Decades ago a young woman named Clotilde Cespedes grew up in the South American country of Peru and traveled to Montreal where she'd make her home. Meanwhile, Jean-Pierre Altidor grew up in Haiti and earned a scholarship to a college in nearby Costa Rica. He, too, would immigrate to Canada's French Province and the city of Montreal. There, the two met.
And so began what would eventually lead to one of Gonzaga University basketball's biggest commitments: the son of Jean-Pierre and Clotilde.
Zags Hoops caught up with their son, Pierre-Marie, soon after he verbally committed to Gonzaga.
ZH: Tell us how you ultimately ended up being a future Gonzaga Bulldog, from the very first time you saw the Zags play to when Coach Few first let you know he liked you.
P-M: The first time I saw the Gonzaga Bulldogs play was in the 1999 NCAA Tournament. I remember them reaching the Elite Eight, despite being referred to as a "Cinderella" team. Afterwards, Gonzaga continued their elite play and kept getting better as a program. I always enjoyed watching the Zags play in the tournament each year because of their uptempo style of play, as
well as the tremendous passion and unselfishness the players demonstrated. I started to have a serious interest in Gonzaga in the 2002 season, because I saw how much they accomplished in just a few years and I felt their style of play was a perfect fit for me. After the ABCD Camp this summer, when Coach Few came to Montreal to see me workout, I was very happy and appreciative of
the opportunity to maybe become a Bulldog.
ZH: Describe your recruitment. Is it true some colleges wanted you to go there this year but you decided to wait another year? What colleges wanted you, besides Gonzaga?
P-M: My recruitment was good, especially when I consider being a combo guard out of Canada. I was offered by some schools early in this season, but as the season went along and I kept getting better, my options started to be really
interesting. During this season I was involved with many programs, but after the ABCD Camp in July, I narrowed my list to Gonzaga, Xavier and Georgia. Some schools wanted me to come out this year, but I didn't feel the need to do so.
ZH: Where were you born and raised, and when did you first start playing basketball and knew that basketball was the sport for you?
P-M: I was born in Montreal, and moved to the suburb of Brossard when I was four. Brossard is a few minutes from Montreal. When I first moved to Brossard, my parents wanted me to pick a sport and I chose basketball. I loved the game so I played it everyday. Because nobody I knew was interested in playing basketball with me I mostly played by myself in a park near my house. I was consumed by basketball so much, I always believed it was the right sport for me.
ZH: Describe basketball in Montreal, Quebec, with basketball in high schools in the United States. Is there much of a difference, in your
P-M: Basketball in Montreal is a sport. Basketball in the United States is a way
of life. I think that's the major difference, in terms of talent and potential, I know high school basketball in the United States and in Canada
is very similar. But what separates the two is really the approach on the game, people from the United States take this game much more seriously.
ZH: Describe your game for us, your favorite offensive play, your favorite defensive play, your strengths on the court and areas you feel
you need to improve on the most.
P-M: I don't really have a favorite offensive or defensive play, I enjoy playing this game on both ends. I feel good when I'm out there playing, whether it's when i'm shooting, passing, dribbling or playing defense, I just love to be on the play. I think my strength on the court is my ability to to be a threat from many places on the basketball court. I feel i have to improve
every aspect of my game, but the one aspect in particular is my in between game.
ZH: Who have been your biggest influences on the basketball court and off the court in life, and why?
P-M: Growing up, my biggest influence on the basketball court was Micheal Jordan, until I realized I wasn't going to be a 6'6" athlete. Since that was in the mid-90's I started studying point guards like, Tim Hardaway, Terrel Brandon, Damon Stoudamire, Jason Kidd and Stephon Marbury. Because I ordered tapes from the United States I also got to watch Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas. Off the court, my biggest influence is mostly my father, ever since I was a child I looked up to him, because he has always been analytical about things and his work ethic is unmatched.
ZH: Tell us about your visit to Gonzaga University, what all you liked and what factors prompted you to know it was a perfect fit for
P-M: Before visiting Gonzaga University, I didn't imagine the city and university campus because I haven't been in the west coast before. When I got to airport and drove to the campus, I was very pleased with the look of the city, it looked clean, it wasn't overpopulated, it was calm, the calmness reminded me a lot of the city I come from. When I arrived at the campus I loved the fact that everything is close, the gym, library, dorms and classes are less than 5 minutes apart, walking distance. Visiting the
school was fun, I come from a Jesuit high school in Montreal so I am, to some degree, familiar with the importance of academics and personal growth emphasized at Gonzaga. Meeting the president of the university was an honor for me, he made feel even more comfortable and I really respect the things he has done to help the Gonzaga University. I also wanted to discover and
get a feel for the people at Gonzaga. The players from the team where people i see myself playing basketball with as well as people I could feel
comfortable around. When I met the team and played with the players and got to spend time outside the basketball court, I was very happy, because I felt they had good character and values, they are the people I like being
around and playing with. The coaching staff at the university is one of the biggest reasons for my commitment, coach Few, Grier, Rice and Lloyd are great at teaching the game, I also felt very comfortable around them, because they are good people and the are passionate about the game. Basketball is the main sport in the city, the facilities are great, the new arena is going to add to that. Everything felt and feels so right and valuable I didn't and don't want to visit any other school.
ZH: There have been a few nicknames for you from fans, like "P-Jet," "P-MAC," "Pierre," "P-M," "PMC" and "Sweet P." Do you have a
preference, or is Pierre-Marie just fine?
P-M: I have never had a real nickname that most people used, all those nicknames are fun but they don't mean much to me, I rather people call me Pierre or Pierre-Marie.
ZH: Other than hoops, what are your hobbies, favorite music and other activities?
P-M: Other than hoops, I really enjoy watching and analysing films, it's something I truly enjoy. I also like to listen to all kinds of music: funk, pop, alternative, rap, classical, salsa ... But I mostly listen to hip-hop. I like to read, I like to go for walks. I think these are my major time-consuming occupations.
ZH: Tell us about your family, your two siblings, your grandparents, etc. And welcome to the Gonzaga family!
P-M: My family is the greatest gift I have, I can never emphasize enough how much they are the reason I am who I am. My parents are wonderful, my grandparents are fantastic, I feel very fortunate with my family situation. My sister
Suze-Andrée and my brother Ramon are wonderful as well. I feel very fortunate to be part of the Gonzaga family, it's an honor. I can't wait to
be in Spokane and help the program at the very best of my abilities.