Quin Snyder hasn’t played in his hometown of Seattle in a while, and he hasn’t coached there either, but that doesn’t mean he has forgotten about it.
Snyder has created a link between Missouri and the basketball of the Pacific Northwest. Snyder and the No. 3 Tigers will strengthen the connection when they play No. 17 Gonzaga at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Seattle.
“It’s a natural fit in the Northwest with me being from Seattle,” Snyder said.
Snyder grew up in Mercer Island, a Seattle suburb, and had a successful high school career. He was the first Washington player named a McDonald’s High School All-American.
When Snyder became the coach of the Tigers in 1999, he said he wanted to consistently recruit in the region and take advantage of his knowledge of the area.
“Anytime you know an area or grow up there, you know the schools that the players go to,” Snyder said. “You know the people that are playing. You know the coaches. That familiarity makes your job easier at the beginning. I think ultimately, the fit has to be right. If that (familiarity) can get you in the door, that’s a good thing.”
His first efforts
Although his initial efforts did not yield any recruits, Snyder said he did not worry because he was building relationships with area high schools. Missouri reaped its first benefit from those relationships when freshman Thomas Gardner signed with the Tigers.
Although the Pacific Northwest often does not receive as much media coverage as other parts of the country, Gardner said there is a strong basketball environment.
“It’s very underrated,” Gardner said. “We don’t get as much of a look or hype as the East coast or the South, but I think that’s kind of good for us. It’s kind of a diamond in the rough.
“That’s something that helped me. People didn’t really know about me. That motivated me.”
Gardner hails from Portland, Ore., which is less than three hours away from Seattle. Gardner had an excellent high school career, and he averaged 24.6 points as a senior at Jefferson High.
If his college career goes well, Gardner can be included with a group of successful players that also call the Pacific Northwest home. The list includes NBA players Luke Ridnour, Jason Terry, Curtis Borchardt and Gary Payton, a future Hall of Famer.
Missouri guard Brian Dailey, a Samammish, Wash., native, said he follows players who come from the region.
“Around my area, I’d say (the basketball culture is) die-hard,” Dailey said. “We play all the time.
“To me, the Northwest is a huge (source of players). I think if you look at the NBA, a lot of the points guards have come from the Northwest, come from the Pac-10, West Coast.”
Dailey said he recognized this trend because he once was a point guard. So was Snyder.
Snyder's college career
Snyder moved to Duke after his high school career, where he played for four years, including two as a starter.
In college, Snyder had a 1-1 record in games in Seattle. He made his first return to the region when he played at Washington on Jan. 3, 1989. The senior co-captain helped the Blue Devils to an 87-61 win.
Later that season, the Blue Devils returned to Seattle for the Final Four but lost to Seton Hall in the National Semifinal 95-78. Snyder had eight points on 3-of-10 shooting.
Snyder focused on present
Snyder’s coaching career also has been intertwined with the Pacific Northwest. Many thought he was a primary candidate to fill the coaching vacancy at Washington after the 2001-02 season. Snyder met with Barbara Hedges, the Huskies’ athletic director, but Snyder removed his name from consideration on March 31, 2002.
None of his past, though, will be on his mind when Snyder makes his coaching debut in his hometown against Gonzaga. Snyder said the trip presents a good opportunity to visit with friends and family, but those visits are a secondary objective.
“This is a business trip for me,” Snyder said. “I’m going to prepare the same way I always do. In the back of your mind, it’s always nice to see friends and family, hopefully on Saturday afternoon with a win.”