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Mason Smith shoots for uncharted territory

Mason Smith shoots for uncharted territory

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on June 6, 2013 at 7:24 AM

Thursday, June 6, 2013.

Will Rocky Mountain High centerfielder Mason Smith be a first-day guy in the Major League Draft?  The first two rounds will be picked tonight, and Smith is on the bubble.  If he goes by the end of the second round, he’ll be the highest position player ever drafted out of the state of Idaho.  Smith just completed a three-year Grizzly career that produced a .427 average, 16 home runs, and 109 runs batted in.  But more important than those numbers is the eight-day trip he took at the end of May, visiting seven big league clubs and summarily ripping the cover off the ball. 

MaxPreps began its coverage of the 2013 high school baseball season in January by selecting the top player in each of the 50 states, and Fruitland High senior Joey Martarano was chosen as the top player in Idaho.  But Martarano was also the state 3A Player of the Year in football, and he committed to Boise State’s 2013 recruiting class in June, 2011, the earliest verbal the Broncos have ever received.  Martarano followed through, and will slide on MLB Draft boards (if he remains on them at all).

One of Boise State coach Chris Petersen’s MO’s is APR, the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate score.  And for the third straight year, the Bronco football program has earned a Public Recognition Award from the NCAA for placing in the top 10 percent in APR among FBS schools.  There were 13 programs honored, and Boise State was one of six that finished last season ranked in the Top 25.  The others were Clemson, Northwestern, Stanford, Ohio State and Alabama.

Tyler Shoemaker’s stay with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent a year ago was inexplicably short.  Not so in Kansas City, as the former Boise State wide receiver is getting props for his work in the Chiefs’ OTAs.  Reid Ferrin at writes that Shoemaker, who signed with the team in January, “has been a playmaker this offseason, catching most everything thrown his way.”  The Mountain View High product seems to be destined for Kansas City’s training camp.  “It’s been a great learning process,” Shoemaker told Ferrin.  “I think every day we go out there as a receiver group and try and get better and pick little things to work on each day and just try to take all the coaching that we can to get better.”

Oxbow is an underdog again, and you know Gary Stevens has to like it that way.  The Caldwell native will go off in the Belmont Stakes riding the No. 3 choice on the board, as Oxbow has drawn 5-1 odds.  Orb, the horse Oxbow stunned with the wire-to-wire win at the Preakness Stakes, is the favorite at 3-1, and Revolutionary is listed at 9-2.  Orb’s trainer, Shug McGaughey, is confident his colt can rebound from his fourth-place result at the Preakness.  At 14 horses, the Belmont field is the largest in 17 years.  Orb, Oxbow and Revolutionary are in the middle—coming out of the No. 5, No. 7 and No. 9 gates, respectively.

At the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene last night, Boise State’s Emma Bates earned first-team All-America honors with a third-place finish in the women's 10,000-meters.  Bates broke her own school-record by running a 33:37.13 at Hayward Field, topping the old mark by nearly 13 seconds.  The sophomore from Elk River, MN, is ranked ninth nationally in the 5,000-meters and runs that event tomorrow night.  The other three Broncos at nationals start competition today.  Matt Post goes in the hammer, school record-holder Daveon Collins in the 200-meters, and Marisa VanderMalle in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.  Elsewhere, Idaho’s Jeremy Klas and Idaho State’s Mike Arnold nabbed first-team All-America honors with sixth and seventh-place finishes in the men’s pole vault last night.

There’s no Exergy Tour this year, but the Ironman 70.3 Boise returns Saturday, and the second edition of a world-class whitewater competition takes over the Payette River north of Banks today through Saturday.  The North Fork Championship II qualifying race starts this morning at 11 on the Payette to decide five wild card spots in the main draw tomorrow.  And there’s a tantalizing new event this year.  You’ve seen skicross and snowboardcross in the Olympics.  Now North Fork Championship II introduces “boatercross,” sending four heats of 15 kayakers apiece charging through the rapids.  Boatercross starts tomorrow at 5 p.m.

Does anyone remember the weather for the Ironman 70.3 Boise last year?  The start time for the 1.2-mile swim was pushed back to 12 noon to try to fend off the chills of frigid Lucky Peak.  But when the blue-skinned triathletes emerged from the water, the air was 44 degrees, so the 56-mile bike race was reduced to 15 miles.  It became the Ironman 29.3 Boise, and the high temperature reached just 63.  Au contraire this year, as Saturday’s high is predicted to be 90.  The swim in Lucky Peak might be the most enjoyable event of the day.  Even with the climatological chaos last June, the race ended in a hard-to-believe tie between New Zealand natives Marty Reed and Callum Millward.  Both return this year.

This has flown under the radar, but there is one former Idaho Stampede player active for the NBA Finals starting tonight.  Patty Mills, the Australian who starred in college at Saint Mary’s, is a reserve guard for the San Antonio Spurs who averaged 11.3 minutes and 5.1 points in 58 games during the regular season.  Mills made his pro debut on New Year’s Day, 2010, as a member of the Stampede, scoring 38 points and dishing out 12 assists.  Two nights later his put-back with 1.2 seconds remaining gave the Stamps a one-point win.  Mills was recalled later that night by the Blazers, who had selected him in the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft, before returning to Idaho for a stint later in January.  He signed with the Spurs in March of last year.

Two College of Idaho notes: Congratulations to longtime C of I Sports Information Director Mike Safford Jr., who has been named the 2012-13 Cascade Collegiate Conference SID of the Year.  It’s the third time in his 12 years with the Coyotes that he has won the award.  Safford, of course, spends his summers as the Voice of the Boise Hawks and will call his 700th Northwest League game this season.  And Rod Jensen, whose contract as C of I head coach wasn’t renewed at the end of the men’s basketball season, has landed a post as the director of player development at Washington State.

This Day In Sports…June 6, 1999:

Seeded 13th and thought by many to be more style than substance, Andre Agassi defeats Andre Medvedev in five sets (after dropping the first two) in the finals of the French Open.  With the title, Agassi became only the fifth man to complete a career Grand Slam—joining Fred Perry, Don Budge, Roy Emerson and Rod Laver.  Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have since accomplished the feat.  Agassi was also the first to do it on three different surfaces: clay, grass and hardcourt (Federer and Nadal have joined him there as well).

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket.  He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)