NCAA tournament: David Stockton returns to the arena where his father was an NBA legend
Ravell Call, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — There is probably not another player in the NCAA tournament that will pass his father's statue on his way to the arena, look up to the rafters from the court and see his dad's jersey hanging there, and then reflect back to all the time he spent at that arena as a young rug rat. But that will be David Stockton's reality today when his No. 1-seeded Bulldogs take on the No. 16-seeded Southern Jaguars at 2:10 p.m. at EnergySolutions Arena
"So many memories, you know," said Stockton. "Even this (locker) room, running around, running amok, causing trouble — me and my brothers. This building, we spent a lot of time in."
David is the son of NBA Hall of Famer and Gonzaga alum John Stockton. He lived in Salt Lake City through sixth grade, where he attended St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School. He would also tag along with his dad often to the then Delta Center. He remembers causing plenty of mischief, but one particular incident stood out for the now redshirt junior guard.
"We were Rollerblading here down a little spiral thing and I ran into a Coke machine and broke my collarbone," he said. "They had to get my dad out of practice. He was probably the most mad at me for that."
David said that as one could imagine, John was more upset he was missing practice time on the court than any actual consequences of the accident.
One would think it has to be tough to play under the type of scrutiny that comes with being the son of an NBA legend. And to return to the place where the legend performed his mastery of the game for nearly 20 years only adds to it. But David said that is not something he has really thought about.
"It is the same thing at GU. They have his name up there and his picture hanging up everywhere. It is about the same thing," he said. "I have always wanted to play here, but I don't think there is any pressure.
"I think it just being an NCAA game is good enough for me, but if you look around and you see the name up there, and the fans that used to watch my dad, it's kind of cool."
One thing that may give David a sense of comfort is that he should feel at ease shooting there. He said he knows he shot "thousands, yeah, thousands" of shots there growing up.
Despite the pedigree, Stockton was not heavily recruited coming out of high school and decided to walk on at Gonzaga. He still wasn't sure what kind of college basketball career he would have, but he wanted to at least give it a shot.
"Not at all," he said when asked if he thought things would turn out the way they have at Gonzaga. "I wanted to, and I was going to work hard to do so, but not at all.
"Midway through my redshirt year, I was practicing and I felt like I could really do some things. I was like, 'Hey, maybe I can play here.' I just set my sights for that, and it ended up happening."
David averages 3.6 points, 3.3 assists and 1.6 steals per game in just over 18 minutes as a guard coming off the bench. But his teammates and coach say they see qualities and traits in his game that his father displayed as one of the greatest point guards of all time.
"You can kind of see (John) kind of come out in David sometimes in the passes he makes or the reads he makes," said teammate and West Coast Conference Player of the Year Kelly Olynyk. "It's unbelievable. I think it's great for David to be back here and to kind of continue the legacy."
"David's unbelievable. He's fearless like John," said Gonzaga coach Mark Few. "He has an incredible innate feel for the game. He can make passes in the smallest of windows that there's nobody on our team capable of doing, and there are very few people in college basketball that can make those plays. He's got a great knack, just like John did, off the ball on defense for making plays."
Stockton may have a legacy to live up to, but the Zags also have some pressure on them as a No. 1 seed from a non-BCS conference. But both just seem to be enjoying the whole experience and are focused on the task at hand.
"Its been a fun ride, and we want to keep it going and take it all the way," said David.
Michael Black is a writer, editor and page designer at the Deseret News in Salt Lake City. He has been involved in the publication of the paper for the last nine years with an emphasis in sports
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