DeLaet is here—we want him out there

Let’s do some Boise State Athletic Hall of Fame prep in advance of Friday night’s induction ceremony. It’s good news/bad news that golfer Graham DeLaet will be able to attend, as he still hasn’t been able to play a PGA Tour event this calendar year. So DeLaet will have to settle for a special evening honoring his accomplishments as a Bronco: the top two single-season scoring averages in school history in 2004 and 2006, a Boise State record 10 career collegiate victories and the 2006 WAC Player of the Year award. He is the only Bronco ever to qualify for NCAA Regionals three times. Since then, of course, DeLaet has made it to the top 40 of the Official World Golf Rankings, competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics and played on the Presidents Cup and World Cup teams.

The hope here is that DeLaet will be walking the fairways on the PGA Tour again sometime soon. The Weyburn, Saskatchewan, native was forced to withdraw from three tournaments last season due to ongoing back pain. In December DeLaet underwent what he called “conservative treatment that included an intradiscal stem injection to assist with my back mobility and long-term stability.” DeLaet said at the time it usually takes 7-10 days to heal and that he was “doing everything possible to rehab and return to the course fully healthy.” But no luck yet. He tweeted about this week’s event: “It hurts not being at @RBC_Heritage this year. I love Hilton Head Island and Harbor Town.” DeLaet’s back issues date back to 2011, when he was able to play in only two tour events before shelving himself for the season.

This sounds like a job for the Scott Slant. Relentless researcher Jay Tust of KTVB came up with this nugget: “Kekoa Nawahine (108) and DeAndre Pierce (83) are the first set of Boise State defensive backs with 80+ tackles in the same season in at least 14 years.” It’s amazing that Tust even thinks of these angles. Well, that takes us back to the early part of the century. So how far back can we really go before we see this kind of production from two Bronco safeties, not just DBs? Well, I’m not one-upping Jay by much. The answer is 15 years. Safeties Quintin Mikell and Wes Nurse logged 97 and 89 tackles, respectively, in 2002.

Of course, the big picture is that Boise State has one of its most well-rounded secondaries in its history, featuring four guys who have become indispensible leaders as the Broncos gear up for the Spring Game Saturday afternoon. The universal word between Nawahine, Pierce, Tyler Horton and Avery Williams is playmaking. It seemed every time Nawahine and Pierce got a chance—and it wasn’t that often—during their freshman year in 2016, they were making a play. Horton, after backing up Donte Deayon in 2015, made his biggest impression the following season with his 85-yard pick-six against Washington State’s Luke Falk. Williams introduced himself last September with an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown the first time he touched the ball.

Michael Lycklama of the Statesman reports that a former Rocky Mountain backup kicker has morphed into a preferred walk-on at Hawaii. Nino Alibegic told Lycklama he figures he “only attempted one PAT, one punt and a handful of kickoffs” as the Grizzlies’ backup kicker in high school. Alibegic then perfected his craft at Arizona Western and at Independence Community College in Kansas. And he’s risen to the FBS. A pretty cool story.

Speaking of cool stories, the NBA’s G-League has undergone massive changes the past few years. For one thing, it used to be called the D-League, and the Idaho Stampede used to be in it. One of the only constants in the G-League has been guard Andre Ingram, who’s been in the circuit the last 10 seasons. Ingram, now 32 years old, walked into what he thought was an end-of-season interview Monday with the South Bay Lakers (known as the L.A. D-Fenders when he first came into the league).

Ingram got a hug from South Bay coach Coby Karl, the former Boise State and Stampede star, among others. Then the 6-3 guard found out, after a decade of dutifully paying dues in the minors, he was being called up for the final two games of the L.A. Lakers’ season. Magic Johnson walked in, as did Lakers coach Luke Walton. Ingram was, by definition, emotional. And it gets better. He made his NBA debut late in the first quarter of the Lakers game against Houston. And on his first shot attempt, Ingram drained a three-pointer.

After facing Allen twice last weekend, the Idaho Steelheads could play the Americans nine straight times if the best-of-seven ECHL Mountain Division semifinals go the distance. The series starts Friday night in CenturyLink Arena, and the Steelheads now appear to have a potent one-two punch between the pipes. Tomas Sholl, who has gone 9-0-2 since coming to Boise the first week of March, will be joined by Philippe Desrosiers, who was reassigned to the Steelies Monday by Texas of the AHL. Desrosiers left just before Sholl arrived—at that point, he was 23-9-3 with two shutouts and a 2.34 goals-against average.

Last Friday on Idaho SportsTalk, Mike Prater and I spent a considerable amount of time talking about local sports coverage. The catalyst was the impending (and disappointing) demise of the nightly sports segment on KIVI, but we also discussed the disappearance of Boise State Olympic sports, the Idaho Steelheads, Boise Hawks, College of Idaho and NNU from the sportspages. It has been pointed out to me that the Idaho Press-Tribune, while prioritizing Bronco football and hoops, continues to staff C of I football and basketball—and often covers other Coyotes and Nighthawks events. And high school coverage in the Press-Trib is increasing, not decreasing. I think I was blinded by the darkness.

This Day In Sports…April 11, 2004:

After a career of coming close, Phil Mickelson wins his first major in 47 tries with a title on Easter Sunday at The Masters. Mickelson birdied five of the last seven holes in the final round—and needed the one he got on 18 to edge Ernie Els. “Lefty” had 22 PGA Tour victories to that point but had always met frustration in the majors. Since then, Mickelson has won two more Masters (2006 and 2010), one British Open (2013) and one PGA Championship (2015). He has never won the U.S. Open.

(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.)