Zag Grads Barnstorm Young Zags

In a 128-102 game, there was much to cheer about and even more oohs and aahs as the stars came out and put on a show in front of a packed SFCC gym. Zag newcomers Josh Heytvelt, Pierre-Marie Cespedes and David Pendergraft combined for 49 points, but Blake Stepp, Luke Jackson and Co. proved too much. But who cares? It was all for fun and benefited Coaches v Cancer.

The Barnstormin' Tour was all it was made out to be on Saturday, showcasing some of the best local talent from both the collegiate and high school levels. The crowd got its money's worth as the SFCC gym was filled with numerous ‘ooohhs' and ‘ahhhhhhs', the results of Harlem-Globetrotter style play and a high scoring tempo that ended in a victory for the "College All-Stars", 128-97. Put together by Blake Stepp, the College All-Stars were comprised of former Zags, Whitworth's all-time leading scorer, and former Duck, Luke Jackson. The High School All-Stars featured several all-state selections and three soon-to-be Gonzaga Bulldogs in David Pendergraft, Josh Heytvelt, and Pierre-Marie Altidor-Cespedes.

The game started in the circus-like manner it ended with. Jackson, who proved throughout the evening why he'll be an NBA first-round pick, clanked his first tomahawk attempt off the iron, but later made up for his blooper by several highlight-reel-worthy slams. All former college players had "on" nights and pleased the crowd with plenty of eye-popping play making.

For seeming to be boys among men, the High School All-Stars held their own and produced plenty of their own highlights to wow the crowd. The guard tandem of Altidor-Cespedes and Jeremy Mangum of Yakima put on a show. Mangum, who will play for CCS next season, was impressive. He showcased great court-vision which enabled him to find the open man and his cat-quickness enabled him to blast by defenders and dish down low. CCS should find him to be an exciting point guard for the next two seasons. Now some quick thoughts on the Zags' incoming freshmen:

Pierre-Marie Altidor-Cespedes: The 6'2" guard will be able to play either point or shooting guard during his days at Gonzaga. P-Mac, as he is affectionately called, possesses a sweet stroke from the three, in one instance hitting two in a row. Pierre is an athletic guard, enabling him to push the ball up the court fast, defend quick guards, and sky for dunks. Pierre was effective in running the point against Stepp, showcasing good handles and court vision. Pierre also did a little fancy work with some clever, flashy passing, and demonstrated a willingness for Zag-type hustle plays. P-Mac was impressive all-around and drew the loudest cheer for a spectacular jam to finish a fast break.

Josh Heytvelt: Josh has great athleticism for a man of his size. (He will turn 18 in late June.) He skied for rebounds and got up and down the court quickly. One play that made the crowd go crazy was a lob from Mangum to Josh for a two-handed slam over Cory Violette. Heytvelt showed a soft touch out to the three point line into the key. Josh also made some great passes and could very well play a role similar to Sean Mallon, stepping outside for the occasional trey. His only problem could be facing larger, stronger players similar to Violette. Josh's athleticism, ball skills, and shooting touch equal great potential. His vertical, as well as his wingspan, is a weapon on defense and he broke up more than a few alley-oops that were meant for Cory.

David Pendergraft: David struggled early-on in the contest, understandable taking the titanic leap from Brewster to Barnstomin', but soon found his rhythm and showed why he was named two-time 1A Player of the Year. His weightlifting while recovering from injury enabled him to body Luke Jackson on the box and battle for boards. Pendergraft is relentless on the offensive glass, always seeming to get a hand on a rebound or skying for a tip-in. Scrappy and a hard worker, David isn't flashy, but gets the job done. Think Mark Spink, less 2 inches, plus 25 pounds, with a 3-ball shot. It's easy to see a lot of floor burns in this hustler's future. David has nice shooting form and will be a versatile scorer. If it sounds like "Pendo" had an off-night, well, he did, at least from long range... Except when you consider the fact that he racked up a healthy double-double with 21 and 11!

The future looks bright judging from the performances of the three newcomers. And no one seemed happier than Ronny Turiaf who drew an ovation from the appreciative crowd just by arriving at the gymnasium. It was obvious the Gonzaga faithful appreciated the big man's decision to stay in school…and the smile on Ronny's face told the fans that he will have a lot of fun his senior season (and so will we!).

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