While Mangisto Arop was getting ready to watch his Gonzaga teammates kick off their March Madness campaign from the sidelines, his former Ross Sheppard basketball coach was starting a tournament of his own.

Dave Youngs coached the six-foot-five forward from Sudan for two seasons from 2005 to 2007 before he moved on to Basketball Canada’s National Elite Development Academy in Hamilton, Ont. Youngs was on his way to Raymond for his senior men’s team’s provincials but he said he always has time to chat about his former players.

“He was unbelievable,” Youngs said. “Basketball-wise, he stood out.”

Arop came to Ross Sheppard from Hillcrest Junior High and Youngs said he fit in with the senior team very quickly.

In Arop’s last season with the Thunderbirds, his team won provincials and the Grade 11 student played an integral role.

“He was huge,” Youngs said. “He was our spiritual leader and he was our physical leader. He was everything.”

Youngs wishes his former standout was suiting up for his squad this weekend, but Arop won’t even be on the court when his current Gonzaga team takes on Florida State Friday.

Arop suffered a season-ending broken foot in the West Coast Conference semifinal game earlier this month.

Despite the injury, Youngs said he’s certain Arop will have another chance at the big dance.

“He was always intense and he knew where he wanted to get to. We’re extremely proud of him,” he added.