By John Elambo
Kelly Olynyk was born in Toronto, where he was introduced to basketball at an early age. He played with fellow future NBA player Cory Joseph for the Scarborough Basketball Association before moving to Kamloops, B.C. when he was in Grade 7.
During his high school days, Olynyk did not attend a high school or prep school in the United States. He stayed home at South Kamloops Secondary School but got a taste of the U.S. competition while playing on provincial teams, competing at AAU and non-AAU tournaments in the United States and the Canadian Junior national team.
Olynyk grew from 6-foot-3 to 6-foot-10 in Grade 11. He was heavily recruited out of high school by colleges like Syracuse, Providence and North Carolina State but he decided to attend Gonzaga so he could play closer to home.
Olynyk earned the Basketball BC outstanding high school player of the year in Grade 12, leading the South Kamloops Titans to a 36-2 record and a third-place finish at the BC AAA High School Boys’ Basketball Championships. He also played football as a quarterback in his high school until he broke his arm during a playoff game.
Attending Gonzaga from 2009 to 2013, he was redshirted during his junior year in 2011-12. The following season in 2012-13, he was selected as a consensus First-Team All-American and the 2012-13 Academic All-America first team. At the end of his senior year he declared for the 2013 NBA Draft.
Olynyk was drafted 13th overall by the Dallas Mavericks, but was immediately traded to the Boston Celtics. He was able to sign his rookie-scale contract on July 7, 2013 and finished his rookie season with an average of 8.7 points and 5.2 rebounds in 70 games to earn a spot on the NBA All-Rookie second team.
Olynyk went on to play four seasons for the Celtics and play three years in the playoffs. In the summer of 2017, he became an unrestricted free agent after the franchise cut ties with him. He signed a four-year, $50 million contract with the Miami Heat and reached the 2020 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers before losing in six games. Olynyk made history by scoring the most points by a Canadian in NBA Finals with 24 points in a Game 2 loss.
Olynyk was dealt to the Houston Rockets at the 2021 NBA trade deadline.