March 18, 2023
How the Truong twins will continue to push Gonzaga to new heights
'We were always set on being together'
STANFORD — Only 1.2% of all babies born are twins. That means the likelihood of being a twin is incredibly low. Add on to that trying to play college basketball with your twin and the odds drop significantly. However, Kaylynne and Kayleigh Truong have been playing together from a young age and having been showing the world their abilities from the day they first stepped on campus at Gonzaga. Now as the Zags head into the offseason, following a first-round loss to Mississippi on Friday night, the Truongs are ready to lead Gonzaga to bigger places.
The Truong twins were born in Houston, Texas. Growing up, their dad was a big basketball fan and had basketballs lying around their garage. One day, Kayleigh went into the garage and tripped over one of the balls. After that, she wasn’t interested in playing the sport, but their parents signed them both up for anyway. They ended up falling in love with the sport and showed interest in continuing to invest time and grow in the sport.
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In high school, the Truongs were standout players in Houston. They helped lead their high school team to a District championship their senior year. Both sisters averaged at least 16.5 points per game their senior season with Kaylynne being named the districts MVP. However, not to be outdone, Kayleigh was a McDonald’s All-American nominee. When it came time to pick where they went to school, they had one rule: wherever they were going, they were going together.
“We were always telling the colleges it was package deal,” Kaylynne Truong told the Next. “I think there was one college, they called Kayleigh and was recruiting her but then she was like, ‘Oh, do you want to talk to my sister too’ because we were right next to each other and they were like, ‘Oh, you have a sister.’ So we had some colleges that were like that but we were always set on being together.”
The Truongs arrived in Spokane to a team that had finished 29-5 the year before and lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament as a five seed. They knew seeing the floor wouldn’t be handed to them. However, they were up for the challenge with both twins averaging at least 14 minutes played during their freshman campaigns.
It was during the sophomore season where Kayleigh saw her playing time grow, jumping into the starting lineup from the first game. She averaged almost eight points and dished out over 100 assists her second year. Kaylynne meanwhile became a strong bench presence, scoring four points a game and dishing out 81 assists. They grew as players learning from other Bulldog stars and saw how there was no other option but winning at Gonzaga.
“With Towny (Jill Townsend), her leadership was on the next level,” Kayleigh Truong told The Next. “Sometimes it would be super intense, but she’s just used to winning coming from like Okanagan, winning state, and coming to a winning program here at Gonzaga, so she knew what was expected and she wanted the program to continue to succeed the ways is made out today. She would show up and then she would make sure everyone was doing what they’re supposed to. She wanted to win. And that’s what you want on your team, more players who want to win.”
Their junior year was when the Truongs really came into their own. Both sisters saw their scoring go up to double-figures and both eclipsed the 100-assist total for the season. Kayleigh was named to the All-WCC first team for her performance while Kaylynne was named to the All-WCC tournament team as a part of the Zags 2022 WCC championship. They also got their first NCAA tournament victory of their career, defeating Nebraska 68-55 in the first round of the 2022 tournament.
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Coming into their senior year, the Truongs were now the leaders of the Gonzaga team. However, they were prepared for the bigger role thanks to the time they spent over the summer of 2022 with the Vietnamese National Team. The sisters are of Vietnamese descent and are dual citizens of the country. They spent part of their summer playing on both the 3×3 and 5×5 team in both the ABL and the Southeast Asian Games. They helped lead the country to the 3×3 championship in the ABL and the silver medal in the SEA games. Kaylynne was also a finalist for the MVP in the 5×5 tournament. The time they spent with the national team was special.
“It was a great experience,” said Kaylynne. “I go back to it because we got a chance to immerse ourselves in the culture but not only that we brought a medal home for the first time for Vietnam. Just basketball over there is very underdeveloped. It’s so new over there that there’s just not a lot of funding towards it and so being able to go over there and represent was a was a great experience.”
The Zags got off to a great start to the season, winning seven of their first eight this season, including wins over both ranked Louisville and Tennessee in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas. However, it was in their win over Louisville that Kayleigh injured her foot. The injury ended up knocking her out for three months. The injury did have a positive effect however as during the time her sister was out, Kaylynne flourished.
Coming into the year, Kayleigh had seen more of the floor between the two sisters. She had started 62 games in her career and averaged 11.2 points in her junior season. Kaylynne had started eight games coming into her senior year and did average 10.4 her junior year but the majority of that came with her coming off of the bench. With her sister out, she had to step up and did.
Kaylynne scored in double figures in 29 of 34 games this season and averaged 15.8 points on the season. She had seven 20-point performances including a career high 27 against San Francisco. She shot 42% from three, while knocking down 96 triples and dished out 172 assists, which led the WCC. With all the success she had this season, Kaylynne was named the WCC player of the year.
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“I think right now the confidence that she has is insane,” Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier told the Next. “It’s been a huge leadership growth year for her because she’s the point guard. It’s not like she’s one of the point guards like she thought she was going to be with her and her sister out there. She’s the point guard right now and that person has a lot on their shoulders for us. We rely on them to do a lot of things and to get the team organized and she’s such a veteran that she calls a lot of the offense. I think that just the way she stepped up on the floor as a leader off the floor, as a leader and then just as a basketball player. I think that her confidence is really high it and it should be every bit as high as it is.”
“So, I’ve gotten the opportunity to watch her grow,” Kayleigh added of her sister’s performance this season. “I mean, she’s, always had it. So I’m just happy that I was able to see her grow this season and do what she’s always used to doing. Super proud.”
On top of all the on-court success, the Truongs have made an impact on basketball all around the world. After a game when the Zags came to play against Stanford, the Truongs were intercepted by a couple of Vietnamese fans of theirs. They were able to interact with them and see their impact on basketball had expanded beyond Spokane.
Despite the tough loss to Mississippi, the Zags have a lot to build on for next season. They battled through a tough season with a lot of injuries and changes, something the Zags haven’t faced in a long time. All four of their seniors, including the Truongs, will return for next season, to what should be a loaded Gonzaga team.
“We are talking about a lot of things that we can try to build on from this year,” Fortier said. “I think that it’s on-the-court stuff, it’s off the court stuff, it’s leadership stuff. It’s so many things. We have so many options, and I think if they have the same attitude, they took this year going into next season, which there will be different challenges, then we are going to again be a hard out.”
Gonzaga has continued to show they are one of the best mid-major teams in the country, year in and year out. The Truong twins are a great example of the kind of players that a program like Gonzaga can develop and turn into great players and leaders. Now as they head into next season, they will look to grow as a group behind the two twins who have become the stars of the program.
“I think they’re very humble,” Fortier said. “I mean their parents have instilled that in them. I think they’re grounded and so very rarely get too worked up about any one thing. Their time playing with the Vietnamese national team. I think they’ve become very popular over there. And that’s not affecting them in a way they kind of just stay true to who they are. And I think that that’s a characteristic and leadership that people move towards people who are authentic and genuine and those things and so I think that’s part of the leadership piece. They work hard so that they’re most always doing the right thing or trying to do the right thing.”
Written by Matthew Walter
Matthew Walter covers the Las Vegas Aces, the Pac-12 and the WCC for the Next. He is a former Director of Basketball Operations and Video Coordinator at three different Division I women's basketball programs.
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