St. Andrew's School coach Mike Hart has known the Aggies for years - "all true basketball guys know about Utah State" he said.
It's just the first time he's had anyone at his Rhode Island prep school who wanted to take a deeper look at the program.
Henry Bolton, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound combo guard, committed Monday morning to the Aggies in an announcement in front of his Barrington, RI, school and local press. The Aggies' latest commit is expected to add some backcourt punch to the 2014 class, which also includes Texas prospect Julion Pearre and local prospect Sam Merrill.
"I'm excited and relieved," he said. "The process has been pretty long. I was glad when I got to see the campus for myself, and it really helped me make my decision."
At St. Andrew's, Bolton competes in the New England Prep School Athletic Council, one of the highest-level leagues in the country. Hart said last year alone, the NEPSAC saw five of its former players drafted, including St. Andrew's products NBAers Michael Carter-Williams and Ricky Ledo.
In the league, Bolton has had success, averaging about 16 points and five assists per game. Coming to St. Andrew's as a sophomore, Hart said Bolton has worked hard on becoming "a complete basketball player."
"He came to us with raw talent," Hart said. "He's really worked on his shooting and his ability to lead a team."
Bolton had offers to Rhode Island and Temple. Other midmajors such as Sienna and Old Dominion were among those interested, Hart said.
Oddly enough, it was Bolton who first reached out across the country to talk to Utah State.
The reason? His mother.
Bolton's mother, Zeporah Dasher, has travelled the world with her career in the Navy. Bolton grew up in many places: Florida, Virginia, Tennessee and even Japan.
"I've been travelling since I was five," Bolton said. "Utah is next."
When she lived in Newport, RI, Bolton had the chance to go to St. Andrew's. When she moved again to Oak Harbor, Wash., this time he stayed behind. But he wanted to see what future options could put his family closer together.
Hart put Bolton in touch with Tim Duryea, who Hart said had been in touch with the school for years to talk about Utah State. Chris Jones came to see Bolton play and offer him a scholarship.
The interest was returned when Bolton came out to Logan on an official visit this past weekend, and he and his mother were "wowed." Between the facilities on hand and being built, meeting his future teammates, and seeing a sold-out football crowd, he was sold.
"[When Chuckie Keeton] was injured, we were all down because you hate to see that to a player," he said. "But I was impressed by the fans and the way they stayed and cheered for their team. I heard that kind of happened last year with basketball. It was overwhelming, and I wanted to be a part of that."
Of course, no decision flies without mom's seal of approval. Dasher was also visiting, Bolton said, and like him, she was taken with the mountain scenery of Utah. She also liked the program's commitment to academics.
Bolton let Utah State know about his commitment Sunday night before announcing it Monday. He said he's still working on improving his shooting, but also the staff has asked him to improve as a defender.
He now refocuses on his high school career: St. Andrew's fell in the NEPSAC championship last season thanks to a buzzer-beater. Bolton said he believes the team should compete for the title again this winter.
The Aggies could have Bolton at either guard spot in college, depending on the needs of the team and his strengths. Hart said he was "very happy" with finally seeing one of his players go to Utah State.
"Stew Morrill isn't one of those flashy coaches who's a self-promoter," Hart said. "He just gets it done. I think Utah State is going to be great in the Mountain West."
— Kyle Goon
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