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Utah State basketball could turn to walk-on for depth

Published December 27, 2012 2:30 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Let me say upfront: It is still unclear how Utah State will handle its depth issue after Quincy Bair's departure.

Only a few guys on scholarship can play the 2-3 spots: Preston Medlin, TeNale Roland, Spencer Butterfield, Marvin Jean, and maybe Kyisean Reed in some instances.

But what about non-scholarship players?

Many fans have been wondering: Who is the guy who's been suiting up the past four games? He's not on the online roster.

That would be 21-year-old walk-on Connor Garner, a scout team player at guard who might be the next man up if the Aggies need some backcourt depth.

The 6-foot-2 freshman graduated from Declo High School (Idaho) in 2009, but hails from Ogden. His father Blair Garner, a longtime coach at Bonneville High, was surprised as anyone when he saw his son suited up for a road game against Utah Valley.

"I didn't know he was suiting up for that game," Garner said. "He wasn't expecting to play this year, he wasn't doing any drills or anything. Now his practice role has increased, and he's suiting up. He's available for whatever they need him to do."

Garner has taken a long layoff from basketball since graduating in 2009. As a senior, he averaged 15.3 points per game for the Hornets, but then spent a year working, then went on an LDS Church mission. At Utah State this fall, he attended a tryout for a walk-on spot.

He started out as a scout team player, but now with departures and injuries, the Aggies have only 12 guys in practice. Garner's role there is one of necessity.

With Bair gone, he might play some clean-up minutes that Bair was playing in the last four games. But that's still unclear.

All his father knows is he'll be in uniform, ready for whatever the Aggies need him to do. At a recent visit home for the holidays, Blair Garner was shooting some hoops with his son, and noticed how much he's improved.

"He's become a better player, that's for sure," Blair Garner says. "He's not expecting anything. But I don't think he's dressing just to make him feel good about himself."

— Kyle Goon

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon