The high school version of Silas Melson that excited everyone upon his commitment to Gonzaga four years ago, and the senior version of Silas Melson that graduates this year are seemingly two completely different players.
Melson came into Gonzaga from Jefferson High School in Portland, Oregon, as a high level scorer, and by all accounts, that is what he was supposed to be at Gonzaga originally. His freshman year would be a redshirt season, where he could gain some seasoning behind Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. That all went out the window when Josh Perkins had his face kicked in and the Zags, suddenly lacking depth at guard, burnt Melson’s redshirt for minutes.
Melson’s stats are never going to jump off the page, and it is one of the reasons he will go down as one of the most underrated Gonzaga players ever, despite the fact he owns the second most wins in team history. Melson, greased in high school to be a high level scorer, finished his collegiate career averaging just 6.7 points per game. What he will be remember for, however, is being exactly what it means to be a Gonzaga Bulldog.
Melson went from being the No. 1 scoring option in high school to the No. 1 defensive option in college—perhaps the most dramatic shift in mindset you can ask any basketball player. He adapted his game to fit exactly how the coaching staff needed him to fit, and you didn’t hear a negative peep otherwise.
“He’s a real Zag,” assistant coach Tommy Lloyd said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked and he’s done it without complaining and with a positive attitude. At a program like Gonzaga, everyone has to make sacrifices. You come with a plan, but if it doesn’t work out exactly as you envisioned, you stick with it and you excel in any role that you’re asked to do and he’s done that.”
Mind you, Melson still had the penchant for the big moments (let’s ignore the fact he missed the following free throw—this take to the hoop is still chill-worthy and, considering this was in his hometown of Portland, extra fun).
La canasta de Silas Melson para llevar a Gonzaga a la segunda prórroga frente a Florida: pic.twitter.com/kkkBk8BHf5— Esperando Marzo (@esperandomarzo) November 25, 2017
It was every single defensive stop, loose ball recovery, high five, and all around hustle play that Melson will be remembered for, even if the stats don’t necessarily remember him for that. He was a quiet player, similar to the person he replaced in GBJ. At the end of each game, he was just as key to the win as his teammate that dropped 20 points.
It seems odd to think that a player who made it to the Sweet 16 every year he was in college could be considered underrated. But for those of us who had the pleasure of watching his dedication to the game, his teamwork, his sportsmanship, and his constant ode to his upbringing (he wore the number zero to represent the state of Oregon) for the past four years, we are the truly lucky fans.