Some of Gonzaga’s Notable International Players from Past

March 17, 2017
SPOKANE, Wash. — Following are some of the most notable Gonzaga international players from the past:

Jean Claude Lefebvre, France (1957-1959): The 7-foot-3 Lefebvre, nicknamed the “Eiffel Rifle,” is sometimes cited as college basketball’s first European import. He still holds the school record for most field goals in a game (20). The Minneapolis Lakers made Lefebvre the first Gonzaga player chosen in the NBA draft, but he did not play professional basketball in the U.S. View story

John Rillie, Australia (1993-1995): Sweet-shooting guard led the Zags to their first WCC Tournament title, and first NCAA Tournament appearance, in 1995. Rillie averaged 32 points per game during an MVP run in the WCC tourney, hitting 20 of 28 3-point shots and 22 of 24 free throws in comeback wins over San Diego, Saint Mary’s and Portland.

Paul Rodgers, Australia
(1995-1997): The 7-foot center earned all-conference and NABC all-district honors at Gonzaga. He was selected in the second round of the 1997 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Lakers, but did not play in the NBA. Instead, Rodgers returned to his homeland and starred in Australia’s National Basketball League, earning MVP honors, and also played professionally in Europe.

Gonzaga alum and former NBA player Ronny Turiaf watches as the Zags take on Eastern Oregon in the second half of play. Gonzaga would go on to beat Eastern Oregon 90-58 at the McCarthey

Ronny Turiaf, Martinique via France (2002-2005): A three-time all-WCC player and the conference’s player of the year in 2005, Turiaf finished his GU career fourth on the school’s all-time scoring (1,723 points) and rebounding (859) lists and first for free throws made (643) in a career. He was a two-time honorable mention All-American. Turiaf was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2005 NBA draft and went on to a 10-year NBA career.

Pierre Marie Altidor-Cespedes, Montreal, Quebec, Canada (2005-2007): A solid player, “P-MAC” is perhaps best remembered for a perfect 3-for-3 shooting night from behind the arc as a sophomore – including a three-pointer from deep in the corner with 1.1 seconds to play that gave Gonzaga a 75-72 victory over San Francisco, capping a 14-0 West Coast Conference regular season.

J.P. Batista, Brazil (2005-2006): The junior college transfer won all-conference honors twice at Gonzaga and was an honorable mention All-American. As a senior, playing alongside national player of the year Adam Morrison, Batista averaged 19 points and 9 rebounds a game, shooting a remarkable 59 percent from the field and 83 percent from the free throw line.

Kevin Pangos, Canada
(2012-2015): In just his second game at Gonzaga, Pangos scored 33 points and tied a school record with nine 3-pointers in a win over WSU. By the time his GU career was over, Pangos owned the school record for 3-pointers (313). He was a four-time all-conference selection and was the WCC player of the year in 2015. Pangos also earned NABC all-district honors twice and was a third-team All-American as a senior.

Kevin Pangos claps in celebration of teammate Kyle Wiltjer's three pointer in the previous possession against the Memphis Tigers at the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, WA,

Gonzaga centers (from left) freshman Sam Dower, sophomore Kelly Olynk and junior Robert Sacre loosen up at the shoot-around Thursday evening at the Pepsi Center, site of the Zags game Thursday vs. St. John's at 6:45 p.m. (Pacific Time). Photo by Peter Tormey.
(from left) Kelly Olynk and Robert Sacre. (GU photo).

Robert Sacre, Canada (2008-2012): The 7-foot Sacre was a two-time all-conference pick at Gonzaga and was the WCC defensive player of the year in 2012. He was also an NABC all-district second team choice in 2011. Sacre has been part of the Canadian national team since 2010. After his senior season at GU, he was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers and played four seasons in the NBA.

Kelly Olynyk, Canada (2010-2013): The 7-foot Olynyk rose to national prominence as a redshirt junior at Gonzaga, averaging 17.8 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game. He was named WCC player of the year and earned first team All-American and Academic All-American honors while leading the Zags to a No. 1 national ranking and a 32-3 overall record. He was the 13th overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft and was named to the NBA’s all-rookie second team.

Elias Harris, Germany (2010-2013): In just his second game at Gonzaga, Harris scored a team-high 17 points and grabbed a team-high 9 rebounds against No. 2-ranked Michigan State. He would go on to be named to the all-conference team and be chosen WCC newcomer of the year during his freshman season. Harris won all-conference honors all four years at GU and was twice an NABC all-district choice.

Domantas Sabonis, Lithuania (2014-16): Following an all-conference performance during the regular season as a sophomore, Sabonis exploded onto the national scene during the NCAA Tournament. He averaged 19.6 points and 14.3 rebounds while dominating opponents defensively. He was the 11th choice in the 2016 NBA draft and has been a starter for the Oklahoma City Thunder during his rookie season.