Few pulls coaches off recruiting road to be with Turiaf

Updated: July 24, 2005, 7:00 PM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

Gonzaga coach Mark Few pulled his coaches from the recruiting road Sunday so the entire staff could fly to Palo Alto, Calif., to be with Ronny Turiaf in advance of the former Zag's heart surgery Tuesday.

"We're going to see him through this. We're going to be right there with him and when he's through the surgery, he's going to come back and stay with us in Spokane and we're going to nurse him back to health," Few told ESPN.com from Las Vegas, where he and his staff were recruiting at the Reebok, Nike and Adidas tournaments. The July evaluation period continues through next Sunday.

Gonzaga trainer Steve DeLong would join assistants Billy Grier, Leon Rice and Tommy Lloyd with Few at the hospital Tuesday, Few said.

"We're an extension of [Turiaf's] family and we're going to be there with him," Few said.

Turiaf's mother was due to fly into the Bay Area from Paris on Monday night, Few said. Because Turiaf's father still lives in his native Martinique, Few did not know if he would join Turiaf's mother.

The 22-year-old Turiaf, who was drafted by the Lakers in the second round of last month's NBA draft, is scheduled to undergo surgery at Stanford University Medical Center to correct an enlarged aorta root. Turiaf would be hospitalized for a week, Lakers spokesperson John Black told The Associated Press.

Black and Turiaf's agent, Bouna Ndiaye, told ESPN.com on Thursday that the Lakers would pay for the surgery, pending league approval.

"The Lakers have been great, really great," said Few, who added that the Lakers will put Turiaf up at a hotel Monday night. "There is going to be a lot of downtime Monday night after the pre-op stuff and we wanted to be with Ronny then. We'll be there when he wakes up Tuesday, too."

The good news, Few said, is Turiaf was told by doctors that there is a chance that he might be able to play again.

Turiaf signed a two-year guaranteed contract with the Lakers on July 14, two weeks after they selected him with the 37th pick. But the contract was voided after he failed a physical.

Ndiaye told ESPN.com that an abnormality came up on Turiaf's medical report during the Chicago pre-draft camp in early June, but Turiaf still was cleared by doctors. The Lakers had additional testing done, then decided to pull Turiaf from the final four games of the Summer Pro League at Long Beach. According to AP, the abnormality surfaced several years earlier, too, and that the Lakers apparently had the results independently confirmed by independent physicians.

Ndiaye, Few and Black all said Turiaf might have died had his condition gone untreated.

Turiaf, the West Coast Conference player of the year for the 2004-05 season, averaged 15.9 points and 9.5 rebounds for the Zags.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

ALSO SEE