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zag buddy
08-27-2008, 06:30 PM
August 27, 2008 by Brandon Hansen

Former GU guard Matt Santangelo was in the backcourt for the 1998-99 Elite Eight run, an appearance which spurned the national craze that is Gonzaga basketball. (Courtesy of Gonzaga Athletics)
Coming back for his third-year in the All-American Charity Classic would be a welcomed homecoming for former Gonzaga Bulldog Matt Santangelo – except for the fact that he already lives in Spokane.

After a seven-year career in Europe as a professional, the guy who was the heart and soul of Gonzaga’s magical 1999 Elite Eight run came back to settle down in the Lilac City, working for a local financial company.


“Coming back to Spokane, it’s incredible the amount of players that choose it as their home,” said Santangelo.

The family that is Spokane, the family that is the Gonzaga community has embraced Zags, former and current, to provide one of the best college basketball atmospheres in the country. And that’s outside of the arena as well as inside.

And it wasn’t until the point guard came back to Spokane that he realized just how much the ‘99 Zags meant to the community and how much that season still resonates today.

“It’s flattering, it’s extremely flattering,” said Santangelo. “Not very many days go by where I’m not involved in some conversation about basketball.”

That season began Gonzaga’s string of 10-straight NCAA Tournament appearances and vaulted them to the national spotlight.

“It was a storybook type of deal, we didn’t set out to accomplish what we accomplished,” said Santangelo, who had several schools to choose from when coming out of high school, including Oregon and Stanford.

He was the AAU Oregon State Player of the Year, an honorable mention for All-American, state champion, all-state player, all-west coast player and twice named the conference player of the year. His choice though, was Gonzaga, and the rest was history – seriously, how can you forget him?

“From there it seemed to me that GU was the best opportunity for me, not only to play, but to compete for championships,” said Santangelo in a interview with Scout.com.

He would make it to two Sweet Sixteens as a Zag and get an opportunity after graduation to play in Europe.
Santangelo got to play in four countries, including Spain, which is widely considered to have the best professional league outside of the NBA.

“All of it was an adventure,” he said.

Now the point guard is back in Spokane, and will be playing in a building that he never got to suit up in as a Zag.

“Dan [Dickau] asked me to be a part of it the first year,” said Santangelo. “It’s kind of a no-brainer to go back in the McCarthy Center.”

The Northern Quest Casino Spokane All-American’s Charity Classic will tipoff on Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. For more information visit www.dandickaubasketball.com.

Story by Brandon Hansen. You can reach him at brandon@htsports.org.

siliconzag
08-29-2008, 05:51 AM
I had the pleasure of meeting him over this past weekend and all I can say is that he is one of the most affable and intelligent young men I've ever had the pleasure. What a great conversationalist, very engaging, very humble despite his enormous achievements. He will go far in whatever he does. He is a true role model for young athletes who occasionally need to be reminded that basketball is what you do from age 10 to 35, and there is a lot of living after that, so you better be prepared for the second act. What a terrific guy, Matt is! Sili

MDABE80
08-29-2008, 09:58 AM
Sili /.....you were in town???? and didn't find Abe????? What!!!!