When I first saw Cory Violette take the floor in The Kennel, one word popped into my mind: "linebacker." Now Cory has almost grown another inch since last year, legitimately pushing 6'9" and a leaner, quicker 250 pounds. "I have a different body type now." According to Cory, team mate Jay Sherrell is "jumping out of the gym, hitting his jump shot" and is vastly improved. Cory says he has played at a camp with incoming freshman Dustin Villepigue and describes him as smart and big-time. Cory was at GU when Ronny Turiaf visited and he thinks this French kid will be "something else." Turiaf is a great leaper with a long body, good ball skills and a good shooter, according to Violette. "He just jumps over people. His hands are huge." And Cory had too many good things to say about Zach Gourde to be covered in this article. In a nutshell, he's super high on how strong and physical the 2001-2002 Zag front court will be.
Cory was born in Portland, Maine. A few years later his family moved down to Rhode Island for a while before heading west to Boise at age ten. His Dad works for the Boise-based semiconductor giant Micron.
Violette was playing basketball ("playing around") at an early age, 5 or 6. His first AAU team was when he was twelve. One would think a guy like Cory would be big into football. While playing for a few years early in the four-year Boise high school Bishop Kelly (almost 900 enrollment), he actually played more soccer than anything, outside hoops. "But then I got too big to play." Cory grew 6 inches in two years, between ninth-grade and eleventh-grade, from 6'2" to 6'8". By his sophomore year, he decided to focus solely on basketball, making varsity. Perhaps Bishop Kelly winning the Idaho State Championship his sophomore year had something to do with it. But maybe he was just plain good. He transferred from the Boise public school system to the private school Bishop Kelly.
Good enough for every WCC school to be interested, plus Washington and Washington State. His hometown college Boise State desperately wanted him. Violette had been receiving a fair amount of interest, then came a big, prestigious tournament in Los Angeles. Cory blew up in front of a lot of coaches and was named to "The Best of the Best" and suddenly he became a hot commodity. The one school that he wanted to hear from most called. Gonzaga. Not only had Cory been following the Zags' deep runs into the NCAA Tournament, but when he visited and watched pick up games he noticed an urgency and intensity that was missing from other programs. "It was like they were playing with a purpose, like they were going somewhere. At the other schools, they just shot baskets and played around."
The coaching staff didn't sugar-coat anything while recruiting Violette, and that was a refreshing difference for him.
Asked about his biggest game in high school, Cory laughed and replied that, after playing for the GU, everything in high school pales.
His most thrilling moments as a Zag were the two wins over Pepperdine, the WCC Tournament win over Santa Clara and the big win over Virginia in the Big Dance. He believes this year's front court, with all of the off-season lifting and conditioning, can take on a Michigan State now. Asked about MSU's muscle inside last season and Cory said it was their strength that enabled them to box out better and get the loose balls for second and third shots. It was intimidating at first to be mixing it up with the Spartan's bigs, but he has gained enough confidence from it that he's ready for it now. He knows what it takes to be at that next level. "I'm getting there."
But the first thing Cory said when asked about what he likes most about playing at Gonzaga was how great a feeling it is to take the court and have a jam-packed house waiting for them and cheering wildly, as opposed to quarter-filled larger arenas.
Perhaps the most surprising thing is that Cory half-wishes he could have redshirted last year so he could have gotten an extra year of strength under his belt. That's rare and unselfish.
Cory Violette is, without a doubt, a true Zag.
During the off-season, the three areas he has been working hardest on were his post moves, lifting weights and particularly working on his outside shooting to the three-point arc, an added dimension that would make him all the more dangerous.
Cory sports a 3.5 GPA and was aiming at a degree in Electrical Engineering, but that might change. When not playing hoops or lifting, you can find him on the golf courses, practicing on his new guitar, listening to all types of music and generally just doing what 19-year-olds do.
Violette thinks GU will be "just as good" as last year, maybe better. He's well aware of the void left by Casey Calvary and Mark Spink, but he feels Dan Dickau, Alex Hernandez and Anthony Reason ("tough-minded guys") are natural leaders and will take over that role, and he thinks the young big men will step it up.
Cory has a good understanding of the game of basketball and, more importantly, a great understanding of Gonzaga basketball.