As a new basketball season quickly approaches for the University of Utah Runnin’ Utes, many eyes will be on the former Salt Lake Community College national champion, Tyler Rawson.
The 6-foot-10 forward from American Fork helped lead the Bruins on their championship run last season in Hutchinson, Kansas. SLCC beat Hutchinson Community College on their home court to give the Bruins their second NJCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship in school history.
The stage has since gotten a little bit bigger and the spotlight a whole lot brighter, but Rawson believes that his playing days at SLCC helped him get to where he is now and will help him down the road.
“JUCO level did a lot. You know, going back and playing in Hutch for the national championship … that did a lot for me,” he says. “I’ve always wanted to be on a stage like this [Utah] and it’s a dream come true for me.”
The Runnin’ Utes have welcomed in many new faces this season and Rawson is looking forward to helping the team grow and accomplish their goals.
“We’re still bonding together and molding together to become what we want,” he says.
As a Bruin, Rawson showed his ability to lead on the court, and looks forward to implementing those traits with his new teammates.
“I’m gonna give a lot of leadership and use my experience and my basketball IQ to help teammates … I think I can bring a lot to the table and continue to put in all the hard work I need to and make sure that we can be the best we can when March Madness comes around,” he says.
From shooting on the outside to driving to the hoop, Rawson believes his skill set makes him a dangerous opponent.
“I’m also a defensive player,” he says. “I’m great at help defense and taking charges and blocking shots. [I] feel like being so versatile is the biggest thing that’s helped me through my career.”
Whether it was Todd Phillips at SLCC or Larry Krystkowiak this year at Utah, Rawson looks up to the coaches that help make him a better player.
“Coach Phillips, I gotta give a lot of props to him and the [SLCC] coaching staff. They ran the JUCO program like a Division I [NCAA] program and they don’t have the amount of resources they do here [at the U.] But it’s all the same idea of having practice and film and getting down in that routine and I think it’s been a lot of help for me.
“At SLCC they taught me to enjoy the process and to work every day. By the time we know it, it’s gonna be March and the season’s not even gonna feel like it even happened so I’m just enjoying the moment and happy to be here.”
Rawson and the rest of the Runnin’ Utes open their 2016-2017 season at home against Northwest Nazarene on Saturday, Nov. 12.