Palmer signs with Rinner in Texas (Basketball)
It’s not often a high school freshman will impact a college coach, but John Palmer of Colony is far from ordinary.
The all-state point guard has always played like a veteran, even as a scrawny 14-year-old who held his own against Wasilla in the 2007 ASAA Class 4A championship game. His team didn’t win, but Palmer left an impression on then UAA assistant Shane Rinner.
“I just loved his poise,” Rinner told me.
Fast forward four years.
Rinner is the new head coach at NCAA Division II Texas A&M International and one of the first things he did was sign Palmer to a National Letter of Intent. The 5-foot-10, 150-pounder will join a recruiting class that already includes Nome’s Jeremy Head and a coaching staff of transplants like Rinner, Bryan Weakley, Krehg Perez and Dylan Theis.
“We got a little piece of Alaska down here in Texas,” Rinner said.
Palmer averaged 17 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds as a senior, leading the Colony Knights to their fourth consecutive trip to the state tournament. He was also named Region III Most Valuable Player and First Team All-State.
“The thing I really like about John is he’s a real student of the game,” Rinner said. “He’s a guy that I’ve seen get better in all facets of his game.”
Rinner said Palmer is an above-average 3-point shooter and crafty playmaker off the dribble.
“He can shoot off either foot in the lane when he gets in there against taller people,” the coach said. “I like his skill set, basketball IQ, toughness and love for the game. He has all that.”
Best of all, Palmer will arrive on campus with an identity.
“Of those Alaska kids at the state tournament that I watched, I liked a lot of them, but he was the only one with a true position,” Rinner said. “I thought Palmer and Justin Kauffman of West were the two that I thought were the most polished basketball players that could actually have a position in college.”
Still, nothing came easy for Palmer even though he looked so confident on the court. Colony coach Tom Berg deserves credit for spending countless hours working with his prized pupil in preparation for the next level.
“They got up together for four years at 5 in the morning three or four days a week and got shots up during the season,” Rinner said. “If Tom doesn’t develop the kid he doesn’t play college basketball, that’s the bottom line.”