It didn’t look like a season-ending foot injury when it happened the last week of January, but with only eight games left now in the regular season, Chandler Hutchison’s rookie year with the Chicago Bulls is over. Bulls executive vice president John Paxson has shut down the former Boise State star for what remains of the 2018-19 campaign. Hutchison said in a story by K.C. Johnson in the Chicago Tribune that the latest scan on the sesamoid fracture in his right big toe showed it “about 75 percent healed,” which matched Paxson’s optimistic assessment of the situation. Hutchison played in 44 games before the injury and averaged 5.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. The 6-7 forward should be ready for NBA summer league action in July.
Talk about the jury still being out on a guy. Last June, Hutchison became the first Bronco ever to be taken in the first round of the NBA Draft. What will his legacy be compared to Boise State’s five first-round NFL Draft picks? Right now he’s closer to Kyle Wilson than he is to Ryan Clady. He’s certainly not trending like Leighton Vander Esch is. But Paxson is optimistic about Hutchison’s future. “The discouraging thing is he was kind of coming into his own a little bit when he got hurt,” Paxson said in the Tribune. “The things Chandler does well are his ability to rebound and push the ball. He’s another creator. He’s going to have to spend time in the gym shooting the ball this summer to become a better shooter because we know that’s an important component. But he has size and length to defend.”
AUSTIN’S INAUSPICIOUS JUNIOR YEAR
From the “Where are they now?” file comes Paris Austin, Hutchison’s former Boise State teammate. Austin will have to acclimate to a new coach for his senior year, as Cal fired Wyking Jones on Sunday. Safe to say Austin, who’s from Oakland, hasn’t had the most enjoyable homecoming since transferring. The Bears went 8-23 this season, and attendance has dropped by more than 3,000 fans per game over the last two seasons. Their one shining moment was a stunning 76-73 upset of Washington four weeks ago, a game in which Austin dished out nine assists. For the season, Austin averaged 11.6 points and 4.3 assists. He had a 20-point game at Fresno State in December, but Cal lost that night by 22 points.
LUCKY RUN FOR LENO?
This promises to be a very good year for former Boise State star Charles Leno Jr. And now there’s some good karma to boot. Leno proposed to his girlfriend, Jennifer Roth, after the Chicago Bears’ win over the Green Bay Packers the week before Christmas. I haven’t seen a wedding date, but perhaps it will be before Opening Night of the 2019 NFL season. Either way, those same Bears will face those same Packers to kick things off on Thursday night, September 5, at Soldier Field. Surely there’ll be some kind of aura that night for Leno, who has started the last 61 games at left tackle for the Bears and made his first Pro Bowl in January. Quite the journey for a one-time seventh-round draft pick.
QB IS KEY FOR THE VANDALS
Idaho spring football started Monday, with eyes on the quarterback spot. Starter Mason Petrino and backup Colton Richardson return, but it was an underachieving position during the Vandals’ 4-7 season in 2018. Petrino, who threw for 1,863 yards with 14 touchdowns against six interceptions, averaged less than 10 yards per completion. Richardson, the 6-4, 254-pounder from Lewiston, missed half the season with an injury and attempted only 58 passes. The only other QB on the roster is redshirt freshman Nikhil Nayar. Dylan Lemle, a three-star dual-threat quarterback out of Los Angeles, left the Vandals in January after not seeing the field during his redshirt freshman season, with myriad academic issues woven in.
BOISEANS FADING IN THE MAJORS
A few years ago, we had three Boiseans we were following through various stages of major league service. Things have changed now. Bishop Kelly grad Josh Osich, who wasn’t re-signed by the Giants over the winter and was designated for assignment by the Orioles earlier this month, was picked up by the White Sox. But Osich was optioned to Chicago’s minor league camp last Thursday. Boise High product James Hoyt is a non-roster invitee in Cleveland’s spring training camp. Hoyt pitched just one-third of an inning for Houston last season before being traded to the Indians last summer. He is not on Cleveland’s 40-man roster.
Finally, Borah High grad Stephen Fife has retired and is back in Boise working for a commercial real estate firm. Fife was also in the Cleveland organization last year, spending the season at Triple-A Columbus after half a season with the Seibu Lions in Japan in 2017. He had not pitched in the majors since a cameo start for the L.A. Dodgers in 2014. Fife made 18 appearances over three seasons with the Dodgers, going with 4-6 with a respectable 3.66 ERA. I always wondered why he didn’t get more of a shot. Fife has been a familiar baseball name locally for 20 years—ever since he made it to the Little League World Series in 1999 with the South Central Boise All-Stars.
The Boise State women’s gymnastics team goes into its 12th consecutive NCAA Regionals appearance next week seeded No. 12, its highest ever for the competition. But making nationals for the first time is going to be a lot harder. There are four regional sites this year, and each one will send two teams—not three—to the NCAA Championships in Fort Worth April 19-20. The Broncos will be in Corvallis, and two teams in the field have rankings higher than Boise State. Much higher. No. 4 Florida and No. 5 Denver will be there, as will the host team, No. 15 Oregon State. And we know what Gill Coliseum does for the Beavers.
This Day In Sports…brought to you by MAZ-TECH AUTOMOTIVE…your car says, “Take me to Maz-Tech!”
March 26, 1979, 40 years ago today: The night that is generally considered to be responsible for making the NCAA Tournament what it is today. It was sophomore Magic Johnson against senior Larry Bird, as the fast-breaking Michigan State Spartans snapped Indiana State’s 33-game winning streak to claim the national title with a 75-64 victory. Magic outscored Bird, 24-19, and would come out early for the NBA Draft. The rivalry continued the next season with Johnson playing for the Lakers and Bird for the Celtics.
(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.)