Part of the reason the Snow College men’s basketball team played a scrimmage this season in Salt Lake Community College’s arena was because of the number of Badgers who are from the Wasatch Front.
It’s understandable. After all, 10 of Snow’s 14 players (71 percent) this season are from Utah. (By comparison, the other junior colleges from Utah, SLCC and USU Eastern, have just 30 and 12 percent of their players from the state, respectively.)
But it’s not a departure from any norm. In fact, ninth-year Coach Robert Nielson’s practice has been for at least half of the team in any given season to be from the state of Utah. That’s despite being able recruit to successfully across the nation and even the world. One player this season is from South Sudan.
“We want to recruit most of our kids from Utah,” Nielson said.
That’s because Snow is a state-supported school, he said.
Some of the best players come from Utah. And by staying local, families get to watch them play. Staying in-state also gives the players a chance to go on to local universities, Nielson said.
“It’s good to have state and local people as much as you can,” he added.
There are also really good shooters in the state—and that fits Snow’s style of play, Nielson said.
It’s also nice to give kids from Utah scholarships, Nielson added.
Nielson also said that they are “really fun to coach,” noting that student-athletes from Utah are good students.
“Academically, we have a goal of a 3.5 GPA, and a lot of our Utah kids are higher than that; so not only are they good basketball players we are trying to recruit, but they are good students,” Nielson said.
While speaking with the Sanpete Messenger, Nielson asked seven Utah players for their GPAs. Five said their GPA was at least 3.78.
“That’s kind of what you’ve got with these kids,” Nielson then said.
Nielson doesn’t have many problems off the court with the student-athletes from Utah, either.
“Not a lot of drama,” Nielson said. “And it’s a small town, so what these kids do, people know.”
Matt Norman could have gone to a junior college in Nebraska, but Snow wanted him the most, he said.
“They recruited me a lot and made me feel welcome,” Norman said.
Also, it’s close to home in Timpanogos, Norman said. Timpanogos is not even an hour-and-a-half drive from Ephraim.
Tredyn Christensen liked staying in the state because he has always grown up with the style of play that Snow plays.
“Other teams that don’t have Utah kids [have] different styles because they’re from different places,” Christensen said.
Utah’s style is 3-point shooting, Christensen said.
Drake Allen said that Utah plays a different style than is seen in other states, so it works out well to stay in-state.
On having nine teammates from Utah, Norman said “I love it because they are coming with similar backgrounds – similar knowledge. [It’s a] lot easier.” He explained that he knew most of his teammates already from the Amateur Athletic Union.
Christensen said that he and his teammates all grew up with each other, knowing each other through playing at other high schools.
Now, they can play at “an elite level” together after growing up together, Allen said.
In fact, Christensen and Allen played on the same Westlake High School team.
“We got good chemistry because we both grew up [together],” Christensen said, noting that each of them have seen the other improve. “We knew how each other play.”
Norman shared another insight.
“It’s nice because after basketball is over, everyone will be close by,” Norman said.