Bouncing around the region, hoops to football ...
Eric Stuteville’s relentless desire to rebound and defend rewarded him with a scholarship to Sacramento State, then an opportunity with the Kings in the summer league and now another chance to play for pay.
The 6-foot-11, 245-pound center was the No. 1 pick of Saturday’s NBA G League draft – formerly the NBA Developmental League, or D-League – going to the Northern Arizona Suns. The Phoenix Suns affiliate moved up from the No. 8 spot with a trade to grab Stuteville, making him the fourth Hornets player to be picked by the league (Mikh McKinney in 2016, John Dickson in 2015, Jameel Pugh in 2006).
Stuteville’s work ethic moved Sac State coach Brian Katz, who had to order the Casa Roble High School graduate out of the gym to rest, saying, “Eric’s a monster, such a hard worker. No one spends more time on his game. His ability to handle a huge workload is unlike anything I’ve seen.”
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Stuteville was the first center in Sac State history to score more than career 1,000 points, and his .632 field-goal percentage last season was a school record, as are the amount of career games in which he played (125). He also was the first Hornet to play in the NBA Summer League, appearing in three games with the Kings in Las Vegas.
Another player with local ties was selected in the G League draft.
Darin Johnson, who played at Franklin and Sheldon high schools before two college stops, went 12th overall to the Delaware 87ers. A 6-5 guard, Johnson started his collegiate career at Washington and finished at Cal State Northridge, where he averaged 13.8 points last season. He’ll now join the Philadelphia 76ers affiliate.
Road warriors – Sac State downed North Dakota 34-27 on Saturday in Big Sky Conference action for its first road win in nearly three seasons.
In moving to 4-3 overall (3-1 in conference), the Hornets have doubled their win total of 2015 and 2016.
Depth saved the day. Sac State turned to redshirt freshman Roman Ale at quarterback in place of injured starter Kevin Thomson. Ale completed 13 of 19 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns, both to Andrew Lindsey, and local products Mister Harriel and Ernest Jenkins combined for 14 tackles.
Ale was the Los Angeles Times’ City Player of the Year in 2016 after setting myriad school records, including 45 touchdown passes, for a Narbonne High team that won the CIF State Division I-A title.
“Roman was able to step up and make some huge throws, and that is why we signed him,” said Sac State coach Jody Sears, who celebrated his 50th birthday with the victory. “The kid is a winner. He didn’t flinch. Extremely proud of him.”
RC locked in – Sac State has extended the contract for baseball coach Reggie Christiansen through the 2024 season, and kudos to doing the right thing.
What happens to program builders is they draw interest from other programs eager for a reboot. Sac State was wise to keep Christiansen in place after two NCAA tournament appearances in four seasons, six successive seasons of 30 or more victories and a lot of terrific local recruiting over seven seasons.
Christiansen has drawn regular praise from athletic director Mark Orr and school president Robert S. Nelsen, who recently told me, “Reggie’s my strongest coach. He produces student-athletes with integrity. He’s holding them accountable as students and players and people.”
Just kicking it – Sam Keil has a knack for kicking his team out of a bind.
The former San Juan High and American River College kicker booted a Fairmont State-record six field goals Saturday, including a 34-yarder in overtime for an 18-15 victory over Glenville State.
Fairmont State, a Division II program in West Virginia, is 5-3. Keil made 15 of 17 field goals in 2015 for ARC when he was a sophomore. He made 9 of 18 field goals last season and a school-record 42 extra points. He has made 15 of 20 field-goal attempts this season.