Sports

Mount Si hoops star signs with U-Portland

A local boys’ hoop star has made a big decision with potentially historic impact for his team.

Mount Si senior boys’ basketball guard Tanner Riley has verbally committed to play college basketball for the University of Portland.

Portland, a school which plays in the Division I West Coast Conference, beat out several other Division I schools, including Washington State, Seattle University, Eastern Washington and Montana, to land arguably the Kingco 3A Conference’s top class of 2010 college basketball prospect.

Riley made an unofficial visit earlier this year, followed by an official visit a few weeks ago.

“I got really close with the coaching staff,” Riley said. “They play in a good league, they have a good nonleague (schedule). When I was down there, I was just trying to think of something I didn’t like, and there wasn’t really anything.”

His high school coach, Wildcat boys basketball coach Jeff D’Ambrosio, is pleased with the decision.

“I’m really proud of Tanner,” he said.

“This decision was the product of a lot of hard work and dedication on his part, and I’m just really proud of him and excited for his future,” D’Ambrosio said by e-mail to the Valley Record.

Among Riley’s likely Portland Pilots teammates next year is ex-Bellevue star Luke Sikma. Riley is looking forward to having Sikma as a teammate.

“When I was down there, I got to hang out with him at school,” Riley said. “We got along really well from the start.”

The large number of schools the Mount Si star turned down to commit to the Pilots is indicative of how highly sought-after he was by many schools.

“I ended up having five offers, and then there was probably ten more schools that were strongly recruiting me,” Riley said.

Another factor which played into the decision was the quality of the conference and non-conference schedules compared to other conferences such as the Big Sky, which Montana and Eastern Washington are members.

“The Big Sky, playing in that league didn’t really excite me, and the WCC, playing against Gonzaga every year, San Diego and those teams really excited me,” he said.

Gonzaga, at Spokane, is the University of Portland’s geographical conference rival and, as many fans know, is among the top teams in the country. Schools such as San Diego, St. Mary’s and Santa Clara, also league rivals of the Pilots, have had success in recent NCAA tournaments.

In addition, according to the UoP website, their non-conference schedule this season includes such opponents as Washington, Oregon, and UCLA.

Riley said he has not decided on a major as of yet. His decision to go to Portland marks the first time in recent years, and maybe ever in the history of the school, that a boys’ basketball player from Mount Si committed to a D-I college for basketball. Riley becomes at least the thirteenth Wildcat athlete over the last six seasons to play college sports at a Division I institution.

Eastern Washington are members.

“The Big Sky, playing in that league didn’t really excite me, and the WCC, playing against Gonzaga every year, San Diego and those teams, really excited me,” he said.

Gonzaga, at Spokane, is the University of Portland’s geographical conference rival and, as many fans know, is among the top teams in the country. Schools such as San Diego, St. Mary’s and Santa Clara, also league rivals of the Pilots, have had success in recent NCAA tournaments.

In addition, according to the university Web site, their non-conference schedule this season includes such opponents as Washington, Oregon, and UCLA.

Riley said he has not decided on a major as of yet. His decision to go to Portland marks the first time in recent years, and possibly ever in the history of the school, that a boys’ basketball player from Mount Si committed to a D-I college for basketball. Riley becomes at least the thirteenth Wildcat athlete over the last six seasons to play college sports at a Division I institution.

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