Wednesday, May 17, 2017 | 8:53 p.m.
If Je’rell Springer learned anything from the past year of basketball, it’s that playing for the school he wants is the only thing that matters.
Springer, a senior guard at Desert Pines High, made what many could label an unconventional college decision Wednesday when he signed with Southern Utah University over more-established BYU, where he recently took a recruiter trip.
But when you talk to Springer, the decision was easy.
“I like the coaches and how much they believe in me,” Springer said. “I like the (up-down style) system. It fits me well.”
Springer, a three-star recruit, didn’t play his senior season after being declared ineligible following his transfer to Desert Pines from Shadow Ridge. His family hired a lawyer and his eligibility case made its way to district court, but Springer only saw action in one game. Still, he wouldn’t go back and change what happened.
At Desert Pines he got back on track academically to be in the position to play in college. And, equally important, the Jaguars won the state championship. He became the best practice player in the city.
“I’m definitely ready to get back and play,” he said.
Springer, who averaged 20 points, 7.7 rebounds, three steals and two assists per game in 2015-16 at Shadow Ridge, says the bond he quickly made with Southern Utah coach Todd Simon — the former UNLV assistant — and his staff was the difference. He was amazed at how much the coaches knew about him, everything from his basketball ability to personal life.
“They did their homework. They knew everything,” he said. “They really wanted me to come play there.”
Springer said he was recruited to play on the wing and could eventually see time at point guard.
Signing the scholarship papers capped an eventful year. He went from the lows of not being able to play, to the highs of winning a state championship and becoming an NCAA qualifier.
Now, there’s a basketball game to play in. And he can’t wait.
“That’s the style I like to play in,” he said of Simon’s fast-paced offense.