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Nevada basketball lands 6-foot-10 power forward
RENO, Nev. (AP) — Steven Bjornstad, a 6-foot-10 power forward who averaged 18 points and nearly 11 rebounds a game last season at Columbia River High School in Vancouver, Wash., has verbally committed to play for the Nevada Wolf Pack in 2009.
Bjornstad, who also averaged four blocked shots a game as a junior last season, had scheduled two more official visits to Santa Clara and St. Mary’s the next two weeks but decided on Wednesday to cancel those and become the first recruit to commit to Nevada for 2009-10.
“He felt in his gut and heart that this was the right place for him,” Bjornstad’s coach, David Long, told the Reno Gazette-Journal.
“He and his family felt completely comfortable at Nevada,” Long said. “The facilities, the coaches, the players, the total environment was just right for him. They had the whole package.”
Under NCAA rules, Nevada coach Mark Fox cannot comment on a recruitable player. Verbal commitments are not binding, but Bjornstad can sign his letter-of-intent, which is binding, in the early-signing period in mid-November.
Long said Bjornstad would have received offers from Pac-10 schools had he waited until the spring signing period before choosing a school. However, Bjornstad wanted to close his recruiting so he could turn his focus back to the court.
“He’s pleased that everything is going to stop now,” Long said. “The recruiting process is time-consuming. He just wants everything to cease the letters, the calls.”
Long thinks Bjornstad will make immediate impact for the Wolf Pack next season.
“I think he can help as a true freshman,” Long said. “Maybe not as a starter, but I think his shot-blocking and defense will immediately help the team.”
Long said Bjornstad needs to work on his ball handling and passing in addition to adding weight to his 220-pound frame. Despite shooting 80 percent from the field last season, Long said Bjornstad is also working on his shooting stroke.
But the coach is confident that the Wolf Pack got a steal in signing Bjornstad, a basketball late-bloomer who didn’t focus on the game until he was a high school freshman.
“What you see is 2 1/2 years of hard work,” Long said. “What he has accomplished in that time span is tremendous. Once he gets into the system at Nevada, the sky is literally the limit.”