Still in the lab: UAF Men’s Basketball remains in the gym despite off-year

The University of Alaska Fairbanks has elected to opt-in to the upcoming men's and women's...
The University of Alaska Fairbanks has elected to opt-in to the upcoming men's and women's basketball seasons.(Jordan Rodenberger (KTVF))
Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 7:12 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The University of Alaska Fairbanks Men’s Basketball season was canceled months ago, about four weeks before they were set to tip-off a condensed schedule. It would have been easy to chalk up the year as a lost cause due to COVID, but the three UAF sports that did not get a chance to compete in any form, hockey and men’s and women’s basketball, continued to workout and practice together throughout the off-year.

The men’s basketball program is hosting its final week of practice before the team officially splits off for summer break. About half of the roster went to their respective hometowns to continue working out while finishing their academic semester online. The other half braved through a record-cold winter in Fairbanks, many for the first time, and spent countless hours at the Patty Center Gym on the UAF campus.

“I think skill-building has really elevated this year,” said head coach Greg Sparling of the off-year. “The younger guys are stepping up, it was the best thing for a lot of them because it gives them another year of eligibility.”

Of those who stayed in Fairbanks for the spring semester include returners Matthew Scarboro (Eielson High School), Marcus Lee (Ketchikan), Mawich Kachjaani (International School of Indiana) and Markel Banks (Olympic College).

“Mawich is really coming on, he has really stepped up his game, Markel’s midrange game is getting even better, it is great to see,” Sparling added.

With no games or travel, it gave the UAF Basketball a chance to put greater focus on the ‘student’ aspect of ‘student-athlete.’

“It helped out a lot of kids academically which is huge for us. They have done excellent, we have been able to do a lot more study table and also able to get tutors. It gets these guys a lot closer to getting that degree that no one can take away from you.”

Newcomers Quin Barnard (University of Washington), Jersey Truesdell (Soldotna) and Zac Olmsted (Olympic College) also elected to stay through the winter. The UAF Men’s basketball program is expected to bring back an exciting roster when they return to the court in 2021-22 with reigning Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year Shadeed Shabazz and plenty of talent coming through the transfer portal.

Continue to monitor as we introduce or reintroduce the UAF Men’s Basketball players who stuck around during the off-year.

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