Southridge grad walks-on from manager to player at Gonzaga


He was awarded a ring for participating in the Final Four last season with the Gonzaga Bulldogs but now a Southridge High School grad really feels like part of the team because now, he really is on the team.

Brian Pete has been on the bench of a Top 25 team for the past four seasons but he never had his number called to check-in for Gonzaga. Fact was, Brian didn't have a jersey to wear until just over a month ago.

A team manager turned Division I hooper, it's a rare transition in college basketball but Brian has soared from the club team to the real thing.

"Been a manager since first day on campus. Came here knowing I was going to do that," said Brian. "Coming here was a by-product of not knowing where else to go, rolling the dice."

Brian's four-year journey at Gonzaga has come up aces in his senior year.

"We were in the locker room after, I was eating a piece of pizza, and (Assistant Coach) Tommy (Lloyd) came up, half chewing a piece of pepperoni pizza and was like, 'Do you want to walk on the rest of the year? Do you want to suit up?' and I was like, 'Is this a joke?'" he said.

"As soon as they said, we want you to be a walk-on, Brian said his ears went number, he forgot his name, forgot where he was, forgot where he lived. He forgot what planet he was on. He could see them talking but could hear nothing else," said Brian's mom, Ann Pete.

From washing jerseys to wearing one.

"I'm so used to handling the jerseys as a manager. Washing them, hanging them, getting the wrinkles out," said Brian. "I kept looking at my last name like that can't be right, number 20. Definitely kind of sank in once those came in."

A team manager for his entire college career, number 20 felt like a fish out of water in his first game as a player.

"I was grabbing for chairs and waters. I didn't know what to do with my hands," Brian said. "It's a better view down there, a couple spots makes a difference."

Then last Thursday, his first collegiate points registered in a blowout of the Portland Pilots.

"They were 40 points ahead and those guys went nuts like it was double overtime, they were down by two and he made a three," said Ann.

Brian's mom, Ann is back home helping flip the bill for school but not cable.

"I do not have TV! I can't afford any of it," said Ann. "So I just sit in my house and watch the score on the phone."

Even though mom missed the big moment live, she has many friends who chimed in.

"Then all of a sudden I get ding on my phone and I think, 'Oh, Brian got in.' All of a sudden my phone blew up. Ding, ding, ding! Then I started getting people texting me videos from the TV," said Ann.

And of course, she wants her son to get a few more good plays.

"He's a good player if he gets the ball," said Ann. "That one guy tripped him so he didn't get the ball. Anyway, I'm a mom."

"I think she thinks I should be starting. She's hilarious," said Brian.

Like senior year when he finally made the varsity squad with the Skyhawks, Brian's father isn't around to see his kids latest basketball dream come true. Kevin Pete passed away from a heart attack at the age of 49 when Brian was only 12.

"Brian overcame a lot of obstacles in life. He didn't have a brother or sister to share that stuff with," Ann said.

"He used to always tell me, thoughts are things. Play the game and have fun but don't set limits. Don't try to say this is the most I'll ever do or can do, keep playing. Domino effect, I guess," said Brian.

That domino effect has taken Brian out of the laundry room and made him one of the Zags in the locker room.

"I have abandoned my laundry day since walking on, I kind of sold out there," he said.

Brian is scheduled to graduate with honors in business finance.

The Zags and Brian visit University of Portland next Thursday night in another West Coast Conference matchup at the Chiles Center.

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