Chandler Hutchison says his ultimate goal is to play in the NBA, but that won’t be the first thing on his mind when he suits up for the Boise State men’s basketball team for his senior season.
The 6-foot-7 guard has a team-focused goal at the moment.
“The biggest goal for me now while I’m still here is to win a Mountain West championship,” Hutchison said. “I’ve been part of a team that’s done that here once before, my freshman year, that (2014-15) team, but really I was in a completely different role, and I was a completely different player.
“Just the team we have now and what it would mean to win one this year is something that I know I’ll remember for the rest of my life, and these guys will all work their butts off to achieve.”
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While the Broncos are a little more than a week into official practices for the 2017-18 season, coach Leon Rice sees noticeable progress among his nine returners, and he expects graduate transfers Lexus Williams (Valparaiso) and Christian Sengfelder (Fordham) to immediately compete for playing time.
“We’ve had some really talented teams, and this might not be one of our most talented, but it might be one of the teams that has the best chemistry and fits together really well,” Rice said. “That’s saying a lot, because I think all our teams have had really, really good chemistry, and I want this team to be maybe elite in that category.”
Hutchison said this year’s squad “oozes” unselfishness.
“There’s just something different in our team this year that guys are willing to do whatever for each other, and I don’t think a lot of places can say that, especially when people are challenged individually with their goals and things of that sort,” Hutchison said. “Here, we put those aside and we’ve just kind of been focused on one another, and then it just makes it that much easier on the court.”
Boise State opens the season Nov. 2 at home with an exhibition against College of Idaho, but here are a few storylines to catch up on from the offseason.
Grad transfers add immediate depth
Hutchison would have been the only senior on this year’s roster if not for the late addition of Williams and Sengfelder, who have a combined 137 starts at the Division I level.
Williams, who graduated from Valparaiso with a degree in accounting, averaged 22.9 minutes per game last season as the Crusaders went 24-9 and earned a berth in the NIT. The Chicago native will challenge for a spot as the Broncos’ starting point guard.
“I’m the type of player that really tries to do anything to win,” Williams said.
The 6-9 Sengfelder made 160 3-pointers in three years at Fordham, which ranks ninth in program history. His 1,059 career points are more than any active Bronco.
“I don’t know who’s going to start, and I don’t really worry about that too much this early in the year,” Rice said. “We’ve got the next three weeks to kind of sort through some things. I want everybody competing and everybody fighting for jobs.”
Puerto Rico tournament moves
The Broncos landed their fourth major early-season tournament invitation under Rice with their scheduled appearance at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, which is run by ESPN Events.
But because of the aftermath of Hurricane Maria the tournament will move from Puerto Rico to Coastal Carolina University Nov. 16-19 in Conway, S.C.
The Broncos, who open the tournament against UTEP, also will be joined by Appalachian State, Illinois State, Iowa State, South Carolina, Tulsa and Western Michigan.
“To start the preseason off strong will be a kick-start to a great season for us and for this program,” Williams said. “I think that if we can start off on the right foot in South Carolina, then we’ll be rolling for the year.”
Boise State has played previously in the Charleston Classic (2016), Wooden Legacy (2015) and Diamond Head Classic (2013).
Broncos add more homegrown talent
Idaho high school basketball fans will recognize two faces on the Broncos’ roster this season.
Redshirt sophomore guard Malek Harwell, a graduate of Century High in Pocatello, played in nine games off the bench last season and missed all of 2015-16 with a torn ACL in his right knee.
Harwell helped convince Twin Falls High product Casdon Jardine to join the Broncos this year after playing against him throughout their prep careers.
Jardine served a two-year church mission in Brazil out of high school and played last season for College of Southern Idaho where he averaged 10.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game as a guard/forward.
“It was awesome coming on my visits and seeing a familiar face, someone that I’d met before, I’d played against and I’d joked with before,” Jardine said. “(Malek’s) an awesome guy. I’m super excited to have him as a teammate now instead of an opponent.”
Smile for the camera
Boise State will have at least 22 games broadcast on television this season, including all 18 Mountain West contests.
The Broncos’ TV coverage starts with all three Puerto Rico Tip-Off games being picked up by ESPN, and they will make 12 total appearances on ESPN Networks throughout the course of the season.
The broadcast information for Boise State’s game at Oregon on Dec. 1 has not been announced, but that game likely will be televised.