It’s time for the 32nd home opener in Boise Hawks history when the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes visit tonight. Not to dredge up the downtown stadium issue, but this will be the Hawks’ 30th season in Memorial Stadium down by the river (the team’s first two summers were spent at Borah High’s Wigle Field). The facility doesn’t look a lot different than it did when it was built in 1989. Speaking of that season, something weird happened that will probably never be topped. Hawks manager Mal Fichman was ejected in the sixth inning against the Salem Dodgers. Fair enough. But after the game Fichman was suspended for five games by the Northwest League because he came back on the field dressed as the mascot, Humphrey the Hawk, so he could still give his team instructions. You can’t make this stuff up.
The Hawks are already five games into the season and come home 3-2 after falling 8-4 last night in Spokane. One of the hottest Hawks is outfielder Cade Harris, the Colorado Rockies’ 10th-round draft pick earlier this month out of Oklahoma. Harris is batting .400, has walked nine times and has scored nine runs. I like this one—Sunday night’s 9-3 Boise win featured the first guy named Lackey to earn a victory for the Hawks in 19 years. As far as we know, Shelby Lackey is no relation to John Lackey, the longtime big league righthander from Texas who got his professional start with the Hawks in 1999. Shelby is a 20-year-old Californian who pitched at Pacific and was just selected in the 18th round.
Fair or not, it’s going to be natural to compare Declo running back Keegan Duncan to Riggins’ Leighton Vander Esch, Melba’s Shea McClellin, Council’s Matt Paradis and Glenns Ferry’s Korey Hall. Heck, let’s throw in Grangeville’s Matt Hill. NFL guys, all of them, this century. Duncan is the latest small-town commit for the Boise State football program. To say he’s built for an FBS backfield goes without saying—Duncan is 6-3, 205 pounds. And there’ll be more where that came from. “They aren’t worried about weight because obviously they can make me gain (it) pretty easily with the things they do,” Duncan told BroncoCountry.com last month.
And Duncan can run. He rushed for 2,843 yards (almost 219 per game) and 29 touchdowns for the state 2A champions last season and added 13 more TDs as a receiver and on special teams. Scout.com rates Duncan as a three-star recruit, which is sayin’ something for a kid from Declo. Duncan could probably play anywhere. Remember that Vander Esch, McClellin and Hall also played offense in high school and were lights-out on defense as Broncos. Duncan is Boise State’s first in-state commit and fifth overall for the 2019 class; right now there are two four-stars and a trio of three-stars.
Coach Pete still strikes gold in Idaho. Washington coach Chris Petersen has landed a commitment from Middleton High offensive lineman Gaard Memmelaar, a 6-5, 285-pounder. The footnote here is that Memmelaar is set for the Huskies’ 2020 recruiting class—he’s only going to be a junior this fall. He attended UW’s football camp last week, received a scholarship offer, and pulled the trigger with Petersen and offensive line coach Scott Huff. Memmelaar says he’s shutting down his recruitment now. The Seattle Times notes, “Yes, Gaard is a guard.”
SB Nation came up with a profile of “2018 World Cup teams as college football teams.” And it goes something like this. “Hello, fan of American football. The World Cup is happening. Here’s a quick way to get caught up on the whole thing and/or know how to make fun of each team.” A couple of highlights from SB Nation’s 32-team comparisons. “Costa Rica: A relatively tiny country has made five World Cups now, all of them recent, including a top-10 finish and takedowns of a couple big names. This sounds like Boise State. Uruguay: A dirty team with some big wins a long time ago, all based in a (really beautiful!) area you probably wouldn’t visit otherwise: BYU.” Some may disagree with the first part of that synopsis. But perhaps not Chancellor James, the Bronco who took the punch in the groin in 2015.
The “positionless era” comes up a lot when experts talk about the NBA of today, and Chandler Hutchison is seen as an ideal fit for that scenario by Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated. He praises the former Boise State star’s ballhandling and facilitating skills and his ability to lead in transition. The concerns, says Fischer, include his untested defense due to the time he spent in the Broncos’ zone scheme—and the fact his three-point percentage dropped as a senior. Fischer’s NBA comparison for Hutchison is Trevor Ariza of the Houston Rockets. “Hutchison’s athletic profile and well-rounded skill set is tailor made for the modern NBA game,” writes Fischer. “If his shooting translates and continues to develop, he could be one of the steals of the 2018 draft.”
Jon Givony updated his mock draft at ESPN.com yesterday, but he didn’t change his projection for Hutchison, leaving him in the No. 29 spot, going to the Brooklyn Nets. Givony now slots French point guard Elie Okobo for Chicago’s choice at No. 22 (the Bulls were said to have made a “promise” to Hutchison at one point). Ryan Heckman at fan site DaWindyCity.com, for one, hopes the Bulls keep that promise. “A do-it-all wing is a recipe for bench success,” writes Heckman. “Hutchison projects well at the NBA-level on both ends, and a lot has to do with his effort. He doesn’t give up on a play. He attacks. He plays tough defense. What’s not to like when looking at a future bench stud?”
This Day In Sports…June 20, 1993, 25 years ago today:
John Paxson’s three-pointer with 3.9 seconds left holds up for a 99-98 Chicago win in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. With the victory the Bulls completed their first three-peat by beating the Phoenix Suns, four games to two. Michael Jordan averaged a Finals record 41 points a game, but no one realized it would be Jordan’s final game prior to his first retirement. Jordan left for an ill-fated attempt at baseball in the Chicago White Sox organization before returning to the Bulls almost two years later.
(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.)