Scott Slant Wednesday Weekly: What will Degenhart’s senior year look like?

Tyson Degenhart is going into his senior year? Where did the time go? There’s a chance his final season at Boise State will be unlike the previous three. When Degenhart was a freshman, he more or less filled a natural power forward spot while Mladen Armus roamed the middle. Then as a sophomore, without a dominant center on the squad, Degenhart had to spend much of his time in the post. Even though it limited some of the damage he could do, he was still first-team All-Mountain West.

Last season Degenhart was in a comfort zone at forward as O’Mar Stanley (with an assist from Cam Martin) took up residence down low, and he was all-conference again. Now with Arizona transfer Dylan Anderson aboard and Stanley back for more—and with Chibuzo Agbo gone—could we see Degenhart on the wing as a senior? It would be different for him, but he’s more than capable. Heck, he brings the ball up the floor often, and you know he can shoot the three. Can’t wait to see…


As a two-time Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Arizona and a one-time top 100 recruit, the 7-foot Anderson does come in with a powerful pedigree. And he has three years of eligibility. But he redshirted this past season and only played in 15 games as a true freshman, so there’s a lot of “show me” swirling out there. But according to B.J. Rains, Washington, Creighton and Texas were also on his tail, and what coach wouldn’t want to work with a skilled 7-footer, and get some credit for it?

Props to John Patrick for discovering that Anderson is Boise State’s first 7-footer of the Leon Rice era. Anderson is poised to contribute. So who was the last 7-foot Bronco to fill that bill? It would be John Coker out of the Bobby Dye era. Coker played 84 games for Boise State in the early 1990s and averaged 12.3 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He was a filled-out 7-footer, tipping the scales at 253 pounds. (Anderson was listed at 240 by Arizona last season.) Coker’s one of a handful of Boise State alums to play in the NBA. He appeared in 25 games spread over three seasons for the Phoenix Suns, Washington Wizards and Golden State Warriors and averaged 1.6 points per game.


Boise State landed what we’d currently call a diamond in the rough with NAIA first-team All-American Javan Buchanan of Indiana Wesleyan. In terms of size and stats, the 6-7 Buchanan matches up well with the departed Agbo (he averaged 20½ points and 6½ rebounds this past season, although he shot 35 percent from three-point range to Agbo’s 41). But the level of competition obviously does not sync. So there’ll be an obvious learning curve as Buchanan ramps up to Mountain West hoops. But who’s to say he won’t be primed and ready in January? With that said, we continue to forget who’s already on the Broncos roster: 6-7 Andrew Meadow, 6-4 Chris Lockett, 6-7 RJ Keene and 6-8 Emmanuel Ugbo. Could one of those guys emerge? Of course. Meadow, in particular, has experience and mojo.


The news that Boise State passed the 2,000-mark in new football season ticket sales last Friday, more than double the number a year ago, deserves a deeper dive. That the Broncos are in this position in this day and age is rather remarkable. In most college football programs, season tickets are slipping, not surging. The increase at Boise State can be partly attributed to the Malachi Nelson/Ashton Jeanty factor, but mostly it points to hard work in the athletic department, which has made 20,000 total season tickets in the upcoming season a goal. The Broncos have not been at that level since 2015. Last season, Boise State set a school record with an average crowd of 35,867, understanding that things were counted differently than when the old mark was set in 2012. The aim is to break it this year.


There’s a possibility CJ Tiller will be playing a game on the Blue this fall—in the Broncos’ game against Utah State on October 5. But he’ll be wearing white, as Tiller gave his commitment to the Aggies last weekend. There’s some consternation among Bronco Nation over this, but there are players transferring to rival schools left and right in the portal era. How would you like to be Stanford, for example, which saw one of its best men’s basketball players, Andrej Stojakovic, transfer to Cal last week? Tiller was stuck in the No. 3 spot on Boise State’s quarterback depth chart after spring football, and he just wants to play. If USU is his best opportunity, so be it. Tiller probably has his eye on next year, as the Aggies already have senior transfers Bryson Barnes from Utah and Spencer Petras from Iowa (who’s been named the starter).


When Boise State’s football program was in Division I-AA, fans anxiously awaited the weekly polls to see where the Broncos were ranked. Today, that wouldn’t sound like much fun after 20-plus years of floating in and out of the AP and Coaches Polls at the FBS level. But you can see the table being set for a whole new Division I-AA, otherwise known as the Group of 5. This news from that Group of 5 leaders are signing off on a weekly poll for that level exclusively just sounds like a waving of the white flag. The poll would debut around August 1 and reportedly already has a title sponsor. I think that’ll just give voters in the traditional AP and Coaches Polls an excuse not to include Group of 5 schools at all, as in, “Hey, those guys are taken care of—I’ll just plug in Rutgers here at No. 25.”


Details are scarce from the Seattle Seahawks rookie minicamp over the weekend as it pertains to former Boise State standout George Holani. Most of the focus was on the Seahawks draft picks, of which Holani was not one. He wore No. 36 as he took the practice field. One of the guys Holani will be competing with at running back did get some notice. Kenny McIntosh, a 2023 seventh-round pick who didn’t play last year, got props for his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, which happens to be one of Holani’s strengths. By the way, if Holani does make the 53-man roster, he’d be the first former Boise State running back since David Hughes to suit up for the Seahawks. Hughes, a third-round pick in 1981, was technically a fullback. He had a productive six-year career in the NFL.


The Idaho Steelheads’ series with the Kansas City Mavericks is going to be just as difficult as everybody thought it would be. But the Steelheads showed some moxie after a 4-2 loss at K.C. in Game 1. On Sunday, trailing 2-1 going into the third period, the Steelies got goals from Keaton Mastrodonato and Ty Pelton-Byce for a 3-2 victory, earning a split and grabbing home-ice advantage in the Mountain Division Finals against the best team in the league this season. The Steelies return to Idaho Central Arena to host Game 3 tonight. Game 4 is Friday, and there will be a Game 5 this Saturday.


Troy Merritt has fought the golf gods for a long time, but he got back at ‘em last week at the CJ Cup Byron Nelson. Merritt tied for ninth, highlighted by a nine-under 62 in the second round that shot him into contention. The former Boise State star made a shade under $250,000 and leaped more than 30 spots in the FedEx Cup standings to No. 126, one below the cutline for automatic PGA Tour cards for next year. Merritt tees off Thursday morning at the Myrtle Beach Classic in South Carolina.


The weather timing is right for the Mountain West Softball Tournament beginning Thursday at Dona Larsen Park. How about 72 on Thursday, 78 on Friday and 82 on Saturday? The Broncos are hosting based on their regular season conference title a year ago. And it still wouldn’t be happening had Boise State not added lights during the offseason. On the diamond, the Broncos weren’t quite as sharp in Mountain West play this year, but they have momentum now after sweeping Colorado State on the road over the weekend. They’re seeded fifth and open against Fresno State Thursday. The Bulldogs took two of three from Boise State four weeks ago at DLP.


This inaugural Northwest Showdown in September is a great idea. There’s nothing like intersectional high school football to check out where Idaho stacks up, and we don’t often get to see that these days. For example, Northern California power Rancho Cordova visited Boise to play Capital in the late 1980s, and Borah traveled to Hawaii to face the legendary Punahou program on Thanksgiving in 1971. The Eagles and Lions both won). Now, Idaho will put up traditional powers Rocky Mountain, Rigby, Highland and defending state 5A champion Eagle against Chiawana and Moses Lake from Washington and West Linn and Summit from Oregon. The games will be played at Rocky on September 6 and 7. And they have a sponsor, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Methinks the Idaho teams will acquit themselves well.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by TRI STATE ELECTRIC…let us bring the power to you!

May 8, 1959: The birthday of one of the best defensive backs in NFL history. After starring at USC, Ronnie Lott was a first-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers, and the Niners’ rise to dominance coincided with his arrival in 1981. He made seven interceptions, three of them pick-sixes, as a rookie on San Francisco’s first Super Bowl title team. Lott is one of only five players who were part of all four of the 49ers’ first four Super Bowl crowns, joining quarterback Joe Montana, linebacker Keena Turner, cornerback Eric Wright and wide receiver Mike Wilson. Lott also played for the L.A. Raiders, New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs—and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000. Ronnie Lott…65 years old today.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

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