Connecting You With AK Athletes – For 10 Years Strong!!

For the last 10 years, the Alaska Sports Blog has provided daily updates on local athletes all over the world. The blog was created Aug. 24, 2009 as a way to fill a void of media coverage of Alaska athletes once they left the 907 area code. Former Anchorage Daily News sports editor and Alaska Press Club award winner Van Williams has been with the blog since the beginning and written more than 4,000 stories on over 1,000 Alaskans.

Follow us on Twitter: @AKsportshall, Instagram: alaska_sports_hall, and Facebook.

Click here to read more about Van Williams and the Alaska Sports Blog.

June 1, 2020

Endurance cyclists Janice Tower, Tyson Flaharty and Lael Wilcox rode to the “Top of the World” over Memorial Day weekend and are the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Athletes of the Week.

Participating in the Giddy Up Challenge, also known as “Everesting”, each cyclist rode the elevation equivalent of Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak at 29,029 feet.

Tower, of Anchorage, completed the 3-mile “Super Potter” climb of Potter Road 23 ½ times in an elapsed time of 17 hours, 40 minutes. Each lap climbed 1,260 feet with an average grade of 7.8 percent. Her vertical gain for the day was 29,638 feet. Tower had various friends keep her company throughout the day.

“One of the best parts of today’s ride were the friends who came out to ride a lap or two with me,” Tower said on Facebook.

The Giddy Up Challenge was a fundraiser for COVID-19 pandemic relief.

Flaharty, of Fairbanks, rode Ester Dome Road, which is mostly unpaved, 17.25 times to gain 29,245 feet of vertical. He rode through the entire night and had a moving time of 14 hours, 36 minutes while covering nearly 140 miles.

“I started last night heading up Ester Dome after work and finished today,” Flaharty wrote on Facebook May 24. “Super hard and glad to be done. Had a bunch of highs and a few low moments. Did not need any lights. I guess it is really full summer now! I found out that 29,029 feet of climbing happens to be a lot.”

Meanwhile, Wilcox, an Anchorage native and one of the world’s best ultra-endurance cyclists, climbed Hatcher Pass Road in Palmer 13 times for 29,541 feet of climbing over 225 miles. She started at 4:45 a.m. and rode for 21 hours straight. Each lap included a nine-mile ascent and descent.

“My favorite part were the laps shared with Christina (Grande) and Rue (Rugile Kaladyte),” Wilcox wrote on Facebook. “The biggest challenge was the final six hours in 37F rain. The best thing I ate were hot instant mashed potatoes after the 11th ascent. What a magnificent place to spend all day climbing.”

The athlete of the week recipient is selected by a panel each Friday and announced Saturday at 11 a.m. on the Sports Guys on CBS Sports Radio 590AM and 96.7FM.

View past winners here.

– By Blog contributor Matias Saari

May 31, 2020

Nathan Yockey

On the basketball court, Nathan Yockey of Coffman Cove wants to utilize his 6-foot-4 frame by getting physical with opponents and pushing his weight around.

This past season the sophomore averaged double figures in scoring at Highline College and this spring signed with Aurora University, a NCAA D3 school in Illinois.

Off the court, Yockey avoids conflict. He loves nature and being secluded in the woods. He writes poetry about life in a small town on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska.

“I try to find deeper meanings in simple things,” he told me.

His work recently was recognized by Highline College’s 2020 Student Poetry Contest as Yockey beat out 50 other students and more than 100 entries to win the $200 first-place prize.

Yockey has long scripted a personal journal but had never entered a writing contest until he took a poetry class. He was urged by his professor Susan Rich to submit his work from the class.

“It was cool to get involved with other poets and get recognized a little bit for writing,” he said, “but I just like to write. It’s not so much about the poetry contest and the money.”

Yockey’s winning poem “Dead Light Switch” was inspired by his family’s modest beginnings of living in a hand-me-down trailer. As his parents began to renovate the home, they left unfixed a light switch that became the focus of his poem.

“It’s kind of representative of the growth, but at the same time, a reminder of the humble beginnings,” Yockey said.

“It was a tribute to my family and all of their hard work and everything they did,” Yockey said. “Growing up, I never realized all the sacrifices they made because our needs were always met. But I didn’t realize how much my parents had to struggle to meet those needs. When I was in college I kind of started to see that being out on my own.”

Yockey loves writing the same way he loves playing basketball and utilizes both hobbies as a release mechanism.

“I kind of have my ying and yang type deal of getting out my emotions and having an outlet to express myself,” he said.

Yockey, of Klawock High fame, started all 27 games as a sophomore at Highline and averaged 11.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists in the NWAC. He scored a season high 27 points.

“I treat basketball like my job. I take it seriously and do the things it takes for my team to win and that’s usually being straightforward, aggressive, confrontational,” he said.

“At home, that’s my more sensitive side; it’s where I’m a little bit more personal. I can’t be soft on the basketball court so I gotta have my two worlds separated because I want to be the best that I can be in both of them.”

May 29, 2020

Emma Lewis

Anchorage tennis player Emma Lewis made her name in doubles at Bowdoin College, but her claim to fame came in singles.

In 2012, she rallied for a thrilling three-set victory in the decisive match to lift Bowdoin to a 5-4 win over Middlebury in the NCAA D3 national tournament.

Lewis, of South High fame, came back to beat Brittney Faber 5-7, 7-6, 6-2 at No. 4 singles.

She lost to Faber at No. 1 doubles earlier in the day, but came through when it mattered most to help Bowdoin reach the elite eight for just the second time in school history.

Lewis also came up clutch in 2014 when her win at No. 1 doubles helped propel Bowdoin to a 5-2 win over Middlebury to get the Polar Bears back to the elite eight.

A hard-hitting ball machine with power and precision, Lewis became the first college player from Alaska to reach 100 career wins and finished with a then-state record of 125 in singles and doubles.

Her 2014 senior season was something special as she posted a 24-7 singles record; her 24 wins rank No. 2 on the school’s all-time list.

Lewis finished her career with a 60-30 record in singles and 65-35 mark in doubles. Her 60 wins in singles rank No. 7 at Bowdoin.

Friday Flashback is a series created by Alaska Sports Hall of Fame blog editor Van Williams that looks back on great Alaska athletes from the past. To read about other Alaskans featured in this series, click here.

May 26, 2020

Even without the benefit of a high school track season, Anchorage’s Tristian Merchant managed to create a title-worthy performance.

The ACS junior broke the nine-minute benchmark in the 3,200 meters at an unofficial time trail with friends.

Merchant is believed to be just the fourth high school runner from Alaska to break the nine-minute mark, crossing the line in 8:59.07.

He joined Don Clary (1974), Trevor Dunbar (2009) and Levi Thomet (2015) in the exclusive club.

The athlete of the week recipient is selected by a panel each Friday and announced Saturday at 11 a.m. on the Sports Guys on CBS Sports Radio 590AM and 96.7FM.

View past winners here.

May 22, 2020

Yohance Humphrey

Eagle River’s Yohance Humphrey put the University of Montana football team on his back in 2001 and carried the Grizzlies to paydirt.

The rugged running back rushed for 132 yards on 30 carries and scored the game’s only touchdown as Montana beat Furman 13-6 in the national championship game of the NCAA DI-AA tournament.

Humphrey, of Chugiak High fame, capped Montana’s 99-yard scoring drive in the second quarter when he plowed into the end zone on a 2-yard run up the middle.

He was the centerpiece on a 15-1 national championship team – a Hall of Fame player on a Hall of Fame squad.

Humphrey was a three-time All-American during his career from 1998-2001 and walked away as the greatest running back in Montana history.

He is the school’s all-time leading rusher with 4,070 career yards and in 2001 set the single-season rushing record with 1,658 yards in 2001.

Humphery set the single-game rushing record with 265 yards against Weber State in 2001 and tied the school record with four rushing touchdowns.

His 138.2 yards on the ground per game average in 2001 is a school record. He averaged 116.1 yards in 1999, which is the second highest average, while his 110.4 average in 2000 is fifth.

Friday Flashback is a series created by Alaska Sports Hall of Fame blog editor Van Williams that looks back on great Alaska athletes from the past. To read about other Alaskans featured in this series, click here.

May 18, 2020

Anchorage’s Pauline Tufi was one of 10 players voted to the Louisiana Tech University all-decade softball team.

The former West High star played four seasons from 2014 to 2017 at LaTech, where she was a three-time Conference USA all-league pick.

Tufi ranks No. 1 all-time among Alaskans at the NCAA D1 level with 35 career home runs and 154 RBIs; she ranks No. 2 in school history in both categories.

She holds the single-season school record with six saves in 2015. She ranks Nos. 4 and 5 in the record book in single-season home runs, clubbing 12 in 2015 and 11 in 2016.

The athlete of the week recipient is selected by a panel each Friday and announced Saturday at 11 a.m. on the Sports Guys on CBS Sports Radio 590AM and 96.7FM.

View past winners here.

May 16, 2020
Gus Schumacher Cross-Country Skiing

Gus Schumacher

Cross-country skier Gus Schumacher of Anchorage reached rarified air after winning the Beck International Trophy.

The award dates to the 1930s is given annually to the U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s top athletes – Schumacher was the men’s winner and alpine star Mikaela Shiffrin of Colorado was the women’s winner.

Schumacher, of Service High fame, is just the third Alaskan to win the honor, joining Alaska Sports Hall of Fame inductees Tommy Moe (1994) and Hilary Lindh (1997).

Teammates honor Schumacher after his historic win at world juniors.

What a year the 19-year-old had on the ski trails in 2020 as he bagged his first senior national championship and became the first American male to win a world junior championship.

In March, he wiped away decades of frustration after he used a killer kick over the final two kilometers to come from behind and snag the gold medal in the 10-K classic race in Germany by 4.5 seconds.

His gold at the U20 international competition is the first-ever medal by an American male at World Juniors.

In January, Schumacher won his first senior title in the 1.5-kilometer sprint and followed up with a silver medal in the 15K freestyle.

May 15, 2020
Nicci Ward

Nicci Ward

Eagle River’s Nicci Ward had it all working for the Villanova University softball team on April 20, 2008.

The senior right-handed pitcher threw a no-hitter in a 1-0 win over Providence College in the Big East Conference.

Ward, of Chugiak High fame, is believed to be the only Alaska softball player to toss a 7-inning no-hitter at the NCAA D1 level.

She struck out eight of 25 batters, issued three walks and benefited from a two-out walkoff double to score the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning.

In the fifth inning, Ward was forced to record four outs after the first batter struck out and reached base on a passed ball. She escaped a two-on, two-out jam that inning with a strikeout.

Ward finished her final season with a 10-9 record, seven complete games and 2.12 ERA in 28 appearances. She struck out 153 batters in 141.2 innings.

She spent her first two years of college at Florida CC Jacksonville, where she was twice named first team all-conference.

Ward was a three-time Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year in high school.

Friday Flashback is a series created by Alaska Sports Hall of Fame blog editor Van Williams that looks back on great Alaska athletes from the past. To read about other Alaskans featured in this series, click here.

May 13, 2020

Pauline Tufi

Louisiana Tech University softball fans certainly haven’t forgotten about Anchorage’s Pauline Tufi.

The former hitting and pitching standout was recently one of 10 players voted to the LaTech all-decade team in an online poll.

“This is an honor of a lifetime to not only represent Tech but to be able to represent my father in heaven and my family he blessed me with,” Tufi told me. “Without their support and constant love, I would not have made it this far. I don’t know who voted but I couldn’t be more proud to just be a nominee.”

Tufi, of West High fame, played four seasons from 2014 to 2017 at LaTech, where she was a three-time Conference USA all-league pick.

She ranks No. 1 all-time among Alaskans at the NCAA D1 level with 35 career home runs and 154 RBIs; she ranks No. 2 in school history in both categories.

“What stands out most is not the plays or the wins and losses but the process of everything, building myself up day in and day out to be the best me possible,” Tufi said. “Yes I struggled, we all do; but I never gave up because I learned the most through my struggles and my failures.

“Watching how my blood, sweat, and tears all came together with one stroke of my bat in our championship game to win our conference in 2017 showed me just how never giving into pain, struggle, or fear and always staying faithful to the process will always bring blessings.

“Talking about ‘Go Big or Go Home’ because everything from the process of my freshman year through my senior year led up to that exact moment in time and I believe everything happens for a reason. It is and always will be about the process with me.”

In 2017, Tufi became Alaska’s all-time home run leader at NCAA D1 level with 35, breaking the previous record of 34 set by Anchorage’s Lillian Bullock at North Carolina A&T.

Tufi is one of the greatest softball players out of Alaska, a two-way terror who had power at the plate and precision in the pitching circle.

She holds the single-season LaTech record with six saves in 2015. She ranks Nos. 4 and 5 in the record book in single-season home runs, clubbing 12 in 2015 and 11 in 2016.

“To be completely honest, I miss playing but not as much as I thought I would,” Tufi said. “My love for the game will never stop; it bleeds in me and will live in me forever but my love for life is greater now.

“Ever since I’ve stopped playing, I’ve found a completely different side of me. Yes, my tenacity, my energy, and my passion are still there. But instead of it growing in softball, it is growing into my life and into my family. I love the blessings time has given me and I couldn’t be more thankful for the time spent on the field for Tech.”

May 11, 2020

Travante Williams of Anchorage was named MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the Portuguese League.

The 6-foot-4 small forward had a fabulous first year with Sporting Lisbon, helping the team go 21-1 before COVID-19 ended the season early.

Williams averaged 17.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 19 games – all career highs while in Portugal. His 2.2 steals matched his career average.

This is his second MVP award in four seasons as a pro, with the first coming in the Georgian League.

The athlete of the week recipient is selected by a panel each Friday and announced Saturday at 11 a.m. on the Sports Guys on CBS Sports Radio 590AM and 96.7FM.

View past winners here.

May 10, 2020

The ‘Alaskan Assassin’ has been picked as the winner of Alaska’s Greatest NCAA D1 Men’s Basketball Player Bracket.

A select group of two dozen Alaska voters who played D1 hoops or coached a D1 player picked Trajan Langdon over Mario Chalmers in a battle between Alaska Sports Hall of Fame guards from Anchorage in the finals of our 64-player bracket.

“He set the standard by which all others are held,” said longtime college coach Louis Wilson of Anchorage. “One of the greatest shooters in the history of modern major college hoops.”

Trajan Langdon

Langdon (East High) was a two-time All-American at Duke; Alaska’s only D1 player to earn All-American honors in multiple seasons. He is the only Alaskan to earn first team all-conference honors three times – in the ACC, no less. He is the only Alaskan to make 100 3s in a season.

“Trajan’s accomplishment of bringing national attention and optimism for future Alaskan players is what sets his career apart from everyone else,” said Fairbanks native Kyle Bailey, who played at Santa Clara.

Langdon left Duke in 1999 but still ranks No. 2 all-time in school history for career 3-pointers (342), career 3-point percentage (.426) and career free-throw percentage (.861).

The 6-foot-3 guard ranks first all-time among Alaskans in games (136), points (1,974) and 3-pointers (342). He’s third in free throws (386), sixth in assists (255) and tenth in steals (120).

“Nobody was more representative of Alaska basketball than Trajan,” said Frank Ostanik, a former college player from Fairbanks who has coached college and high school for two decades.

Langdon became the first Alaskan in 1997 to score 30 points at the D1 level, breaking Muff Butler’s state record of 27 points set in 1982. Langdon is also No. 1 in NCAA Tournament scoring with 158 points, with his tournament scoring highs of 25, 24 and 23 points ranking 1-2-3 among Alaskans.

He helped Duke reach the 1999 NCAA title game, losing to UConn. He was the 1999 East Regional Most Outstanding Player.

Langdon’s win was no slam dunk.

“Mario was equally deserving,” Wilson said.

Mario Chalmers

Chalmers (Bartlett High) had plenty of backers based on his incredible career at Kansas.

“Tons of respect for both of them but with that being said I’m going with Mario,” said Anchorage’s Bentiu Panoam, who plays at North Dakota. “Bartlett over East in that rivalry!”

In 2008, Chalmers cemented his name in Kansas Jayhawk history after hitting one of the biggest shots in NCAA Tournament history.

With his team trailing 63-60 in the final seconds of the national championship game against Memphis, Chalmers pulled up off-the-dribble and drained a 3-pointer with a hand in his face to tie the game with 2.1 seconds left.

The game went into overtime, Kansas won the title and Chalmers was the hero.

“The shot was insane – without a doubt the most clutch shot by any Alaskan,” said Juneau’s Jacob Calloway, who played at Southern Utah. “Maybe the greatest Alaskan spots moment.”

Chalmers was the 2008 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, 2007 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and 2006 Big 12 Tournament MVP.

The 6-foot-1 playmaker was a three-time All-Big 12 selection and three-time Big 12 All-Defensive Team pick. He ranks 1-2-3 among Alaskans in season steals with 2.7, 2.6 and 2.5 averages.

On Alaska’s all-time list, he ranks first in steals (283), second in assists (420), fourth in 3-pointers (180) and sixth in points (1,341). He is tenth in career field-goal percentage (.486) – third among guards.

In the first semifinal, Chalmers just eked out a win over Juneau’s Carlos Boozer. This was as close as it gets; the equivalent of a buzzer beater.

“I know there can’t be a tie so in the end I have to go with the big guy,” said Anchorage’s Phil Jordan, a former championship coach and member of the ASAA Hall of Fame.

Carlos Boozer

The best big man out of Alaska, the 6-foot-9 Boozer was a walking bucket at Duke and still holds the school’s career record for field-goal percentage (.632) – 18 years after he played there.

“I marvel at the reality that after being recruited as a wing player for Duke, he recreated his game to fill a need as a post player and became one of the best ever at the position in the ACC,” said Juneau’s Robert Casperson, a longtime high school coach.

Boozer (Juneau-Douglas High) is one of three Alaskans to earn All-American honors. He was also named All-ACC and ACC All-Freshman Team.

He won a NCAA championship in 2001 and was named ACC Tournament MVP in 2002.

“Boozer had such a dominant junior year shooting 67% from the field and averaging 18 and 9 and a steal a game,” Calloway said. “He was such a dominant force.”

There were people like Jordan, who had Boozer winning the whole thing.

“It got down to Trajan and Carlos. I brought it down to these two not only because of their multiple appearances in the NCAA tournament but because of the class and character they exhibited both on and off the floor,” he said.

Kyle Bailey

In the second semifinal, Langdon beat Kyle Bailey of Fairbanks by unanimous decision.

Bailey (Lathrop High) is the only D1 player from Alaska to accumulate 1,500 points, 500 rebounds, 400 assists, 100 steals and 200 3-pointers in a career.

As a senior in 2004-05, he averaged 26.3 points in three games against top-20 teams. He pumped in 20 points in a win over No. 4 North Carolina and had 26 points in a loss to No. 11 Gonzaga.

He is one of two Alaskans with career highs of at least 30 points and 14 rebounds. He also had eight assists and six 3-pointers, both top-5 all-time for Alaska.

“Bailey was a killer,” Calloway said.

In the end, whether the final featured Langdon vs. Chalmers or Langdon vs. Boozer, Langdon’s impact, influence and impressive accolades surpassed all comers.

“Trajan was Alaska,” Ostanik said. “To this day you would be hard pressed to find anyone who ever said a bad word about Trajan. I also think no player on this list raised the level of his teammates like Trajan.

“While Trajan certainly played on better teams and with better players than the others in this discussion, he was the straw that stirred the drink. While Trajan certainly didn’t have the NBA career of Chalmers or Boozer, but he was in my opinion the greatest Alaskan basketball player I have ever seen and was a dominant NCAA DI player at Duke.

“Trajan wins.”

May 9, 2020
Travante Williams basketball

Travante Williams

Different jersey, same Travante Williams.

Even though the Anchorage native switched teams in the Portuguese League, he maintained his status as the best defender and added another accomplishment: Most Valuable Player.

The 6-foot-4 small forward earned MVP honors for the first time in his three seasons as a professional player in Portugal while winning his third straight Defensive Player of the Year award.

Williams, of Mt. Edgecumbe High fame, had a fabulous first year with Sporting Lisbon, helping the team go 21-1 before COVID-19 ended the season early.

In his three seasons in Portugal, his teams have gone 94-11.

Williams has proven to be the catalyst; whether it was leading Oliveirense to back-to-back Portuguese League championships in 2018 and 2019 or helping Sporting Lisbon assert itself as the top team in 2020.

He averaged 17.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 19 games – all career highs while in Portugal.

His 2.2 steals matched his career average.

In 2017, as a rookie, Williams was named MVP of the Georgian League after averaging a career-best 32.3 points per game and posting his first 50-burger as a pro.

May 6, 2020

A pair of 4-time state wrestling champions and Alaska’s fastest female today were selected as recipients of the 2020 Pride of Alaska Youth Awards.

Anchorage’s Aedyn Concepcion and Bethel’s Hayden Lieb were named co-winners for the boys and Delta Junction track star Hailey Williams was the girls winner.

In addition, the Houston High football team was named the winner of the Trajan Langdon Youth Award.

The winners were announced by Alaska Sports Hall of Fame executive director Harlow Robinson via Facebook Live.

Aeydan Concepcion

PRIDE OF ALASKA YOUTH AWARD
BOYS CO-WINNER

Aedyn Concepcion, Anchorage – The South High wrestler captured his fourth straight individual championship to join an elite group of 14 Alaska boys who have achieved a four-peat. He became the first from South to do so with a 7-1 decision over a Wasilla wrestler in the 119-pound division. The senior also won his fourth straight Cook Inlet Conference title and lost only two matches in his four-year career. Concepcion was selected a Wrestling USA All-American and named to the Academic Team. He has signed with Gardner-Webb in North Carolina.

Hayden Lieb

BOYS CO-WINNER
Hayden Lieb, Bethel – Hayden added his name to an exclusive club of 14 Alaska boys who won four state titles in high school. He also won three more team championships for Bethel High. The 3-time All-American finished his career with a 139-12 record and signed with NCAA D1 Wyoming. In his final match at the 2019 state championships, Lieb defeated a Petersburg wrestler 15-0 at 160 pounds to help Bethel take a narrow victory over Glennallen. He was twice named ASAA D2 Outstanding Wrestler and this year was the only Alaska named the Wrestling USA Senior All-American team.

Hailey Williams

PRIDE OF ALASKA YOUTH AWARD
GIRLS WINNER

Hailey Williams, Delta Junction – Williams was Gatorade Alaska Track & Field Girls Player of the Year – the first Gatorade honors for Delta High in any sport. As a junior, she swept the 100-, 200- and 400-meter races at the Alaska D2 state championships. Later that summer she placed fifth in 200 and 12th in the 100 at New Balance Nationals. Her senior year was canceled due to COVID-19. As a sophomore, she became the first Alaska girl in 37 years to break the 12-second barrier in the 100. She maintained an A average in the classroom and won seven state titles on the track. She has signed with NCAA D1 Duke.

Houston Hawks

TRAJAN LANGDON YOUTH AWARD
WINNER

Houston High School Football Team –After a year of fires and earthquakes, Houston rose above it all and won the D3 state championship. The Hawks completed a perfect 10-0 season for the first time in school history with a 41-8 victory over Barrow at Anchorage Football Stadium, avenging a semifinal loss to the Whalers the previous year. Houston finished the year averaging 42 points a game while only allowing 7.

May 5, 2020

Daishen Nix of Anchorage was one of three players nationally to be accepted into the prestigious NBA G League professional pathway program.

His choice not to attend UCLA and instead cash in on a six-figure contract sent shock waves throughout the college basketball world. The next day the NCAA signaled it would take measures to allow student-athletes to get paid for third-party endorsements.

The 6-foot-5 McDonald’s All-American is a consensus five-star high school recruit and ranked as one of the top point guards in the country.

Nix was raised in Anchorage before his family moved in 2016 to Las Vegas, where he played for Trinity High. He always considered Alaska home and regularly wore promotional gear under his high school jersey to show his state pride.

The athlete of the week recipient is selected by a panel each Friday and announced Saturday at 11 a.m. on the Sports Guys on CBS Sports Radio 590AM and 96.7FM.

View past winners here.

May 4, 2020

The 100 Miles in May Bonus Challenge this April came at a perfect time to motivate Amy Reed in Anchorage and the Bjornstad family in northern Norway.

“I was so excited to have a goal to work towards in April when it seemed like the world was shutting down and all the races were canceled or postponed,” said Reed, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bjornstads learned about the Challenge — where participants log various types of physical activity and through conversion formulas are credited with miles exercised — from Alaskan Olympic skier Sadie Bjornsen, as Per-Erik Bjornstad is among her wax technicians on the World Cup circuit.

“We do exercise a lot, but the competitive spirit made us extra motivated,” said 15-year Erling, the captain of Team Bjornstad.

The Bjornstads

In the end, Team Bjornstad (parents Per-Erik and Ann Strand and sons Brage and Erling) placed second among 286 teams (minimum two members) with 363 average miles per participant. They narrowly trailed only the Deal Bro’s (Cole, Conor and Brady Deal), who averaged 365 miles.

In the individual rankings, Reed logged 614 miles, the most among women and second only to Chad Trammell (624). In the three completed challenges, Reed has piled up 1,861 miles, likely more than any other participant.

The April Bonus Challenge ended on April 30 and leaderboards were reset May 1 for the 4th edition of the 100 Miles in May Challenge.

In April, 2,398 participants logged 283,582 total miles, and 1,277 of them (53 percent) achieved 100 or more miles.

AWWU Clearly in Motion was the most productive team, logging 6,432 miles among its 55 members.

100 Miles in May is a fundraiser for the nonprofit Healthy Futures, whose mission is to empower Alaska’s youth to build the daily habit of physical activity.

Reed and the Bjornstads logged their miles in very different ways.

Reed at the 2019 Boston Marathon

Reed, a pediatric nurse at Providence Hospital, focused on indoor workouts such as spinning classes, treadmill running, elliptical training and HIIT sessions (High Intensity Interval Training). By mixing in occasional walks, frisbee throwing and housework, she tallied even more miles and charted up to six entries in a single day.

“The 100 Miles Challenge ‘challenged’ me to write everything down, which I don’t normally do,” Reed said in an email. “The pandemic didn’t change my physical training much at all, because I run inside on my treadmill and use the (stationary) bike.”

The Bjornstads, who live well north of the Arctic Circle in Alta, mostly Nordic and backcountry skied, with occasional core and crossfit workouts and even fishing outings.

“My brother and I can’t train with our local ski teams (due to the pandemic),” Erling said via email. “However, our city is small and we have endless nature surrounding us. We have been on lots of ski trips together as a family.”

Skiing in Northern Norway

The Bjornstads, minus Ann, made a final effort on April 30 to catch the Deal Bro’s, as they skied nearly five hours (and logged 38 miles each) on the Finnmark Plateau from Alta to their cabin in Kvaenangen.

“O’boy the dinner was good that day,” Erling said. “It was just not enough (to win the competition), but we gave our best, and it was fun.”

Erling and 19-year-old Brage are up for joining the May Challenge but their parents need a break. “Per-Erik has broken a rib, and my mother is exhausted,” Erling said.

Meanwhile, Reed has not missed a stride as she stays in shape for the Boston Marathon, which was postponed from April to September. She’s logged 17 workouts the first four days of the May Challenge and ranks third overall – and top woman — with 79 miles.

-By Matias Saari, Alaska Sports Blog Contributor

May 3, 2020

Our 64-player bracket to determine Alaska’s Greatest NCAA D1 Men’s Basketball Player has reached the final four.

The Big 3 + 1.

Mario Chalmers of Anchorage, Carlos Boozer of Juneau, Trajan Langdon of Anchorage and Kyle Bailey of Fairbanks.

When it comes to the greatest D1 players from Alaska, these are the faces that make up Alaska’s Mount Rushmore.

Boozer, Chalmers and Langdon were locks to make the final four.

The coveted fourth spot was up for grabs between a handful of all-stars like Muff Butler, Damen Bell-Holter and Chris Devine.

Bailey, however, was a one-of-a-kind college player from the 49th state, arguably the most versatile.

That’s not an exaggeration. Bailey is the only D1 player from Alaska to accumulate 1,500 points, 500 rebounds, 400 assists, 100 steals and 200 3-pointers in a career. His footprint was impossible to ignore.

This story breaks down all four matchups in the elite eight and details decisions made by Alaska Sports Hall of Fame blog editor Van Williams, who created the bracket and picked the first four rounds.

Moving forward, however, Williams will not pick the final two rounds and instead get votes from group of former and current D1 Alaska players, and Alaska coaches who coached D1 players.

Together, the group will determine who is Alaska’s Greatest NCAA D1 Men’s Basketball Player.

Here is how the elite eight played out:

ELITE EIGHT ROUND
2 Kyle Bailey (Santa Clara) d. 1 Damen Bell-Holter (Oral Roberts)

Nobody remembers the fourth Musketeer.

That’s Bailey.

Kyle Bailey

It’s time to put some respect on his name. Bailey put up big-time numbers over his four-year career at Santa Clara, earned national respect and bounced back from a knee injury to play his best basketball as a senior.

Bailey (Lathrop High) epitomizes Alaska’s overlooked status – a small-conference guy from a not-so-big school.

But dude got down at Santa Clara.

As a senior in 2004-05, he averaged 26.3 points in three games against top-20 teams. He pumped in 20 points in a win over No. 4 North Carolina and had 26 points in a loss to No. 11 Gonzaga.

He is one of two Alaskans with career highs of at least 30 points and 14 rebounds. He also had eight assists and six 3-pointers, both top-5 all-time for Alaska.

To get a sense of Bailey, watch this video clip.

The two-time All-West Coast Conference player is Alaska’s all-time assists leader and ranks in the top-5 in a bunch of categories.

Bailey is fourth in games (127), third in points (1,571), sixth in rebounds (513), first in assists (452), second in steals (166), second in 3-pointers (225) and fifth in free throws (342).

Even though Bailey is a 2 seed and Bell-Holter a 1 seed, this was barely an upset. The players were virtually tied in the 64-man player rankings, separated by just one spot.

Bell-Holter was a double-double machine at Oral Roberts and tops Alaska’s all-time list in rebounds.

Damen Bell-Holter

The 6-foot-9 forward posted 25 double-doubles in his final 95 games and averaged 15.5 points and 9.7 rebounds as a senior in the 2012-13 season. He was named All-Summit League in 2011 and All-Southland Conference in 2013.

His career-high 35 points rank No. 3 for an Alaskan and his career-high 20 rebounds are No. 1. He often cleaned the glass and had other games with 17, 15, 14 (4 times) and 13 (5 times) boards.

Bell-Holter (Ketchikan High) ranks sixth all-time among Alaska at the D1 level in games (119), fifth in points (1,389), first in rebounds (878), third in blocked shots (139), fourth in free throws (377).

ELITE EIGHT ROUND
1 Carlos Boozer (Duke) d. 2 Chris Devine (Santa Barbara)

The best big man out of Alaska, Boozer was a walking bucket.

The crafty 6-foot-9 power forward still holds Duke’s career record for field-goal percentage (.632) – 18 years after he played.

Carlos Boozer

Boozer (Juneau-Douglas High) is one of three Alaskans to earn All-American honors. He was also named All-ACC and ACC All-Freshman Team.

He won a NCAA championship in 2001 and was named ACC Tournament MVP in 2002.

As a junior in 2001-02, Boozer averaged 18.2 points and 8.7 rebounds. His scoring average is tied for No. 1 among Alaskans and his rebounds average ranks No. 2.

To check out Boozer in action, watch this video clip.

Boozer is first all-time among Alaskans in field-goal percentage (.632), second in rebounds (724), second in free throws (398), sixth in scoring (1,506) and sixth in blocked shots (72).

His career highs were 33 points and 13 rebounds.

Boozer played in 10 NCAA Tournament games and ranks third among Alaskans with 127 points. He is one of two Alaskans to collect double-doubles in the Big Dance but the only one to do it twice, including a 12-point, 12-rebound effort against Arizona in the 2001 title game.

Devine is Alaska’s lone four-time all-conference selection in a D1 league and one of two Alaskans to average double figures in scoring for four seasons.

Chris Devine

The 6-foot-8 forward is also one of only three Alaskans to collect season highs of at least 29 points and 14 rebounds. He is the state’s record holder with 400 career free throws.

Devine (Chugiak High) set a Santa Barbara freshman records for points (355) and is one of two players in school history to earn All-Big West Conference honors four consecutive seasons from 2006 to 2009. He was named to the Gauchos Team of the Decade.

He ranks No. 2 all-time among Alaskans with 1,607 career points. He’s sixth in games (119), third in rebounds (723), fifth in field-goal percentage (.525) and eighth in steals (130).

ELITE EIGHT ROUND
1 Trajan Langdon (Duke) d. 3 Muff Butler (New Orleans)

Butler might be the godfather of Alaska basketball, but Langdon was a god at Duke.

One of the greatest jump shooters in NCAA history, Langdon was dubbed ‘The Alaskan Assassin’ by Hall of Fame broadcaster Dick Vitale. His college career in the 1990s probably did more to put Alaska on the map than any other player.

Trajan Langdon

He left Duke in 1999, but still ranks No. 2 all-time in school history for career 3-pointers (342), career 3-point percentage (.426) and career free-throw percentage (.861).

Langdon (East High) is Alaska’s only two-time All-American. He is the only Alaskan to earn first team all-conference honors three times – in the ACC, no less. He is the only Alaskan to make 100 3s in a season.

To watch Langdon do his thing, check out this video clip.

The 6-foot-3 guard ranks first all-time among Alaskans in games (136), points (1,974) and 3-pointers (342). He’s third in free throws (386), sixth in assists (255) and tenth in steals (120).

When it comes to the NCAA Tournament, Langdon is tied for first among Alaskans with 11 appearances and he’s No. 1 with 158 points. His tournament scoring highs of 25, 24 and 23 points ranks 1-2-3 among Alaskans.

He helped Duke reach the 1999 NCAA title game, losing to UConn. He was the 1999 East Regional Most Outstanding Player.

Langdon was the first Alaskan to score 30 points at the D1 level in 1997, when he broke Butler’s state record of 27 points set in 1982.

Butler was the first household name to come out of the state, a sensational scorer and defender who still resonates with Alaskans 40 years later.

Muff Butler

The 6-foot-1 guard played two seasons at New Orleans, scoring 681 points. He ranks eighth all-time among Alaskans with 240 assists. His 90 steals are top-15.

Butler (East High) still holds the Alaska single-season assist record set all the way back in 1981-82 when he averaged 5.5 per game for New Orleans. No Alaskan has averaged even 5 since then.

The Privateers had a 41-15 record in two seasons with Butler.

Butler’s career .558 field-goal percentage ranks No. 3 all-time among Alaskans – No. 1 among guards. Remember that he played before the 3-pointer was added to the game.

ELITE EIGHT ROUND
1 Mario Chalmers (Kansas) d. 3 Devon Bookert (Florida State)

When you think of Chalmers, you think of ‘The Shot.’

Mario Chalmers

In 2008, he cemented his name in Kansas Jayhawk history after hitting one of the biggest shots in NCAA Tournament history.

With his team trailing 63-60 in the final seconds of the national championship game against Memphis, Chalmers pulled up off-the-dribble and drained a 3-pointer with a hand in his face to tie the game with 2.1 seconds left.

The game went into overtime, Kansas won the title and Chalmers was the hero.

To watch Chalmers hit the big shot, watch this video clip.

That shot capped a captivating college career.

Chalmers (Bartlett High) was the 2008 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, 2007 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and 2006 Big 12 Tournament MVP.

He ranks No. 2 all-time among Alaskans with 150 points in the NCAA Tournament. He is tied for first with 11 appearances, leading KU to a 9-2 record in those games.

The 6-foot-1 Chalmers was a three-time All-Big 12 selection and three-time Big 12 All-Defensive Team pick. He ranks 1-2-3 among Alaskans in season steals with 2.7, 2.6 and 2.5 averages.

His career highs were 30 points, eight assists and seven steals.

On Alaska’s all-time list, he ranks first in steals (283), second in assists (420), fourth in 3-pointers (180) and sixth in points (1,341). He is tenth in career field-goal percentage (.486), No. 3 among guards.

Bookert had a knack for making big shots and ranks first among Alaskans in NIT appearances (8) and points (60) for Florida State.

Devon Bookert Basketball

Devon Bookert

He took over the 2014 NIT, producing a 21-point, 9-assist effort to help FSU beat Georgetown in the second round and then scoring seven points in the final 21 seconds of regulation, including a game-tying, buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the top of the key to force overtime against Minnesota in the semifinals.

Bookert (West High) was especially clutch and had two game-winners to his credit.

The 6-foot-3 guard became the first player in FSU history to shoot better than 50 percent from 3-point land. He still holds the school record for single-season 3-point percentage (.525) and ranks third for career percentage (.419).

On the all-time list among Alaskans, Bookert ranks third in games (131), tenth in points (1,120), fourth in assists (347), fifth in steals (139) and third in 3s (188).

May 1, 2020
Nick Mystrom football

Nick Mystrom

The state of Alaska has never seen a football player quite like Anchorage’s Nick Mystrom.

A Swiss-Army-Knife-type player at Colorado College, he turned his attention to kicking in 1995 when he signed with the Memphis Mad Dogs of the Canadian Football League.

The Mad Dogs turned to an unknown rookie a few games into the season to replace injured or ineffective kickers. It was a daring move by Memphis, but Mystrom kicked to the curb any concerns about his ability to kick at the pro level.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder was named to the CFL All-Rookie Team after converting 37-of-47 field goals and all 18 PATs in 13 games.

He booted a game-winning, 37-yard field goal inside the final minute to lift Memphis to a 22-21 win over Shreveport.

He hit on all six field goals, including a career-best 51-yarder, to lead the Mad Dogs to a 26-7 win over Ottawa.

He kicked four field goals in a 28-19 win over Birmingham.

Memphis finished the season with a 9-9 record, including a 7-6 mark with Mystrom in uniform.

Mystrom, of West High fame, was the first of the four Alaskans who have played in the CFL. He’s the state’s all-time leading scorer in the league with 137 points.

He played at Colorado College from 1989 to 1993, earning snaps at multiple positions from kicker to wide receiver and quarterback. Mystrom remains the school’s all-time scoring leader for season (101) and career (263).

Friday Flashback is a series created by Alaska Sports Hall of Fame blog editor Van Williams that looks back on great Alaska athletes from the past. To read about other Alaskans featured in this series, click here.

April 30, 2020

Our 64-player bracket to determine Alaska’s Greatest NCAA D1 Men’s Basketball Player is down to the quarterfinals.

Alaska’s elite eight.

Four guards from Anchorage – Mario Chalmers, Muff Butler, Devon Bookert and Trajan Langdon.

Another guard from Fairbanks – Kyle Bailey.

And three power forwards – Chris Devine from Eagle River, Carlos Boozer from Juneau and Damen Bell-Holter from Hydaburg.

The bracket gets only harder to pick from here on out. Every player is a heavyweight. No easy knockouts with this group.

Here is a quick look at how we got to this point:

Click here to read about all 64 players.
Click here to read about the first round.
Click here to read about the second round.

Now let’s get to the elite eight:

SWEET 16 ROUND
1 Mario Chalmers (Kansas) d. 5 Damon Sherman-Newsome (Colgate)
3 Devon Bookert (Florida State) d. 2 Nick Billings (Binghamton)

3 Bookert vs. 2 Billings
If there was a possibility of a buzzer beater, this was the matchup. And Bookert was the player to pull it off.

Decon Bookert Basketball

Devon Bookert

The 6-foot-3 guard was an especially clutch player for Florida State, hitting two game-winning shots and sending another game to overtime with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden.

Bookert (West High) never wilted under the bright lights.

He scored a career-high 23 points against Duke. He became the first player in FSU history to shoot better than 50 percent from 3-point land. He is Alaska’s most prolific playmaker when it comes to the NIT.

Bookert ranks first among Alaskans in NIT appearances (8) and points (60). He took over the 2014 tournament, producing a 21-point, 9-assist effort to help FSU beat Georgetown in the second round and then hitting the biggest shot of his life in the semifinals against Minnesota.

In that game, he scored seven points in the final 21 seconds of regulation, including a game-tying, buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the top of the key to force overtime at MSG. He had a knack for making big shots.

In 2013, Bookert made a 10-foot fadeaway jumper to beat the buzzer and Northeastern 62-60 in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. In 2014, he was credited with the winning bucket after his 3-point air ball was accidentally tipped in by a Florida player on the final play of a 65-63 win.

“He’s a guy that if a fight breaks out you want him on the other side of you because he is going to be there to the end,” his college coach Leonard Hamilton said. “And then on Sunday morning, he is going to pick your daughter up and take her to church.”

Bookert still holds the FSU record for single-season 3-point percentage (.525) and ranks third for career percentage (.419).

On the all-time list among Alaskans, Bookert ranks third in games (131), tenth in points (1,120), fourth in assists (347), fifth in steals (139) and third in 3s (188).

Nick Billings

Billings (Kodiak High) might just be the most dominate Alaskan as his center position. His 336 blocked shots are more than the No. 2 and No. 3 Alaskans combined.

The 7-footer is one of two Alaskans to have his career highs equal a triple-double: 25 points, 14 rebounds, 10 blocked shots. He actually blocked 10 shots three different times for Binghamton and averaged 4.3 blocks per game as a freshman.

Billings was the American East Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2003 and twice named all-league. He ranks fourth among Alaskans with 598 career rebounds and a .497 field-goal percentage in 107 games.

SWEET 16 ROUND
1 Carlos Boozer (Juneau) d. 4 Colter Lasher (Houston Baptist)
2 Chris Devine (Santa Barbara) d. 3 Andre Laws (San Diego)

2 Devine vs. 3 Laws
Devine was part of the Santa Barbara program for six seasons after missing the first two years with knee injuries. Once cleared for takeoff, he flew higher than most players from the 907.

Chris Devine

The 6-foot-8 forward is Alaska’s lone four-time all-conference selection in a D1 league and one of two Alaskans to average double figures in scoring for four seasons.

Devine (Chugiak High) is also one of only three Alaskans to collect season highs of at least 29 points and 14 rebounds. He is the state’s record holder with 400 career free throws.

“Chris was a warrior,” his college coach Bob Williams said. “He was a great defender, a very, very good inside-out scorer and he is the most physical player on this team. He always did whatever we asked him to do and then some. One of the hardest workers we’ve had in the program.”

Devine set a Santa Barbara freshman records for points (355) and is one of two players in school history to earn All-Big West Conference honors four consecutive seasons from 2006 to 2009. He was named to the Gauchos Team of the Decade.

He ranks No. 2 all-time among Alaskans with 1,607 career points. He’s sixth in games (119), third in rebounds (723), fifth in field-goal percentage (.525) and eighth in steals (130).

His 15.5-point scoring average in the 2008-2009 season is tied for No. 5 among Alaskans at the D1 level. He ranks No. 23 in Big West Conference history with 592 career field goals.

Andre Laws

Laws (East High) shares the state’s highest single-season scoring average at 18.3 points per game as a senior in 2001-02 with San Diego.

The 6-foot-1 guard ranks No. 2 in single-game points (36) and No. 7 in career points (1,337) in state history. He also ranks in the top-10 all-time among Alaskans with 144 steals (4th), 246 assists (7th) and 139 3-pointers (T-9th) in 114 games.

Laws was a three-time All-West Coast Conference selection and one of nine Alaskans to average double figures in scoring for three seasons at the D1 level.

SWEET 16 ROUND
1 Trajan Langdon (Duke) d. 4. Roderick Wilmont (Indiana)
3 Muff Butler (New Orleans) d. 2 Jason Erickson (Montana State)

3 Buter vs. 2 Erickson
The first household name to come out of the state in the 1980s, Butler is widely considered the godfather of Alaska basketball.

Muff Butler

“He is the standard that every great modern-day Alaska high school player measures themselves against,” said longtime college coach and former East High standout Louis Wilson. “Way before his time.

“He is an Alaska basketball legend.”

Butler (East High) still holds the Alaska single-season assist record set all the way back in 1981-82 when he averaged 5.5 per game for New Orleans. No Alaskan has averaged even 5 since then.

The Privateers had a 41-15 record in two seasons with Butler.

The 6-foot-1 guard played two seasons at New Orleans, scoring 681 points. He ranks eighth all-time among Alaskans with 240 assists. His 90 steals are top-15.

Butler’s career .558 field-goal percentage ranks No. 3 all-time among Alaskans – No. 1 among guards. Remember that he played before the 3-pointer was added to the game.

He averaged 12.3 points in 1982-83 and 12.0 points in 1981-82. In addition to having the best assist year at 5.5, he also ranks tenth at 3.5 assists in 1982-83.

“Elite defender,” Wilson said. “Impossible to stay in front of and an absolute basketball killer.”

Jason Erickson

Erickson (Chugiak High) was an All-American in 2002 and is the only player in Montana State history to win Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year and Big Sky Conference Player of the Year.

The 6-foot-3 guard was a three-time All-Big Sky selection and still holds the school record for career steals (162) and ranks third in career 3-point percentage (.434).

He poured in 1,227 points in 112 career games to rank No. 9 all-time among Alaskans. He ranks third in steals and sixth in 3s (157). His career high for scoring was 30 points and his 17.3 points per game average is tied for third-best among Alaskans.

SWEET 16 ROUND
1 Damen Bell-Holter (Oral Roberts) d. 4 Tony Reed (Montana)
2 Kyle Bailey (Santa Clara) d. 3 Doron Perkins (Santa Clara)

1 Bell-Holter v. 4 Reed
Bell-Holter was a double-double machine at Oral Roberts and tops Alaska’s all-time list in rebounds.

Damen Bell-Holter

The 6-foot-9 forward posted 25 double-doubles in his final 95 games and averaged 15.5 points and 9.7 rebounds as a senior in the 2012-13 season.

Bell-Holter (Ketchikan High) was All-Summit League in 2011 and All-Southland Conference in 2013.

His career-high 35 points rank No. 3 for an Alaskan and his career-high 20 rebounds are No. 1. He often cleaned the glass and had other games with 17, 15, 14 (4 times) and 13 (5 times) boards.

During a six-game stretch in 2013, Bell-Holter averaged 23.1 points and 13 rebounds. That might be the most dominating stretch for any Alaskan at the D1 level. Two games really stand out – his 36-point, 14-rebound effort against Southeastern Louisiana and his 25-point, 20-rebound performance against Northwestern State.

“Damen’s interior size and strength created headaches for opponents,” said longtime high school coach Robert Casperson of Juneau. “He continued to improve beyond his time in high school and ended up having an impressive career.”

Bell-Holter ranks sixth all-time among Alaska in games (119), fifth in points (1,389), first in rebounds (878), third in blocked shots (139), fourth in free throws (377).

Tony Reed

Reed (East High) scored 938 points and dished 339 assists in 120 games with Montana. The 6-foot-2 playmaker was a pure point guard with a nice touch around the basket.

He ranks fifth all-time among Alaskans in assists. He also ranks sixth on the single-season assist list with 3.9 in 1988-89 and 13th with 3.2 in 1987-88.

His .492 career field-goal percentage ranks No. 8 all-time among Alaskans, No. 2 among guards. His career highs were 25 points and seven assists.

April 28, 2020

Daishen Nix

Just like one of his patented stop-and-go moves on the basketball court, Daishen Nix of Anchorage switched gears with his decision to skip college and sign with the NBA G League professional pathway program.

His choice not to attend UCLA and instead cash in on a six-figure contract sent shock waves throughout the college basketball world. Nix is the third major recruit this month to pick playing in the NBA’s developmental league over a one-and-done year in the NCAA.

“Going to the NBA was always a dream and going to the G League will help me get ready for the NBA,” Nix told me. “I always knew it was an option. My family and me, we’ve been talking about it but I just now chose to do it.”

The 6-foot-5 Nix is a consensus five-star high school recruit and arguably the best point guard in the country. This season, the McDonald’s All-American was named co-MVP of the prestigious Grind Session alongside prep school star Jalen Green, who also opted into the G League pathway program.

Was Nix trying to send a message to the NCAA?

“Not at all,” he said. “I just wanted to be close to the NBA.”

Nix will become the fifth Alaskan to play in the G League, joining Ramon Harris, Damen Bell-Holter, Devon Bookert and Jalil Abdul-Bassit.

Nix at the Alaska Airlines Classic


The players in the pathway program will join an inaugural G League select team that will not play a full season or be affiliated with any NBA franchise.

Instead, they will train with NBA staff and get a chance to scrimmage G League teams and NBA academy squads from around the world.

“I will be playing against guys that have already been to the NBA and guys trying to go the NBA,” Nix said. “This will get me ready for the draft.”

Nix will be eligible for the 2021 NBA draft and is projected by some to be a first-round pick. Had the NBA allowed 18-year-olds to go directly from high school to the pros, he said he probably would have declared for this summer’s draft.

As it was, going to the G League felt like the next best thing.

“Going to the G League was best for me,” he said.

Nix is a total-package floor general with hard-to-guard handles, killer court vision and a lavish layup package. Throw in size and strength and he’s confident his game will translate well to the next level.

“I think because I’m a bigger guard it’ll be easy for me,” Nix said. “I’m bigger than every point guard that’s been playing in the league.”

Nix hasn’t signed with an agent, and instead will have his mom Mina and high school coach Greg Lockridge will represent him.

“They are pretty much behind me with everything,” he said. “We’re still in our little group.”

In 2016, Mina moved her family to Las Vegas to better increase her son’s exposure to elite youth basketball. He played all four years for Lockridge at Trinity International, which won the 2020 Alaska Airlines Classic at West High in a homecoming for Nix.

Nix regularly rocked Alaska gear under his Trinity jersey, a Rage City shoutout for the whole world to see.

“Everybody is looked at like an outsider coming from Alaska,” Nix said. “People try to say I’m from Vegas, but I don’t claim that I’m from Vegas because I want to be an outside and that’s what people claim Alaska to be.”

April 27, 2020
Alissa Pili basketball

Alissa Pili

The women’s basketball tradition at the University of Southern California is so historic HBO made a documentary about it.

They should have saved room for Alissa Pili of Anchorage.

Based on her remarkable rookie season, it’s no exaggeration to call the powerful 6-foot All-Pac-12 forward the next great player for the Women of Troy.

Pili gave USC its first Pac-12 Freshman of the Year since 2009 and just the second since 1994.

She also scored the most points for a USC freshman in 29 years and finished fourth all-time in freshman scoring average, joining a list of legendary names.

USC Freshman Scoring Record
20.4 Cheryl Miller 1983
20.0 Paula McGee 1981
19.4 Lisa Leslie 1991
16.3 Alissa Pili 2020
14.9 Pam McGee 1981

“My stats, they were good for a freshman but that’s not what I was aiming towards. I was aiming for the bigger things,” Pili told me. “I don’t care that I’m a freshman. I knew I could do all of this.”

Pili, of Dimond High fame, was a 4-time Pac-12 Freshman of the Week. She bagged 11 double-doubles in 31 games and put up season highs of 32 points and 17 rebounds – joining Kelsey Griffin and Ruthy Hebard (both WNBA first-round draft picks) as the only Alaska women to post 30 & 15 at the D1 level.

“Knowing I was going against some of the top players in the nation, some of the top teams in the nation … we were kind of the underdogs and so going into every game, I don’t care who I’m playing against; I don’t care who I’m guarding; I don’t care who is guarding me. I’m just gonna go out there and play my game and not let anything stop me. That was my mindset.”

Going from the Cook Inlet Conference to the Pac-12 Conference was a giant leap in competition, but Pili made it look seamless. She finished seventh in the Pac-12 in scoring (16.3), fifth in field-goal percentage (.511), seventh in free-throw attempts (4.4) and fifth in rebounds (8.0).

“After conference started, that’s when I started to get a feel for where I fit in and what I need to do to help my team win,” Pili said. “I just trusted the process. I was getting frustrated at the beginning of the year because it started off slow for me. Trusting my coaches, trusting my teammates and trusting myself, I think I had to be patient and wait for my time to come.”

USC finished 17-14 on the season and lost to No. 8 UCLA in the second round of the Pac-12 Conference Tournament.

“In conference, we gotta bring our A-game. We gotta play as hard as we can every single game because the competition is crazy,” she said. “Every game is going to be a tough battle and I think just having that mindset before every game was something that stood out and something I had to do to prepare for every game.”

There were many nights when the 18-year-old Pili overpowered opponents in the Pac-12 just like she did in Alaska, where she set a Class 4A girls all-time scoring record with 2,614 career points.

Even in college, it was common to see defenders with no clue how to stop Pili’s skills, speed and strength.

“I don’t really try to compare myself to any other players and people haven’t really tried to compare me to anybody else,” she said. “I have my own unique style of play.”

Ava Earl of Girdwood was named our Alaska Athlete of the Week for her efforts to help keep high school athletes motivated and active during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With high school spring sports canceled, the South Anchorage High School running and skiing standout decided to get proactive.  A junior from Girdwood, Earl signed up for the Healthy Futures 100 Miles in May Challenge, which created a “bonus” month in April, and put the challenge out to other high schoolers around the state.

“I was not the only one who was bummed not to be able to race track, so I thought this was an awesome idea,” said Earl.

Her team, Ava’s Domination Squad has 37 members and has logged 4,792 miles of activity, first among all 163 teams entered.  And thanks to the momentum created by her massive outreach effort, dozens of high school teams and hundreds of students across Alaska are racking up huge miles while enjoying a friendly competition.

The athlete of the week recipient is selected by a panel each Friday and announced Saturday at 11 a.m. on the Sports Guys on CBS Sports Radio 590AM and 96.7FM.

View past winners here.

April 26, 2020

During the COVID-19 outbreak Alaska Sports Blog editor Van Williams will take the opportunity to take a retrospective look at Alaska sports.

Just like with the NCAA Tournament, survive and advance is the name of the game in our 64-player bracket to determine Alaska’s Greatest NCAA D1 Men’s Basketball Player.

The second round in this mythical tournament saw several head-to-head matchups come down to the wire – like whoever-has-the-ball-last-wins type close.

In some cases, stats settled the debate. Other times the stats were so similar that the decision came down to other factors like impact, influence, records and awards.

No choice was a slam dunk.

Comparing players at different positions from different eras with virtually the same stats takes precision. There are few snap decisions.

Matchups are analyzed thoroughly, the information scrutinized as to best determine who moves on to the next round.

Click here to read about all 64 players.
Click here to read about the first round.

Let’s dive into the second round as the field dwindles to the Sweet 16:

SECOND ROUND
1 Damen Bell-Holter (Oral Roberts) d. 9. Mark Schweigert (Southern Utah)
2 Kyle Bailey (Santa Clara) d. 10 Vante Hendrix (New Mexico)
3 Doron Perkins (Santa Clara) d. 6 Marcus Watts (McNeese State & Florida Gulf Coast)
4 Tony Reed (Montana) d. 5 Will Egolf (Bradley)

Tony Reed

4 Reed vs. 5 Egolf
Fewer than a half dozen Alaskans had played at the D1 level when Reed arrived at Montana in the fall of 1985. Thirty-five years later, his name still resonates.

The 6-foot-2 playmaker was a pure point guard with a nice touch around the basket. He grew up without a 3-point line so he scored on mid-range jumpers and getting to the rim.

His .492 career field-goal percentage ranks No. 8 all-time among Alaskans, No. 2 among guards. His career highs were 25 points and seven assists.

Reed (East High) scored 938 points and dished 339 assists in 120 games. His career assist total ranks No. 5 among Alaskans. He also ranks sixth on the single-season assist list with 3.9 in 1988-89 and 13th with 3.2 in 1987-88.

He was part of the Holy Trinity at East – Muff Buter in the 1970s, Tony Reed in the 1980s, Trajan Langdon in the 1990s – that changed Alaska basketball forever.

Will Egolf

The 6-foot-9 Egolf is one of the best big men to ever come out of Southeast Alaska, joining former pros Carlos Boozer of Juneau and Damen Bell-Holter of Hydaburg; both 1 seeds in this bracket.

Egolf (Juneau-Douglas High) excelled at Bradley, where he put up 823 points and 468 rebounds in 117 games. His best season came as a senior in 2012-13 when he averaged 10.0 points and 5.5 boards.

On the all-time list among Alaskans, he ranks No. 5 in blocked shots (79), No. 9 in rebounds, 13th in FG% (.456) and 16th in steals (81).

Egolf’s single-game highs were 22 points and 12 rebounds.

Doron Perkins

3 Perkins vs. 6 Watts
After breaking his leg as a senior in high school, Perkins had no interest from D1 schools. After a Hall-of-Fame career at Southwestern Oregon CC, Santa Clara was one of the few D1 schools that had interest.

What he did in two seasons was nothing short of spectacular as he emerged as one of the most explosive players from Alaska.

Perkins (Bartlett High) amassed 904 points in 63 games, the most for a two-year D1 guy from the 907. His 6.0 rebounds per game average is the best for a guard from Alaska. He’s also the only Alaskan to get 10 steals in a D1 game.

The 6-foot-3 guard twice earned All-West Coast Conference honors in 2004 and 2005 and his 15.4 points per game average as a senior is No. 7 all-time among Alaskans.

Perkins is one of only two Alaskans to have his career highs equal a triple-double: 28 points, 11 rebounds, 10 steals. Throw in eight assists and he’s flirting with a quadruple-double.

Marcus Watts

Watts (Bartlett High) went to McNeese State straight out of high school in 2002 but later transferred to Florida Gulf Coast for his final two seasons.

The 6-foot-8 forward collected 751 points in 103 games. He ranks No. 6 all-time among Alaskans with a .519 field-goal percentage and No. 8 with 481 rebounds.

He averaged 5.1 rebounds each year at Florida Gulf Coast, making him one of five Alaskans to average at least 5.0 rebounds in two D1 seasons. His career high for scoring was 22 points.

SECOND ROUND
1 Mario Chalmers (Kansas) d. 8 Chris Bryant (Drake)
2 Nick Billings (Binghamton) d. 7 Derrick Wilson (Marquette)
3 Devon Bookert (Florida State) d. 6 Jacob Calloway (Southern Utah)
5 Damon Sherman-Newsome (Colgate) d. 4 Jumoke Horton (Saint Mary’s)

Damon Sherman-Newsome

5 Sherman-Newsome vs. 4 Horton
Sherman-Newsome was a premier 3-point specialist and one of the greatest players in Colgate history.

As a senior in 2014-15, the 6-foot-5 shooting guard carried the Raiders to a program-record 12 wins in the Patriot League. That’s more league wins than they had in the previous two seasons combined.

Sherman-Newsome (Bartlett High) was the catalyst and named team MVP for a reason. He reached double figures in 28 of 33 games and his 14.7-point scoring average and 68 3s both rank in the top-10 all-time among Alaskans.

He is one of five Alaskans to make 50 3s in multiple seasons and ranks No. 11 in the state for career points (1,030) and No. 8 for career 3s (140) in 96 games.

Sherman-Newsome had career high scoring games of 30, 29 and 28 points and was named First Team All-Patriot League.

Jumoke Horton

Horton, on the other hand, dominated opponents under the basket. The effective 6-foot-9 post player left a permanent mark on the Saint Mary’s program as he still holds a share of the school record for career field-goal percentage at .616.

Horton (East High) led the Gaels in shooting percentage four times, blocked shots three times and rebounds twice. He was a two-time First Team All-West Coast Conference selection – at the time, just the seventh in 40 years for Saint Mary’s.

Horton also left his mark on Alaska, ranking No. 2 all-time in FG%, No. 4 in blocked shots (82), No. 5 in rebounds (554) and 12th in points (987) in 109 games.

Saint Mary’s had just one winning season in his four years on campus. In 1995, the Gaels went 18-10 and finished second in the West Coast Conference.

Nick Billings Basketball

Nick Billings

2 Billings vs. 7 Wilson
When you see a 7-footer matched up with a 6-footer it’s easy to assume the smaller player is in for an uphill battle. Wilson is a formidable opponent, but Billings was a mountain of a man and ranks No. 48 among all-time shot blockers in NCAA history.

Billings (Kodiak High) might just be the most dominate Alaskan as his position. His 336 blocked shots are more than the No. 2 and No. 3 Alaskans combined.

He is one of two Alaskans to have his career highs equal a triple-double: 25 points, 14 rebounds, 10 blocked shots. He actually blocked 10 shots three different times for Binghamton and averaged 4.3 blocks per game as a freshman.

Billings was the American East Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2003 and twice named all-league. He ranks fourth among Alaskans with 598 career rebounds and a .497 field-goal percentage in 107 games.

Derrick Wilson Basketball

Derrick Wilson

Wilson (East High) is one of the best Alaska point guards to play D1 hoops. Not only does he hold the state’s single-game record for assists (14), but he also holds the two-game record (23), set on the big stage of the Big East Conference Tournament.

As a senior in 2014-15, he finished in the top 10 of the Big East in both assists (4.7) and steals (2.4) per game. His 4.7 assists as a senior rank No. 2 among Alaskans and his 4.2 average as a junior ranks No. 5.

Wilson scored 360 of his 440 career points over his final two seasons at Marquette. His 132 career games rank No. 2 among Alaskans.

SECOND ROUND
1 Carlos Boozer (Duke) d. 8 Jalil Abdul-Bassit (Oregon)
2 Chris Devine (Santa Barbara) d. 7 Ramon Harris (Kentucky)
3 Andre Laws (San Diego) d. 6 Cameron Rigby (Bradley & San Diego)
4 Colter Lasher (Houston Baptist) d. 5 Larry McBride (Montana)

Andre Laws

3 Laws vs. 6 Rigby
One of the great go-get-a-bucket players from Alaska, Laws matched the state’s highest single-season scoring average at 18.3 points per game as a senior in 2001-02 with San Diego.

He ranks No. 2 in single-game scoring (36) and No. 7 all-time with 1,337 career points in state history.

Laws (East High) also ranks in the top-10 all-time among Alaskans with 144 steals (4th), 246 assists (7th) and 139 3-pointers (T-9th) in 114 games.

He was a three-time All-West Coast Conference selection and one of nine Alaskans to average double figures in scoring for three seasons at the D1 level.

Cameron Rigby

Laws and Rigby were college teammates for three seasons at San Diego.

Rigby (Bartlett High) began his college career at Bradley before transferring to the West Coast Conference. Overall, he racked up 848 points and 486 rebounds in 113 games.

His total rebounds rank seventh all-time among Alaskans and his 6.0 average in 1999-00 ranks 10th.

The 6-foot-7 forward was a pure shooter and still ranks third on San Diego’s career free-throw percentage (.849) on 208-of-245 shooting.

Colter Lasher

4 Lasher vs. 5 McBride
In another barnburner, Lasher eked out a win to survive and advance.

This battle between all-conference stars from different generations pitted a versatile newcomer against a prototypical post from the 1980s.

Besting the 6-foot-10 McBride was a tall order for the small forward, but Lasher blossomed into pro during his time at Houston Baptist and far exceeded expectations coming out of high school.

The 6-foot-7 Lasher (Dimond High) was an All-Southland Conference pick and is one of nine Alaskans to average double figures in scoring for three seasons. His best season was 15.1 points per game as a senior in 2017-18.

He racked up 1,250 points, 457 rebounds, 214 assists and 139 3-pointers in 117 games. All those stats are top 10 all-time among Alaskans.

Lasher’s single-game highs are just as impressive: 28 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks and seven 3s.

Larry McBride

McBride (East High) was the first Alaska player to participate in the NIT in 1985 when Montana lost to UCLA in the first round.

He scored 918 points, grabbed 451 rebounds and blocked 162 shots in 105 games. His .542 career field-goal percentage ranks No. 4 among Alaskans.

McBride was an All-Big Sky Conference selection and twice averaged 10.6 points per game. His career highs were 19 points and 10 rebounds.

SECOND ROUND
1 Trajan Langdon (Duke) d. 8 Chris Toomer (Liberty)
2 Jason Erickson (Montana State) d. 7 Kevin Winford (Eastern Washington)
3 Muff Butler (New Orleans) d. 6 Wally Leask (Washington)
4 Roderick Wilmont (Indiana) d. 5 John Levitt (Saint Mary’s)

Jason Erickson

2 Erickson vs. 7 Winford
Erickson might be the best D1 player from Alaska nobody knows about outside of Eagle River. If that’s the case, it’s a shame because this guy was good.

The 6-foot-3 shooting guard was an All-American in 2002. He is the only player in Montana State history to win Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year and Big Sky Conference Player of the Year.

Erickson (Chugiak High) was a three-time All-Big Sky selection and still holds the school record for career steals (162) and ranks third in career 3-point percentage (.434).

He poured in 1,227 points in 112 career games to rank No. 9 all-time among Alaskans. He ranks third in steals and sixth in 3s (157). His career high for scoring was 30 points and his 17.3 points per game average is tied for third-best among Alaskans.

Erickson is also one of nine Alaskans to average double figures in scoring for three seasons at the D1 level.

Kevin Winford

Hard to believe, but Winford never averaged double figures at Eastern Washington, getting tantalizing close at 9.9 points per game as a sophomore in 2010-11.

That’s crazy for a pure shooter like Winford, who had a crazy-good hot streak in the fall of 2010 when the 5-foot-11 shooting guard pumped in 78 points and 21 3-pointers in three games.

Yes, 21 3s in three games.

He went for 28 points and eight 3s against Idaho, 11 points and three 3s against Gonzaga and 39 points and 10 3s against New Hope Christian. The 39 points and 10 3s are both single-game Alaska records for a D1 player.

Winford (Bartlett High) finished his career with 704 points in 113 games. He ranks 11th all-time among Alaskans with 138 career 3s.

Roderick Wilmont

4 Wilmont vs. 5 Levitt
In this clash between Southeast Alaska shooters, Wilmont got the nod thanks to his success with Indiana in the NCAA Tournament.

Wilmont (Sitka High) ranks No. 4 among Alaskans with 47 points in four games in the NCAA Tournament, trailing only the Big 3. He ranks fifth in appearances.

His 22 points in a win over Gonzaga at the 2007 NCAA Tournament ranks second-highest among Alaskans, trailing only Trajan Langdon’s 25.

He other huge performances that season, like the time he went off for 31 points, 12 rebounds and nine 3-pointers against Northwestern.

Wilmont was an All-Big Ten selection and twice named Big Ten All-Defense. He scored 866 points, grabbed 444 rebounds and made 150 3s in 118 games.

John Levitt

Levitt (Juneau-Douglas High) was one of the long-range bombers in Saint Mary’s history. He left in 1993 as the school record holder with 166 3s; he’s now 10th.

He is one of five Alaskans to make at least 50 3s in multiple seasons.

The 6-foot-5 guard racked up 831 points, 361 rebounds, 132 assists in 109 games. His career high was 21 points.

April 24, 2020

Ava Earl

The cancellation of Alaska high school track and field season due to the COVID-19 pandemic left a void for Ava Earl, Joel Power and many others.

They found a creative way to stay active, engaged with their fellow students, and upbeat by organizing teams for the Healthy Futures 100 Miles in May Challenge, which created a “bonus” month in April that has attracted over 3,000 participants.

“I was not the only one who was bummed not to be able to race track, so I thought this was an awesome idea,” Earl, a junior from Girdwood who attends South Anchorage High School, told the state health department’s Play Every Day blog.

The 100 Miles Challenge is an interactive friendly competition where all activities convert to miles. While social distancing doesn’t allow us to get together with our friends right now, the 100 Miles Challenge has been a great way to stay social online while exercising from a safe distance.

While the challenge was designed with the average person in mind, someone needing some structure and motivation to build healthy daily physical habits, it has also become fertile ground for Alaska’s top athletes, including high schoolers this year.

As of April 24, Earl’s team Ava’s Domination Squad included 37 members and had logged 4,172 miles, second among all teams entered. Earl herself had accumulated 176.5 miles and reached the 100-mile benchmark in just 12 days. She’s logged at least one activity every day — ranging from running, hula hooping, core workouts, walking and Nordic skiing — and on April 18 posted four different activities.

“It’s a good part of my day to just go out and enjoy,” Earl today Play Every Day. “A bonus is I get to spend more time exercising with my family, which I would not be doing otherwise.”

Earl has plenty of company among high school teams and school groups, which have joined from Anchorage, Eagle River, the Mat-Su, Juneau, Girdwood, Hope, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Minto and elsewhere.

Joel Power

Leading all teams in miles accumulated is (Social) Distance Athletes, captained by Joel Power of Service High School. Power, a top skier and runner for the Cougars, is no stranger to rallying school spirit: in February he skied in a cheerleader costume at the East T-Bird Classic.

Power helped rally 26 members to the (Social) Distance Athletes squad, which leads all teams with 4,334 miles. Power has been leading the way with 326 miles, accumulated from an astounding 67 entries that include running, walking, core workouts, bodyweight exercises, road biking, circuit training, hiking, mountain running, Nordic skiing, off-road biking, downhill skiing, dancing and yoga.

Power ranks 18th among all individuals and is believed to be the top-ranked high schooler.

The 100 Miles in May Bonus Challenge has entered its final week, so Ava’s Domination Squad, (Social) Distance Athletes, FXC Gorls led by Kendall Kramer in Fairbanks, Mountain Men led by Eagle River’s Michael Connelly and other teams will be making their final pushes in the good-natured competition that prioritizes participation.

“Our hearts go out to all those high school athletes who had their sports seasons canceled, especially the seniors,” said Healthy Futures and Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Executive Director Harlow Robinson, “It’s been inspiring to see how fired they’ve been to channel their energy into some fun competition.  Huge kudos to Ava, Michael, Joel, Kendall and some of the others who took the lead in getting the word out.”

As of April 24, 3,253 participants from 163 teams had logged more than 198,000 miles of activity.

Healthy Futures hopes the regularly scheduled 100 Miles in May Challenge will be an even bigger success as teams sign up for another month or join anew. All leaderboards and individual statistics will reset on May 1 and run through May 30.

Anyone can register for 100 Miles in May at https://healthyfuturesak.org/get_involved/100milesmay. This is normally a fundraiser for the Healthy Futures program but pledging is optional this year.  As the pandemic continues, Healthy Futures is making it a priority to encourage everyone to stay active and stay social (while maintaining a safe distance).

-By Alaska Sports Blog Contributor Matias Saari

April 23, 2020

The Alaska Sports Hall of Fame announced the finalists for the 2020 Trajan Langdon Youth Award.

Judah Eason, Ninilchik – Eason, a Native Youth Olympics champion from Ninilchik, has been a youth leader in Native sports since his first competition. He would rather be coaching than competing, but knows that through friendly competition he can be an example by demonstrating leadership, integrity and sportsmanship. He also learned to overcome adversity after suffering a broken leg from a bad landing in the one-foot high kick at the 2017 NYO.

 

Brandon Gall, Anchorage – The Service High all-conference basketball player also is a manager at McDonalds, while also being a certified basketball referee. In his off time, Brandon volunteers his time coaching boys and girls basketball at Hanshew middle school, and a local 6th grade team. He served as class president as a junior and student boy president as a senior. After high school, Brandon hopes to continue to play basketball while pursuing a degree in Business Management.

 

Houston High School Football Team –After a year of fires and earthquakes, Houston rose above it all and won the D3 state championship. The Hawks completed a perfect 10-0 season for the first time in school history with a 41-8 victory over Barrow at Anchorage Football Stadium, avenging a semifinal loss to the Whalers the previous year. Houston finished the year averaging 42 points a game while only allowing 7.

 

 

West High School Hockey Team – With more cheerleaders than skaters, the short-handed Eagles carved up the competition by going 24-1-1 and beating defending champion South 4-3 in double-overtime to win the state championship. Dressing just 13 skaters and two goalies, West trailed twice by two goals and tied the game with less than two minutes left in regulation before Matthew Patchin scored the game-winner.

The winner will be announced May 6 at 2 p.m. ADT by Alaska Sports Hall of Fame executive director Harlow Robinson via Facebook Live on the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Facebook page.

The Trajan Langdon Youth Award recognizes leadership, sportsmanship and inspiration, and is given to a youth or group of youths who best demonstrated integrity during the past year and positively influenced and inspired others to be better sportsmen or sportswomen.

Past winners included Soldotna’s Brenner Furlong in 2018 and the South Anchorage High boys basketball team in 2019.

April 22, 2020

During the COVID-19 outbreak Alaska Sports Blog editor Van Williams will take the opportunity to take a retrospective look at Alaska sports.

The first round of the 64-player bracket in the books. We have now sliced the field in half and moved closer to determining Alaska’s Greatest NCAA D1 Men’s Basketball Player.

Vante Hendrix

Dane Kuiper

The opening round was dominated by top seeds, but we did have a mild upset with 10 seed Vante Hendrix of Anchorage knocking off 7 seed Dane Kuiper of Wasilla in a battle between two University of New Mexico Lobos.

The 6-foot-5 Hendrix (West High) just wrapped up his sophomore season while Kuiper finished his college career in 2019. This matchup came down to the wire, but in the end two factors leaned towards Hendrix:

How often were they reach double figures?
Hendrix 8-for-22 36%
Kuiper 24-for-113 21%

Who had the best single-season scoring average?
Hendrix 8.8 ppg 2019-2020
Kuiper 6.4 ppg 2017-2018

Another factor was Hendrix’s career-high 20 points this year against fourth-ranked San Diego State. To do that against that competition is telling. He also had 19 against UNLV.

The 6-foot-7 Kuiper (Wasilla High) pumped in his career-high 24 points in 2017 against 23rd-ranked Arizona. He drained 6-of-8 3-pointers that day – which ranks No. 7 on Alaska’s all-time list.

Only six guys from the 907 have made more 3s than Kuiper in a D1 game. His 24-point effort is 18th among career highs for Alaskans.

Here is how the rest of the first round played out:

FIRST ROUND
1 Damen Bell-Holter (Oral Roberts) d. 16 Mike Dunlap (Loyola Marymount)
2 Kyle Bailey (Santa Clara) d. 15 Doug Hardy (Idaho)
3 Doron Perkins (Santa Clara) d. 14 John Brown (Seattle)
4 Tony Reed (Montana) d. 13 Bryan Anderson (Texas State)
5 Will Egolf (Bradley) d. 12 Devonaire Doutrive (Arizona)
6 Marcus Watts (McNeese State & Florida Gulf Coast) d. 11 Mao Tosi (Idaho)
10 Vante Hendrix (New Mexico) d. 7 Dane Kuiper (New Mexico)
8 Mark Schweigert (Southern Utah) d. 9 Jeff Lentfer (Weber State)

Mark Schweigert

8 Schweigert vs 9 Lentfer
In hindsight, Schweigert probably deserved a better seed. He averaged 14.5 points per game on 48% shooting as a senior at Southern Utah in the 1996-1997 season.

He finished No. 2 nationally in scoring among independent league players. His 39% 3-point percentage was No. 3.

The 6-foot-3 Schweigert (East High) recorded a career-high 22 points against the 22nd-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks in 1996. In that game he faced off with Rucker Park star Kareem Reid, who helped St. Raymond of New York beat Schweigert’s East High squad in the championship game of the 1993 Great Alaska High School Classic.

Jeff Lentfer

Lentfer (Service High) was a steady role player who eventually worked his way into the starting lineup at Weber State. As a senior, he averaged 4.9 points and 5.5 rebounds and helped the Wildcats win the Big Sky championship.

At the 1995 NCAA Tournament, 14th-seed Weber State stunned 3rd-seed Michigan State 79-72. Lentfer played 25 minutes. In the second round, Allen Iverson and 6th-seed Georgetown escaped with a 53-51 win. Lentfer played 23 minutes.

FIRST ROUND
1 Trajan Langdon (Duke) d. 16 Cole Magner (Bowling Green)
2 Jason Erickson (Montana State) d. 15 Donny Judd (Maryland)
3 Muff Butler (New Orleans) d. 14 Brandon Huffman (North Carolina)
4 Roderick Wilmont (Indiana) d. 13 Jay Lewis (Wichita State)
5 John Levitt (Saint Mary’s) d. 12 Michael Godfrey (Grambling)
6 Wally Leask (Washington) d. 11 Ryden Hines (Iona)
7 Kevin Winford (Eastern Washington) d. 10 Jeremiah Bailey (Pacific)
8 Chris Toomer (Liberty) d. 9 Anthony Cousin (Illinois State)

Chris Toomer

8 Toomer vs 9 Cousin
These guys finished their careers two decades a part but found themselves right next to each other in our bracket.

The 6-foot-1 Toomer (West High) gets the nod here based on a better overall career, which concluded in 1994 with a loss to No. 1 North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament.

He ranks top-10 all-time among Alaskans in career games, assists and steals.

But Toomer also produced some of the greatest single-game performances by an Alaskan, like the time he had seven 3s or when he had seven steals. That was the second-most steals by a player from the 907.

Anthony Cousin

Cousin’s three-year career ended in 2013, with his best season coming in 2010-2011. That’s when he posted his career highs with 23 points, eight assists and five steals.

His eight assists are tied for the third most by an Alaskan.

The 5-foot-10 Cousin (South High) was one of the better Alaska guards at getting to the basket. As a sophomore, he averaged 6.8 points, 2.7 assists and 2.6 free-throw trips per game.

FIRST ROUND
1 Mario Chalmers (Kansas) d. 16 Tommy Hobbs (New Orleans)
2 Nick Billings (Binghamton) d. 15 Kwintin Williams (Connecticut)
3 Devon Bookert (Florida State) d. 14 Bentiu Panoam (North Dakota)
4 Jumoke Horton (Saint Mary’s) d. 13 Kamaka Hepa (Texas)
5 Damon Sherman-Newsome (Colgate) d. 12 Kinzey Reeves (Saint Peters)
6 Jacob Calloway (Southern Utah) d. 11 Connor Devine (South Dakota State)
7 Derrick Wilson (Marquette) d. 10 Ray Schafer (Oregon)
8 Chris Bryant (Drake) d. 9 Jack Hobbs (Hartford)

Chris Bryant

8 Bryant vs. 9 Hobbs
Both players produced sold careers that were probably underappreciated in the grand scale of things, but Bryant wins this head-to-head matchup.

The 6-foot-3 Bryant (Metlakatla High) reached double figures in 25 of 78 career games (32%) and pumped in a career-high 26 points against Texas A&M Corpus Christi.

That point total is good enough for 15th among Alaskans. He’s also got games with 21, 19 and 18 points.

His best season came his sophomore year in 2005-2006 when he averaged 8.2 points and made 61-of-182 3s (34%).

Jack Hobbs

On Alaska’s all-time 3-point list, Bryant ranks 12th with 120 while Hobbs is 15th at 110.

The 6-foot-7 Hobbs (South High) ranks in the top 20 all-time among Alaskans in career games, rebounds and 3s.

Hobbs is tied for eighth-best on the single-game rebounds list with a career high of 12. His career high of 18 points came against UMass-Lowell.

His best season came as a junior in 2016-2017 when he averaged 6.3 points and 3.6 rebounds. That year he shot 38% from 3-point land on 53-of-193 shooting.

FIRST ROUND
1 Carlos Boozer (Duke) d. 16 Gary Wilken (Oregon State)
2 Chris Devine (Santa Barbara) d. 15 CJ Hooker (North Carolina)
3 Andre Laws (San Diego) d. 14 Brian Petro (Texas State)
4 Colter Lasher (Houston Baptist) d. 13 Stefan Falke (Lehigh)
5 Larry McBride (Montana) d. 12 Bomet Walden (Murray State)
6 Cameron Rigby (Bradley & San Diego) d. 11 Greg Harton (Southern Utah)
7 Ramon Harris (Kentucky) d. 10 Damon Nicholas (Arkansas State)
8 Jalil Abdul-Bassit (Oregon) d. 9 Jason Kaiser (Weber State)

Jalil Abdul-Bassit

8 Abdul-Bassit vs. 9 Kaiser
In a battle of two-year guys, it came down to their best season and hands down that was Abdul-Bassit.

The 6-foot-4 sharpshooter averaged 8.2 points in 20.0 minutes per game during the 2014-15 season and ranked top-10 in the Pac-12 Conference in total 3s (59) and 3-point percentage (43%).

Abdul-Bassit (East HIgh) netted a career-high 24 points against UCLA and he ranks fourth among Alaskans in single-game 3s with seven.

He helped lead Oregon (31-7) to the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament. He pumped in four 3s and scored 12 points in a loss to Wisconsin.

Abdul-Bassit ranks No. 3 on Oregon’s all-time list in career 3-point percentage (429).

Jason Kaiser

The 6-foot-5 Kaiser (Service High) was a UAA legend, but none of that counted in our D1 bracket. Only what he did at Weber State.

His best season came in 1992-1993 when he averaged 7.9 points in 20.8 minutes and made 31-of-86 (36%) from downtown.

Weber State went 20-8 that season and lost in the Big Sky Tournament.

Ramon Harris

7 Harris vs. 10 Nicholas
Remember in 2008 when Harris and Kentucky faced No. 1-ranked North Carolina on national TV?

The Wildcats didn’t show up, losing 77-58. But Harris showed out with a memorable two-handed breakaway dunk to go with his 15 points and three steals.

He registered highs of 16 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in his 106-game Wildcat career. The 6-foot-7 Harris is one of only three Alaskans with career highs of at least 10 rebounds and eight assists.

Damon Nicholas

Harris (West High) earned 55 starts and averaged 5.0 points and 3.7 rebounds a game over his sophomore and junior seasons. His numbers dropped off his senior season, in large part because he played on a roster packed with future NBA players.

The 6-foot-6 Nicholas (Bartlett) was one of the great Alaska players in the 1990s.

He played only two seasons at Arkansas State, averaging 4.7 points and 4.4 rebounds in 43 career games.