SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- The Gonzaga Bulldogs are in Salt Lake City for the first round of the NCAA Tournament for their game against South Dakota State.

The Zags have a close tie with the city because of GU-legend John Stockton and his legendary NBA career with the Utah Jazz. The Bulldogs now have a new connection to the city: Jesse Wade.

Wade committed to the Zags a few years ago, but deferred his enrollment to the fall of 2017 so he could serve his mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Wade is Gonzaga's first-ever recruit to defer his enrollment in order to complete his mission.

Wade is currently in Lyon, France and will return to the United States in 26 days. He has not been home since leaving two years ago and the only time he can talk via Skype with his parents is Christmas and Mother’s Day.

Wade’s father, Eric, is a Brigham Young University alum. His sister committed to BYU for soccer, but Wade decided to go a different direction and spurn the Cougars for the Zags. Wade’s family said he received some guff for that.

“You know, Jesse has been given a hard time by committing to Gonzaga being LDS, but he feels very strongly and we do as a family that it’s definitely the right place for him to be,” said Eric Wade. “Tremendous program, excellent coaches, we couldn’t feel more blessed for him to have that opportunity to be part of such a great program.”

Wade knows many of the current BYU players either from home or his mission, so regardless, Wade is going to help take this rivalry to a whole new level when he comes to the Kennel next year.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of the article stated Jesse Wade was Gonzaga's first-ever LDS recruit.