SAN DIEGO – Matthew Lang was hanging out with his parents after Gonzaga’s home win over Loyola Marymount on Jan. 27 when Mark Few spotted the walk-on guard.
The coach walked over and informed Lang and his parents that Matthew was going on scholarship for spring semester.
Who was the happiest Lang?
“Probably my dad,” the senior guard said .
Few later announced to the team at a practice that Lang had earned a scholarship and the Portland native was mobbed by his teammates.
“They all celebrated,” said Lang, who was also awarded a scholarship for one semester earlier in his GU career. “So I heard it twice and both times it was pretty cool.”
Extremely cool, according to freshman forward Chet Holmgren.
“When coach announced it, it was like those videos you see on the internet where everybody goes crazy. We were going crazy and roughing him up a little bit,” Holmgren said. “For how hard he works in the classroom and on the court, and for how good of a guy he is, he definitely deserves it.”
Lang said earning a scholarship is “amazing. That’s my goal, that’s what I work for. It feels like all the hard work is paying off. All the time you put in at the gym, that means something.”
Gonzaga has a long tradition of walk-ons contributing to the program, but only a few have received scholarships in the past 13 years, including David Stockton, Mike Hart and Andrew Sorenson.
This is Lang’s fourth season with the Zags. The 6-foot-3 guard played the last 2 minutes of Gonzaga’s 92-62 rout over San Diego on Thursday for his 51st career appearance.
Walk-ons usually become fan favorites and Lang has certainly done his part to endear himself to the Kennel Club and McCarthy Athletic Center regulars. He has a habit of hitting the team’s 10th 3-pointer in a game, meaning free tacos for those in attendance at the McCarthey Athletic Center. Lang isn’t sure how many times he’s connected on the 10th 3-pointer, but he’s had at least one each of his four seasons.
“I’ve seen Matty Tacos or Taco Lang on Twitter,” said Lang, who is 9 of 24 (37.5%) from deep in his career.
Lang had options after his senior season at Jesuit High. He had numerous Division III opportunities, several D-II offers in the West and discussions with some DI programs.
“I thought of going to those other schools, it’s cool you get to play basketball and remember stuff, but you’re not going to be reallyed for much,” Lang said. “But at Gonzaga, there’s tradition and experiences being on the team and playing on the No. 1 team in the country is pretty cool.”
Lang is planning on using an extra season of eligibility to play basketball next year. He hasn’t decided if that will be at Gonzaga or at another school.
He’ll determine that later, but he knows he’s made the right decision for the past four seasons.
“Just the people, mainly,” Lang said. “The whole community of Gonzaga, the coaches, managers, my teammates are wonderful. Every year with the new guys coming in, I wonder, ‘How well will I get along with these guys? Are we going to form and be a family as we have in the past?’
“And every year it’s no surprise we’re the same bunch of kids and having fun and they’re all my brothers.”