A closer look at new UA head coach Tommy Lloyd’s international recruiting
The Gonzaga Bulldogs throughout the last 20 years have flourished with international talent coming through the program — and much of that recruiting success is credited to new Arizona Wildcats head coach Tommy Lloyd.
During Lloyd’s tenure with the Bulldogs from 2001-2021, Gonzaga had five international players get drafted by the NBA including: Ronny Turiaf, Mario Kasun, Kelly Olynyk, Rui Hachimura, and most notably, two-time NBA All-Star Domantas Sabonis.
Sabonis, son of NBA Hall-of-Famer Arvydas Sabonis, spent two years at Gonzaga where he was named to the West Coast Conference All-Freshman Team in 2015.
During his second season in 2016, Sabonis made the First-Team All-West Coast Conference averaging 17.6 points and 11.8 rebounds that season.
From @DarnayTripp in 2015:
“I think he’s the main key to this program for getting international players over.”- Domas Sabonis on Tommy Lloyd.
Arizona fans, get to know your new head coach: pic.twitter.com/YVsPckBFO7
— Brenna Greene (@BrennaGreene_) April 14, 2021
Now in his fifth season in the NBA, Sabonis has made two All-Star appearances and is averaging 19.8 points, 11.5 rebounds and six assists for the Indiana Pacers this season.
During the 2018-19 season, the Bulldogs had four international players on roster that featured Killian Tillie (France), Joel Ayayi (France), Filip Petrusev (Serbia) and NBA first-round draft pick Hachimura (Japan).
Gonzaga, led by Hachimura, finished the season with a 33-4 record as Hachimura went on to average 19.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists.
The Bulldogs made it to the NCAA Tournament that season, advancing all the way to the Elite Eight before losing to Texas Tech.
The Washington Wizards would go select Hachimura as a lottery pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Along with Sabonis and Hachimura, Gonzaga produced other NBA talent including Turiaf, who was drafted in 2005 and was apart of the 2012 Miami Heat championship team.
Turiaf would go on to play 10 years in the NBA for the Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, Washington Wizards, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Houston Rockets forward Olynyk spent three seasons with the Bulldogs, appearing in 101 career games for Gonzaga averaging 8.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists.
In 2013, Olynyk was traded on draft night by the Dallas Mavericks to the Boston Celtics.
Other notable international players who have played under Lloyd at Gonzaga include J.P. Batista (Brazil), Elias Harris (Germany), Kevin Pangos (Canada) and Przemek Karnowski (Poland).