Mar 8, 2011, 11:50 AM EST
You’d think John Stockton’s son would be a natural point guard, and you’d be right. It just took a bit for him and Gonzaga to click.
It happened just in time, too.
Thanks to a big assist during the WCC tournament — from the offspring of the NBA’s all-time assists leader — the Zags are headed to the NCAA tournament for the 13th consecutive year.
“That’s why I wanted to come here,” Stockton told Ryan Greene of The Dagger. “I’ve dreamed about the NCAA tournament and watched the teams that went to the NCAA tournament and that’s what I wanted to be. Now that we have a chance to, I want to take full advantage of it.”
The freshman guard’s numbers in Gonzaga’s 75-63 win over St. Mary’s won’t blow you away (seven points, three assists and no turnovers), but he provided a spark every time he was in the game and was clearly the best distributor on the floor. At just 5-10 and 152 pounds, he’s smaller than his dad, but has the same knack for big plays.
His 3-pointer with 6:37 remaining capped an 8-0 Gonzaga run that effectively put away the Gaels.
“Stock’s was huge,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said afterward. “He’s got great instincts, a great feel for the game. Early on, he was a little bit of a defensive liability, but lately he’s been making all kinds of plays on defense. He’s always never feared the moment. That’s a great quality to have. He stepped up tonight and made a big 3.”
And it’s not like St. Mary’s overlooked Stockton. He had seven points and three assists in the Zags’ season finale win over the Gaels. When he’s in the game, he’s making a difference.
“When he comes in the game, the tempo of the game goes up,” St. Mary’s coach Randy Bennett said. “He’s a good passer. We didn’t do a very good job of guarding him tonight. Actually, that hurt us a lot. We didn’t guard him well and they got transition when he went in. We had it marked (on the scouting report), we just didn’t get it done.”
As you might expect, Stockton—who’s gone from former walk-on at his dad’s alma mater to key player — hears catcalls from fans because of his dad, but he’s heard them long enough that he now either tunes them out or keeps tabs on the best ones.
“I hear it from every crowd and every person, but I just can’t worry about it. I’ve been hearing that stuff my whole life, so I just try to embrace it rather than fight it,” he told Greene.
“The best sign was at Washington State. It said ‘Stockton’s Money = Stockton’s Minutes.’ That was my favorite one.”
As for dad, he tries to play the silent supporting role. John was in the Gonzaga locker room afterward, but didn’t comment on his son’s performance, mostly to keep David in the spotlight.
Classy move. Credit dad with an assist as well.
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.
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