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Tuesday, April 27, 2021.
In this college sports world, you never know. But it was assumed Abu Kigab would return to the Boise State men’s basketball team to take advantage of the NCAA’s COVID-induced extra year of eligibility. On Monday, Kigab made it official on his social media accounts. The 6-7 forward, a transfer from Oregon 2½ years ago, was a second-team All-Mountain West pick this past season after averaging 11.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game—second on the team on both counts. Kigab was also Boise State’s team leader with 22 blocked shots. But man did the Broncos miss him in the Mountain West Tournament and the NIT. Kigab went down with a torn labrum in the final game of the regular season, the devastating loss to Fresno State, and underwent surgery.
JESSUP’S JUMPER STILL AS SWEET
There was talk two months ago of the Golden State Warriors calling up Justinian Jessup at some point this season. That ship has probably sailed, but the former Boise State standout has taken advantage of his time in the Next Stars program in Australia. Jessup is what they call a “draft-and-stash”—he was picked in the second round last November by the Warriors, and Australia is part of the plan. The Next Stars is a player development program to “fast-track” future stars of the NBA. The regular season is complete, and Jessup averaged 14.7 points per game in 25 games for the Illawarra Hawks. He shot 46 percent from the field and a solid 40 percent from three-point range. “It’s all really impressive,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s got a beautiful stroke, and I really like the fact he’s a pretty big guy.”
Monday was Chandler Hutchison’s 25th birthday, so there’s that. But we’re still trying to figure out what’s going on with the former Boise State star and the Washington Wizards. Hutchison sightings in D.C. have been scarce since he scored 18 points in his Wizards debut following a trade from Chicago. However, Hutchison did play last Friday in a 129-109 win over Oklahoma City, scoring five points and pulling down four rebounds in nine minutes of floor time. Then he was on the bench again Sunday versus Cleveland, and again Monday night against San Antonio. Hutchison has played in only six games since that stellar debut at the end of March and has scored a combined 22 points. It’s obviously a tough row to hoe for a guy who was a first-round draft pick three years ago. Hope everything’s okay.
BATES WANTS TO WALK THE NFL AISLE
The big week is here for former Boise State tight end John Bates. By this Saturday afternoon, the newlywed hopes to have his name called in the NFL Draft. Bates is confident. Although he wouldn’t tell Prater & The Ballgame Friday which teams he hit it off with best, he said there were “a lot of good conversations with a lot of teams—all positive.” During the winter, Bates worked out in Irvine, CA, in a program arranged by his agent, mixing with other rookies in his class and former NFL stars like Joe Staley and Ricky Proehl. That’s an interesting “advisory board” for a tight end. Staley was a mainstay offensive tackle with San Francisco for 13 years, while Proehl had a solid 17-year career as a wide receiver. If Bates can mesh those two guys, he’ll be a crushing run-blocker who can stretch the field in the passing game, right?
LVE MENTOR DEPARTS DALLAS
Former Boise State star Leighton Vander Esch is going to have to find someone else to lean on as he enters his fourth season in the NFL. Linebacker Sean Lee has retired after 11 seasons with Dallas, leaving behind 995 career tackles, eighth in Cowboys history. “As an individual he’s one of the most selfless people that I’ve ever been around,” Vander Esch said after last season. “The dude just truly loves the game. He’s extremely intelligent, he understands it like nobody I’ve been around. He’s just a phenomenal individual—his character bleeds off and is contagious. He’s like an older brother to me.” (Here’s to your health, LVE.) With ex-Bronco Tyrone Crawford having also retired four weeks ago, Boise State great DeMarcus Lawrence is now the longest-tenured player on the Dallas defense.
THE FLYIN’ BROCK FORSEY
My favorite part of Bob Behler’s Brock Forsey interview Monday on Idaho SportsTalk: his most memorable play as a Boise State Bronco. It was a four-yard run, and I vividly remember it. Forsey helicoptered into the end zone to tie the game in the tense third quarter of the Broncos’ stunning upset of No. 8 Fresno State in 2001, the game generally considered as Boise State’s launching pad into the national consciousness. Forsey happens to be my neighbor, and we were talking over the fence Sunday about the current Broncos. We both marveled at the fact that ESPN’s 2021 FPI has Boise State rated No. 78. “Good,” said Forsey, remembering how such things fueled the Broncos during his playing days. Chip, chip, chip.
PRESNELL REACHES ACROSS THE HIGH DESERT
We’ll have to wait a while to see how Allie Hueckman’s senior season at Burns High School goes. It doesn’t even start until next month, as Oregon has finally allowed indoor sports to resume. But Boise State women’s basketball coach Gordy Presnell knew enough about Hueckman to sign her to a National Letter of Intent on Friday. She’s a three-sport athlete in Burns—a two-time Oregon state champion in the high jump and an all-state player in volleyball (in addition to hoops). Heuckman, a 5-10 shooting guard, has current career averages of 15.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game for the Hilanders.
IT’S TEXAS TECH FOR THE MUCH-TRAVELED ARMS
Next stop on the Adonis Arms expedition is Texas Tech, as the former Northwest Nazarene star has transferred there from Winthrop. Two years ago Arms was the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year at NNU after transferring from Mesa Community College. Arms then went to Winthrop and was part of the Eagles’ storybook season that ended last month at 23-2 following a loss to Villanova in the NCAA Tournament. As a sixth man at Winthrop, the 6-6 guard averaged 10.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.
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April 27, 2016, five years ago today: Reports are confirmed that the University of Idaho football program will end its FBS affiliation and return to the Big Sky, effective with the 2018 season. The previous month, the Sun Belt had declined to extend the football-only contracts of Idaho and New Mexico State beyond 2017. The Vandals would thus become the first team ever to drop from the FBS to the FCS since the latter’s inception as Division I-AA in 1978. Idaho had moved to Division I-A in 1996, but conference stability was a constant problem. The Vandals had also logged only two winning seasons in the FBS in the new century.
(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.)