If Kelly Olynyk hadn't hit the big time before Tuesday, he's there now.
Olynyk, a junior forward for the Gonzaga Bulldogs, is on the cover of this week's Sports
Illustrated magazine, which hits newsstands Friday. To an athlete, a spot on the front page of Sports Illustrated is like a musician appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone.
"That's kind of neat," said Ken Olynyk, Kelly's father. "It's a special thing for (Kelly) and for Kamloops."
Kelly Olynyk, a 2009 South Kamloops secondary grad, is one of four players on regional covers ahead of the NCAA men's basketball tournament - his cover will be sold in the Western U.S. and B.C. The Bulldogs open Thursday against the Southern University Jaguars in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Olynyk has been no secret to the people of Kamloops since he and his family moved to Kamloops from Toronto in 2003, as he starred for the Titans and led them to a provincial AAA bronze medal in 2009.
But the rest of the world has been learning about the seven-footer gradually over the past few months - he has been fantastic in leading the Bulldogs to their first No. 1 ranking and their first No. 1 seed at an NCAA tournament.
He is a nominee for the John Wooden
Award and Oscar Robertson Trophy for the outstanding player in collegiate basketball, was the player of the year in the West Coast Conference and was named a first-team All-American.
In Friday's Sports Illustrated, he is named an SI All-American as well.
All this from a kid from Kamloops.
"I talk to him most days - his mother
(Arlene) or I talk to him and make sure he stays grounded," said, Ken, the athletics and recreation director at TRU. "He understands that it's all about the team. Without the team, none of this happens."
No one does hype better than Americans, and what is happening with Kelly Olynyk, who has made a name partly due to his long hair, is pretty incredible.
But the hype surrounding Olynyk has less to do with his look and everything to do with his play. He is averaging 17.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game for one of the best NCAA teams in the U.S. He also is turning the heads of NBA scouts, who may look to take him with a lottery pick (top 14) in June's draft. Olynyk would have to declare himself eligible for the draft by April 28.
Kelly's proud parents are looking at making the trip to Salt Lake City.
"We'll see where they go from there," Ken said, "but it should be interesting to see. If they make it to (the Final Four in) Atlanta, we'd definitely go."