Stephen Gentry - Straight From America's Heartland
Feb. 27, 2006
February 11, 2006 - the day of the Gonzaga/Stanford game at approximately 8:27 a.m., Bulldogs senior guard Stephen Gentry hit the biggest shot of his career, or at least the one he will most be remembered for. Coming off a screen set by former Duke University and current ESPN analyst Jay Bilas, Gentry drained a jumper from the top left corner of the paint as 1,000 Kennel Club members roared their approval as part of ESPN's College Game Day activities.
Gentry was among four Gonzaga players who helped run a drill on how the Bulldogs run a certain play to free up Player of the Year candidate Adam Morrison. Gentry had the task of filling Morrison's shoes and was given the opportunity to hit a shot in front of a national television audience.
"I was a little nervous, but excited to be part of the Game Day event," Gentry stated. "It was great for our program to be a part of ESPN Game Day. That is a big milestone for our program because every weekend you watch on TV as they do the show from another campus. It's something everyone watches."
Not a bad moment for a young man that grew up a die-hard Kansas Jayhawks fan. Most of Gentry's immediate family attended the University of Kansas and Gentry seemed ready to follow their lead after growing up in Fort Scott, Kan. He played basketball at Fort Scott High setting a school record with 1,060 career points as his senior team advanced to the Kansas State 5A Tournament.
While Gentry grew up a blue-blooded Jayhawk, he decided to venture West and follow a rising program in distant Spokane, Wash. Gonzaga was coming off its third straight trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2001 when he enrolled at Gonzaga.
"I knew that Gonzaga was a great Jesuit school with a great basketball program," Gentry added on his decision to come out west. "I wanted to get away from home to experience some different things in life and Gonzaga was a great fit."
Gentry did not play basketball at Gonzaga his freshman year but did become friends with several people on the team and associated with the program. It was from these friendships that he developed the nickname most of the Zag nation knows him by "Shaggy" (after the character in Scooby Doo).
He made the team as a walk-on in 2003 but did not participate in any games. His first collegiate action was against a team from his home state as he played against Emporia State University in the first of two Gonzaga exhibition games that season.
"My most exciting moment at Gonzaga would have to be playing in my first collegiate game against Emporia State," Gentry said. "I scored seven points against them but the biggest thrill for me was just putting on the uniform for the first time."
Putting on the uniform seems to be something of the utmost importance to Gentry as he plays his final season. Despite appearing in only 13 games his first two years, Gentry returned for one more year with Gonzaga although he completed his undergraduate education in May of 2005.
"I came back to pursue a masters' degree at Gonzaga," mentioned Gentry. "I view this as a last hoorah, the last chance I have to play organized basketball. I also think we as a team have some unfinished business and I wanted to be part of that."
Gentry has been a constant inspiration on the bench always cheering for his teammates, something they usually return ten-fold when he gets his few moments in the limelight. This season Gentry has appeared in only three games with no points scored, but after talking with him for a few minutes you immediately realize that the points and games played are not entirely what's important to him. What's most important is being part of the team and that's something you have to admire about this die-hard Kansas fan who has become part of the Gonzaga family.
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