As Gonzaga has established itself on the national basketball scene, a handful of stars have helped catapult the Zags. Whether it be Dan Dickau, Ronny Turiaf or Adam Morrison, there have been numerous players that have helped elevate the program.
While the previously mentioned guys may have been in the spotlight, it was the contributions from other players that helped Gonzaga build some truly special teams. We recently had the chance to catch up with Stephen Gentry, who played on some truly talented teams. Gentry is now on the staff at Texas A&M and was kind enough to answer some of our questions about his time on the court at GU. Here is the first part of our interview with Stephen.
TSSF: Talk about your path since graduating from Gonzaga. What led you into staying in the sport and how did you end up in your current role at Texas A&M?
Stephen Gentry: I always knew I wanted to get into coaching so even during my time at GU I began to make as many coaching contacts as I could. One of my contacts was with then Miami Heat Assistant Coach Erik Spoelstra, a fellow WCC alum. Following my graduation from GU in 06 I was able to land an internship with the Heat in their video scouting department. It was an unbelievable learning experience and one that taught me how to truly work. I worked literally around the clock and did everything from break down film, to help with workouts, to grab lunch for the coaches. The summer my internship was up Coach Turgeon, who had just accepted the position at Texas A&M, was looking for a Video Coordinator to add to his staff. It was a great opportunity to build on my experience with the Heat and head up the scouting and player development areas for A&M. With Coach Turgeon we had a good run with four consecutive NCAA tournaments and I was able to learn a lot through the many responsibilities and freedom that he gave me as well as just observing him on a daily basis. Turgeon left for Maryland last Spring and I was set to join him as well but then an opportunity arose to stay on the A&M staff and move into the Director of Basketball Operations position. It was a really tough decision to part with Coach Turgeon but I felt it was time to get "uncomfortable" and take on some new challenges. In my new role I do a little bit of everything from game scheduling to overseeing our recruiting database to camps. The many hats I have worn while at A&M have given me a great perspective on what it takes to run a program and I'm thankful and blessed to be able to have worked with so many great coaches.
TSSF : You often hear about how unique the family atmosphere is around the program at Gonzaga. Can you explain what that family atmosphere really entails and how unique it is in college athletics?
Stephen Gentry: Gonzaga truly is a family and that entails not just the basketball team but the university and community as well. I had a wonderful experience at GU both on and off the court but I didn't realize just how special of a place it was until I had left. As I've moved through the coaching ranks the amount of reverence and respect that GU holds in the basketball community is pretty neat and I say with a lot of pride that I was a very small part of it! Once you play at Gonzaga you are a Zag for life and I think the brotherhood shared amongst all former players is special. Not a day goes by where I don't talk to a former teammate. I think each generation of Zags takes pride in handing down the torch to the next generation and building on the success. The level of investment that the former players have in the program is unique. Funny story but I was at the Final Four this past Spring grabbing a Starbucks when I heard a "Hey, Shaggy!" It was Robert Sacre from across the hotel who was in town for the senior All-Star game. I had met him twice when he came on his recruiting visits six years earlier but yet he remembered me. I think that shows just how connected all Zags are as well as a testament to the character that Coach Few and staff bring into the program each season.