Rolling the dice on Hutch facts and figures

Unfortunately, the Scott Slant column is off tomorrow, so here’s a “what if” should Chandler Hutchison indeed go in the first round tonight. If he does, he’ll be the first Boise State player to do it, of course. He would also be the seventh Bronco taken in the NBA Draft in program history, but only the second since the draft went to just two rounds, joining second-rounder Roberto Bergersen in 1999. Hutchison would be the 13th first-round pick in Mountain West history. By adding Hutchison to Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State would also be one of just a handful of schools to have a first-rounder in both the NFL and NBA this season. The other possibilities are Alabama, Ohio State, Maryland, Oklahoma, USC and UCLA. The only Mountain West school ever to pull that off was Utah in 2005 with Alex Smith and Andrew Bogut. Man, I sure hope this is relevant tomorrow.

On a day like this, it’s intriguing to look back in the archives and remind ourselves of Hutchison’s nondescript freshman year, when he averaged 3.1 points per game. Beyond the fact that Hutchison hadn’t developed yet, you have to remember that it was hard for a young guy to see daylight with Derrick Marks and James Webb III dominating the floor. But come Boise State’s landmark first road victory over UNLV in the Thomas & Mack Center in February, 2015, there were signs.

Here’s what I wrote: “Interesting in the Las Vegas triumph was Chandler Hutchison. The true freshman is starting to do the little things—someday he’ll be a complete player. The Broncos would love it if it was sooner rather than later. Boise State grabbed its first lead since the 14-minute mark of the first half versus the Rebels on a putback by Hutchison with 17:18 left in the game. He followed with a monster block a minute later. Hutchison had only six points, but he contributed five rebounds and three blocked shots before he was pulled with four fouls.” That performance in the shadows says a lot about what he can bring to the table as a rookie in the NBA.

Phil Steele’s legendary “War and Peace” of college football, his preseason magazine, hits newsstands next week, but most of the other publications are already out. Let’s bide our time with a couple snippets from Athlon, which picks Boise State to win the Mountain West, beating San Diego State (not Fresno State?) in the conference championship game. Athlon sees the Broncos representing the Group of 5 in a New Year’s Six Bowl, pitting them against Wisconsin in the Fiesta Bowl. And it comes down to defense. Athlon points out that Boise State’s top 10 tacklers not named Vander Esch are back, as are those responsible for 12 of the Broncos’ 15 interceptions last year and 30 of their 34 sacks.

I saw this link on the OBNUG site from a Jacksonville sports radio station website. It included an interview with Darrell Sutherland, the 18-year head coach of Bartram Trail High School, touching on incoming Boise State quarterback Riley Smith. What’s cool about it is what it says about Smith’s character—a thread that seems to be running through the roster these days. Smith helped lead Bartram Trail to a state 7A runner-up spot in Florida in 2017 and is now in Boise. “The thing that is going to stick with me about Riley is what a great young man he was to everybody that he came in contact with, said Sutherland. “He made everybody feel important and special and that trait in him I hope is something that rubbed off on the next group of guys.”

Now for something on an incoming quarterback in the NFL. We’re talking Josh Allen and his chances of starting for Buffalo this season. The latest view from USA Today’s Sal Malorana says it would be a longshot. Malorana calls the former Wyoming star the “most polarizing of the top four quarterbacks in the draft and probably the one who will be least ready to play among that group at the start of the season.” Allen will have to—first and foremost—improve his much-scrutinized accuracy. Writes Malorana, “The expectation is that unless Allen shocks everyone, free agent signee AJ McCarron will be Buffalo’s starter, at least early in the season.” The Bills see McCarron as a nice placeholder while Allen develops.

Troy Merritt breaks out a new set of Wilson irons today at the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, CT. Hopefully that boosts the momentum Merritt already has going. The former Boise State star has had a week of rest since his tie for 12th at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. It was his third top 25 finish of the season and first since the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February. Merritt has made seven straight cuts now. Plus, the Travelers was the scene of his best performance of the season a year ago, a tie for eighth.

A home opener crowd of 4,064 at Memorial Stadium last night wasn’t all smiles, as the Boise Hawks fell 6-4 to Salem-Keizer. How many opening nights are left in the facility. Jeff Eiseman os Agon Sports said yesterday on Idaho SportsTalk thats the downtown stadium project is moving forward. He expects to make some announcements next month and is still hoping for an opening date in 2020 (but that window of opportunity is closing with each passing day). So how does Hawks manager Scott Little like the team’s current digs? “There’s a lot of bad locker rooms in this league,” said Little on IST the other day. He didn’t specify Memorial Stadium, but we got the drift. “We can’t spend too much time worrying about that kind of stuff. We just have to go out and play baseball.”

This Day In Sports…June 21, 2015:

The U.S. Open makes its first-ever visit to the Northwest, and 21-year-old Jordan Spieth continues to make history after his Masters victory in April. Spieth shot a three-under 69 in the final round but didn’t clinch the title until Dustin Johnson stunningly three-putted the 18th green from 12 feet out. The Chambers Bay course outside Tacoma took a verbal beating from players, but Spieth shook it off to become the youngest U.S. Open winner since Bobby Jones in 1923—and the youngest to win two career majors since Gene Sarazen in 1922.

(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.)