Spring scholarships awarded to two Aggie basketball players
Two Utah State University basketball players shed their walk-on status last month.
Sophomore guard Abel Porter and redshirt-freshman forward Justin Bean received scholarships on Jan, 24 that will be applied to the rest of the spring semester. Prior to earning the scholarships, the players had been paying their own way for school.
Both were surprised by the announcement.
“It was just random,” Porter said. “I don’t even think I had a reaction because I was just confused about what was even happening.”
Head coach Craig Smith and his staff often gather the players together for announcements after practice.
“We thought it was a birthday or something,” Bean said.
Instead, Smith announced that both Bean and Porter would be receiving scholarships.
Bean is a player the Aggies’ coaching staff has frequently used to add a spark to the team, especially on defense.
Out of all 13 Aggie players, only freshman center Neemias Queta has a higher defensive rating. Bean also leads the team in the rebounding average per 40 minutes.
“Abel and Justin have earned this scholarship,” Smith said. “They’re everything we want an Aggie basketball player to be.”
Smith said Bean and Porter are dependable people and great teammates. They work hard in the classroom and show up to practice ready to make the team better.
Porter has transitioned from being a bench player to a regular starter over the past few weeks. His first start came against Colorado State, and he has started every game since.
Not only has Porter increased his contributions statistically, he also delivered a game-winning shot for the Aggies against New Mexico on Jan. 24.
According to Porter, the journey from walk-on to starting has been filled with many challenges.
“After my first year,” Porter said, “I got a little down on myself. I broke my foot my first year, I didn’t really see the court, it was kind of like, ‘do I really want to do this?'”
Porter said Smith and his staff have played an instrumental role in helping his maturity.
“When coach Smith came in, he kind of sat down and talk with us individually,” he said. “He told me basically, ‘I don’t really know anything about you, or about your game, but you’ll be given a fair shot.’ I guess that kind of sparked my motivation again.”
Both players will receive scholarships until the end of this academic period. Their scholarship status will have to be re-evaluated next year.
The uncertainty of future scholarships isn’t something Bean is worried about now.
“I really haven’t thought too much what next season is going to be like,” Bean said. “I’ve just been kind of taken back by the amount of love and trust the coaches have shown in me thus far. I’m just ready and willing to keep making an impact moving forward.”
Porter is of a similar mindset.
“It just gives me even more motivation,” Porter said. “All scholarships for basketball are year-to-year. Once you get a taste of what you’re working for, you want it even more.”