The free agents of college basketball

(TOM SCOTT'S COLUMN WILL RETURN TUESDAY.)

Friday, June 9, 2017 

Boise State men’s basketball is in on the transfer game.  Two seasons ago it was Lonnie Jackson, a graduate transfer from Boston College.  Last season there was James Reid, a “regular” transfer from Arkansas-Little Rock.  Now, after adding Fordham grad transfer Christian Sengfelder for 2017-18, coach Leon Rice has signed Lexus Williams as a redshirt senior next season.  Williams graduated from Valparaiso in May and is immediately eligible. 

Williams is a 6-foot, 165-pound point guard who comes along at the right time, with Paris Austin having transferred to Cal.  Williams doesn’t look to be an Austin-type player—he averaged 23 minutes and 5.2 points per game last season, his first healthy one since 2014 with the Crusaders.  But he does provide a veteran presence to help mentor the development of true sophomores Alex Hobbs, Marcus Dickinson and Justinian Jessup.  I can hear Bob Behler now: “A nice drive by Lexus…”  (You’ve already heard that one, right?)

There’s a whole new recruiting game going these days.  College coaches are on the lookout for regular transfers and graduate transfers.  Numbers have exploded.  According to VerbalCommits.com, there have been 684 of them so far this year in men’s basketball.  Nevada coach Eric Musselman has been making a living off of them.  Since Musselman took over the Wolf Pack program a little more than two years ago, 14 of the 19 commitments he has received have been transfers.  San Diego State has been almost depending on regular transfers and graduate transfers.  Of course, sometimes it works the other way, as Aztec star power forward Zylan Cheatham has bolted for Arizona State.  Rice stresses that he looks for the ideal fit first, and he professes to be lucky to find a fit like Williams in the month of June.

Never a dull moment in San Diego, as the future home of Aztecs football is debated.  It’s important, because Mountain West football has slipped almost as much as Mountain West hoops on the national scene, and a strong San Diego State football program is essential to the health of the conference.  The latest San Diego Union-Tribune column debating the subject comes from Nick Canepa, who has too many good lines to fit into this column.  Canepa thinks Qualcomm Stadium needs to be preserved.  He thinks the SoccerCity project that includes a “much-too-small” 33,000-seat stadium is inadequate and pie-in-the-sky.  “Lawyers are getting involved,” Canepa writes.  “As it is, Mara Elliott, our City Attorney, has spotted more holes in SoccerCity than there are in my head.”

Canepa feels that unless Qualcomm remains standing, SDSU football will be homeless as soon as three years from now.  The Padres may still let the Aztecs use Petco Park after 2019, but only after baseball season ends.  And what if the Pads made the postseason?  “San Diego State football cannot move, but it can disappear,” writes Canepa.  “And if there isn’t some kind of dramatic change to this nonsense, the work of the likes of Don Coryell, Claude Gilbert, Rocky Long, Marshall Faulk and all the other coaches and players who have pushed the program well into the 21st century, Aztecs football is going to be a museum piece.”

Seven years after he was a first-round NFL Draft pick, we don’t hear much about former Boise State star Kyle Wilson.  That’s because he doesn’t have a team—and if he doesn’t have one soon, it might be curtains for his career.  Wilson hasn’t been re-signed by the New Orleans Saints after missing all of last season with a torn labrum in his shoulder and is an unrestricted free agent.  He landed with the Saints in 2015 after not being re-signed by the New York Jets, the team that drafted him No. 29 overall in 2011.  Wilson has logged just four interceptions over 95 career games.  Can the one-time Bronco captain get one more chance?  Wilson turns 30 on September 8. 

Allie Ostrander appears to be lying in wait after advancing to the 3,000-meter steeplechase final last night at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene.  Boise State’s distance star finished third in her heat, setting up a very interesting Saturday.  Ostrander runs the steeplechase final mid-afternoon tomorrow, then competes in the 5,000-meters just an hour and a half later (when she’ll be joined by fellow Bronco Clare O’Brien).  Ostrander has her game-face on for the steeplechase, though.  “After seeing the prelims it looks like everyone is going to have a lot to give for the final, so I’m excited to duke it out.”  You’ve gotta love Allie Ostrander.

Boise State’s Sadi Henderson just missed qualifying for the 800-meter final last night, recording the eighth-fastest time and earning second-team All-America honors.  Henderson said she couldn’t find a gap in the tightly-grouped pack in her heat when she was ready to make her move.  Henderson had won the the 800-meter premiere race at the Oregon Twilight at Hayward Field last month.  Ostrander also has previous experience on the legendary track.  Running her first race in four months after suffering a stress fracture, finished eighth in the 5,000-meters at the US Olympic Trials last July.

Here’s hoping Troy Merritt can begin the US Open next week the way he did the FedEx St. Jude Classic yesterday.  The former Boise State star shot a two-under 68 in the first round in Memphis, capped by birdies on Nos. 15 and 16, and is tied for 14th, four shots off the lead  Nampa’s Tyler Aldridge is unlikely to play past today after posting a five-over 75.  Aldridge ended his round with three straight bogeys.

This Day In Sports…June 9, 1973:

Secretariat wins the Belmont Stakes by a staggering 31 lengths to become the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 25 years.  To this day, the thoroughbred holds the records for all three Triple Crown races.  Secretariat was considered the No. 2 racehorse of the 20th century, behind legendary Man o’ War.  There would be two more Triple Crown winners in the 1970’s (Seattle Slew in 1977 and Affirmed in 1978), but there would not be another until American Pharoah finally captured the trilogy two years ago.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK.  He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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