time as a professional may take time to materialize. He is ready to contribute to any role a potential suitor sees fit.
“It depends on what situation you’re in with your team,” Olynyk said. “You’ve got to know what your team needs and what that team wants from you. Hopefully I’m versatile enough where I can deliver in a bunch of different roles.”
Noted personal trainer Tim Grover told HOOPSWORLD last month that most players enter the draft with a false sense of accomplishment and, as a result, take their foot off the gas and allow their game to suffer. Olynyk says he won’t be one of those guys and plans on strengthening his weaker areas.
“Once you’re playing against the best players in the world you have to improve every facet of your game,” Olynyk said of his need to improve. “There’s no part of my game which has peaked, so I think there are a lot of things I can do better in every facet of the game; whether it’s offense, defense, rebounding or athleticism. Everything. You really need to step up your game because you’re going against the best competition now.”