Tuesday, January 28, 2014.
Matt Paradis’ invitation to the NFL Combine next month is yet another notch in the ol’ belt for the one-time Council High Lumberjack. His goal is to play in the NFL, but if he doesn’t end up there, he’ll have plenty of stories to tell his kids and grandkids—presumably on a ranch in the shadows of Cuddy Mountain. A reverse chronology would go: first-team All-Mountain West center, a couple conference championships, a big switch to offense from defense, and 2009 Boise State Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year. The latter still might be one of Paradis’ favorites, as he came out of nowhere as a walk-on during the Broncos’ second Fiesta Bowl season to give Kellen Moore and company the looks they needed to nail during practice.
Little known fact: it was, in effect, a knee injury that paved the way to Boise State for Paradis. He tore his ACL as a senior at Council, something his sister, Elizabeth, had done in high school, too. Elizabeth told Matt about the Idaho Sports Medicine Institute on the Boise State campus, and during treatment he became friends with long-time Bronco team physician Dr. George Wade. “Dr. Wade took an interest in Matt and mentioned him to the BSU coaches,” Matt’s father, Mike, said during his freshman year in a story by Wendy Green in the Adams County Record. The Boise State staff was familiar with Paradis through the Broncos’ football camps. Offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin followed up, offered him a preferred walk-on spot, and the rest is Highway 95 history.
Scout.com calls offensive lineman Andres Preciado of Imperial Beach, CA, a “sleeper.” There have been plenty of those to come through Boise State and blossom over the years (I believe I just talked about one). Preciado gave the Broncos his verbal commitment last night after his official visit over the weekend. One reason he’s a sleeper might be his size—he’s 6-6, but only 255 pounds. I’d bet on a redshirt year and a lot of quality time with Jeff Pitman. Preciado could become one of those cerebral Boise State O-lineman; among others, he had offers from Columbia, Brown and Dartmouth.
Boise State’s Ryan Watkins has moved into the nation’s top 10 in rebounding at No. 9 with an average of 10.7 boards per game. Watkins is sixth in total rebounds with 213 to date. He’s also one of only 13 players in the country averaging a double-double this season—Watkins is scoring 11.2 points per game. One other Mountain West player is in that club, and Watkins will see him soon enough. UNLV’s Roscoe Smith actually leads the nation on the glass with 12.2 rebounds per game. The Broncos visit the Rebels Saturday after hosting Air Force tomorrow night.
Aside from Boise State’s 21-point win over San Jose State, the Mountain West was in classic form Saturday. Three of the other four games went to overtime, and the largest margin of victory was five points, as San Diego State survived 74-69 in OT at Utah State. Fresno State took UNLV to overtime in the Thomas & Mack Center for cryin’ out loud before falling 75-73. The Aztecs, by the way, jumped to No. 5 in both polls yesterday. Their winning streak has reached 17 games. The only other Mountain West team getting so much as a vote was New Mexico. That’s what the Lobos got—one vote.
Larry Eustachy got a second chance in coaching, so he may as well give former Louisville standout Chane Behanan one on the floor. The 6-6 forward has transferred to Colorado State after being kicked off the Cardinals’ team at the end of December. Behanan’s been working with former NBA star John Lucas at a substance abuse recovery program in Houston. Behanan will have about two-thirds of a season left in his career when he becomes eligible for the Rams in mid-December this year. He scored 15 points and had 12 rebounds in Louisville’s 82-76 win over Michigan last April in the NCAA championship game.
Well, it was a nice road trip for visiting teams, but nobody came to watch. Therefore, the ECHL announced yesterday that the San Francisco Bulls have ceased operations effective immediately and will not play another game. All Bulls players have been declared unrestricted free agents, and as much as the Texas Stars have cherry-picked the Idaho Steelheads’ talent this season, coach Brad Ralph is sure to be poring over San Francisco’s roster. Only one Steelheads game is affected by the franchise failure—the Steelies were scheduled to go to the Bay Area March 29. The ECHL West Division still has four teams: Ontario, Stockton, Bakersfield and Las Vegas.
Catching up on former Boise Hawks: three Hawks alums are ranked among the top 20 Major League Baseball prospects heading into the 2014 season. Javier Baez, a Boise shortstop in 2011, is No. 7. Baez led all of minor league ball last year with 111 RBI between Class-A Daytona and Class-AA Tennessee. No. 9 is Kris Bryant, the second overall pick in the MLB Draft last June. Bryant hit .354 with four homers and 16 RBI in just 18 games in Boise. And Albert Almora, an outfielder with the Hawks in 2012, is No. 18. Almora joined the club late in the season that year and keyed a run to the Northwest League Championship Series by batting .292 in 15 games.
In Idaho we call him Sandpoint’s Nate Holland; in the Reno-Tahoe area they call him Squaw Valley’s Nate Holland. Either way, he’s going to the Winter Olympics again in the snowboardcross event. And Holland takes some momentum to Sochi, having won the men’s snowboardcross at the Winter X Games last Friday, his seventh gold in the event. Holland has bounced back impressively from a broken collarbone suffered in early December during a World Cup training run. “I don’t know how to explain this season other than it’s just been a season of adversity for myself,” Holland told USA Today. “(Friday) I accomplished my goal. I’m back to 100 percent.”
This Day In Sports…January 28, 1984, 30 years ago today:
Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers sees his record-setting 51-game point-scoring streak come to an end. Gretzky’s future team, the visiting Los Angeles Kings, not only iced “the Great One” but won the contest, 4-2. During the streak, Gretzky amassed an amazing 61 goals and 92 assists for 153 points.
(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.)