Sam Dower is entering his final season at Gonzaga and it has been a long road to say the least. As a fifth year senior, Dower has been waiting his turn to finally be the starter.
Last season seemed to be the season for him to step in and be the man. Unfortunately for him, Kelly Olynyk emerged out of nowhere and is now playing in the NBA. But finally after all these years, Dower finally is in position to be the man for the Zags.
Dower came out of the 2009 recruiting class as a three star prospect from Minnesota. He had offers from several quality schools such as Marquette, Minnesota, and Cal but decided to go with the Zags. Overlooked as a recruit, he used a redshirt season to improve his skills and to solidify himself as a key reserve for the Bulldogs.
Coming into his redshirt freshman season, Dower was one of the key bench players behind starting center Robert Sacre. He shot 57.5 percent from the field and averaged a respectable 7.6 points per game in only 14.1 minutes per game. In Dower’s sophomore season he saw more of the same. Only averaging 18.1 minutes per game, he still shot close to 54 percent from the field and scored 8.3 points per game.
His junior season came around and as I alluded to earlier, he was supposed to be the starting center and finally get his shot. With Kelly Olynyk becoming the starter and Przemek Karnowski battling for minutes, Dower saw his time on the court shortened. He averaged only 6.9 points in 16 minutes per game but still managed to be a solid bench contributor.
If you have been following the Zags for the past few seasons, you probably have seen spurts of Dower. It seemed to me that when the team was struggling or when they needed a spark of offense, Dower for the most part was there to pick up the slack. Take the Butler game from last year. I know it still is a touchy subject but in that game Dower was the leading scorer with 20 points along with Elias Harris.
Dower is a natural scorer; someone who comes in on most nights and instantly can put the ball in the basket. He isn’t as strong on the defensive end, but finds a way to get it done on the offensive end. After losing the top two scorers from last season’s team, Dower will be called upon to pick up the slack, to finally capitalize on his chance.
Again Dower will have to fight for his starting position with Karnowski, but finally it appears it’s his spot. Dower won’t put up the points that Olynyk did a year ago, or be as much of a presence as Sacre was two years ago, but he can score. He can step up and hold down the fort in the middle. Dower is a little undersized at 6-foot-9 and different from the 7 footers the Zags have become accustomed to, but having a big men who can score in a variety of ways is always a plus.
Dower has waited his turn. If he can score 7 or 8 points per game in limited action, I would expect that number to double in full time action. He will be able to start and get going from the beginning and hopefully make up for the lost scorers. Dower may not be the NBA prospect that Gonzaga’s past two centers were, but he is still a solid option and should at last, his final season have his breakout year.