Finding normal on the court

Published 7:01 am Wednesday, July 8, 2020

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Okey Okey may have been feeling pretty good about himself when he stroked a three over the outstretched arm of former Austin Packer and current Minnesota Gopher Both Gach, but minutes later Gach was showing him what it takes to get to the Division I level as he blew by Okey for an easy lay-in.

Gach couldn’t help but grin as he looked back at Okey, who will be a senior at Austin this fall.

Gach was back in Packer gym for the first time in two years on Tuesday as he participated in a team workout with the Packer boys basketball team.

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“Every time I had one of these kids guarding me, they tried their hardest to get a stop,” Gach said. “We even did a lot of smack talking. They all wanted to prove themselves.”

Okey, and all of the other Austin kids who got a chance to play with Gach, was ecstatic about the opportunity to line up next Gach, who averaged 10.7 points per game in his sophomore season at Utah before transferring to the University of Minnesota this summer.

“I’ve been hooping at the outside parks, but that’s not the same. I’m excited to get back in the gym,” Okey said. “Today was a good experience and I think it’s going to help me develop as a person. Both’s NBA ready and having someone like him around is going to help everyone. I think it’s a special thing.”

The last time Gach was in Packer Gym, he was making his announcement that he would be committing to Utah. Being back in the gym brought back plenty of quality memories for Both.

“It feels good. This is the gym where I was at every day at 6 a.m. before school started,” Gach said. “This is where it started and it gives me that feeling when I was younger. It’s good for me to be back in Packer Gym. A lot of these kids support me and they ask me a lot of questions. I wanted to give my support back and get some workouts with them. Some of these guys have a lot of potential. I told them they’ve got to keep working. You’ve just got to keep working harder and you might have an opportunity.”

Gach’s presence in Austin has grown alongside his game. He now has a lot of younger faces following him on the court and looking to him for advice. It meant a lot for the entire Packer basketball program to have him back in the gym for a day.

“He’s what the younger guys aspire to be. A lot of our younger guys want to play college basketball and they want to be on the stage,” Fadness said. “Both is on that stage right now and I think they aspire to be like him. Both’s a good guy. For him to be here on a personal social level means a lot to the guys and it means a lot to our program.”

The Packer boys basketball team started its team workouts this week and it will eventually work towards playing scrimmages. Fadness said being in the gym with his players has been a relief after months of being stuck away from the team.

“On a personal level, being in the gym with the guys is the best part of coaching,” Fadness said. “For the guys, I think they were just itching to get in the gym. I know a lot of them were playing on outdoor courts and in the driveways, but it’s just not the same. These first couple of days they’ve worked really hard, the attitude has been good and the outlook has been good.”