Meet Freshman Dustin Villepigue

After a record-breaking high school career, Dustin Villepigue brings his game from Simi Valley, CA, to Spokane, WA. Gonzaga's newest big man already has Zag fans buzzing with anticipation. (Photo courtesy of prepwesthoops)

What can possibly be said about Dustin Villepigue that hasn't already been said? One of the most talented big men to come to Gonzaga, we take a look at Dustin's life and what kind of guy he is, besides a phenomenal basketball player.

Firstly, Dustin is a southern California guy, through and through. Born in "the valley," it wasn't long before his family moved to the other valley: Simi. While not into surfing, you can find him at the beach quite a bit. In fact, coaches often were told he was not home when they called. Two guesses where he usually was. We were surprised that the Beach Boys weren't his favorite music, but he likes hip-hop instead. He also admits that he loves to play golf.

But to basketball. Dustin first picked up a basketball before he can really remember and started playing organized ball during his sixth-grade year. Friends wanted him to join them since he was usually among the tallest, so he played in leagues for young kids. Like all kids, Dustin was in awe of Michael Jordan and MJ was his favorite player. Now he says since he's a 6'9" big man, he appreciates the play of guys like Chris Weber, even though he is not much of a fan of the NBA. "They're only interested in money."

Villepigue gives credit to his parents for being the most important influences in his life. He says they've always encouraged him and guided him along the right paths.

Simi Valley High School has about 2500 students and is in the largest classification of California high school sports. Regardless, Dustin made varsity as a sophomore and never looked back. He was on his way to breaking a lot of school records. During those three years, he has had many memorable games, including a big playoff game at The Pond. Playing legendary powerhouse Mater Dei was a highlight, not to mention regular season games against top LA schools that saw him score 41, 40 and 38 points while pulling down 20 rebounds. Asked about these games, Villepigue said the thing about his big games were, he was matched up against other guys his size, that he wasn't scoring and rebounding at will against short teams.

Dustin averaged almost 75% from the field as a senior, breaking former UCLA and NBA star Don McLean's record at Simi Valley. That's 75 shots made out of every 100 attempts. We don't know about rebounding stats, but with his Shaq-like numbers, he must rank high. Villepigue ended his high school career with 1301 points, ranking him sixth all time. He was second-team All-California only because second-overall NBA lottery pick 7'1" Tyson Chandler was also a center in California.

Speaking of size, Dustin has been hitting the weights hard and has gone from 210 pounds to a muscular 230 pounds now. His strengths are his skills around the rim, be it scoring or rebounding. During high school play, he was forced to play center, but what really impressed GU coaches was his ability to step out during summer league play and hit treys. He is a very good outside shooter. Asked about areas he needs to work in, and he said his dribbling could be better, and his free-throw shooting needs to improve. Dustin works with young kids and trying to dribble against three or four little guys at once can be tough, he says.

Foot speed is something that Villepigue has plenty of, too, as evidenced by his tennis doubles team advancing to State. Anybody who knows tennis knows foot speed and hand-eye coordination are a must. It's a big plus for any post player in basketball, too. Dustin also admitted that the intimidation factor of a 6'9" guy charging the net had something to do with their tennis success.

His goals at Gonzaga are clear and simple. He wants to help in any way possible to take the Zags all the way to the Final Four. He'd like to start but he's realistic, knowing he'll only be a frosh. But he feels like if he works hard, he has a good chance of being the sixth or seventh man off the bench. As of this writing, Gonzaga only has three other big men in Zach Gourde, Cory Violette and Jay Sherrell. With a dangerous outside shot and a scary prowess in close, it's exciting for Zag fans to think of the dimension that Dustin will bring to the front court.

Having played a few years ago on the same summer traveling team as fellow Zag Cory Violette, Dustin is already aware of the talent level at GU and is glad about rejoining a former team mate. His opinion of the coaching staff couldn't be higher and it was the GU coaches' honesty that played a large part in his college selection process. Villepigue is looking forward to improving greatly under coaches Few, Grier, Rice and Lloyd. Villepigue feels like a part of the Gonzaga family already, having traveled down to San Diego to watch the Zags defeat Santa Clara for the WCC Tournament Championship last season, and then being invited into the celebrative locker room afterwards.

He's excited about school and about basketball. He'll have large amounts of fans at nearby Pepperdine and LMU, and his parents will see him in LA's Great Western Forum against Fresno State, along with trips down to San Diego and up to Santa Clara, San Francisco and St. Mary's.

Dustin is considering majoring in Computer Science but might change to a broader technology field. With a 3.8 GPA, he'll have no problem.

The Villepigue family will all arrive in Spokane on August 31 where Dustin will take part in orientation and get going with school. "I can hardly wait." His mother and father will likely take a couple of days in a car and get to know Spokane and vicinity.

Welcome, Dustin.

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