| 03.20.2018

Vandals add forward to roster for next season


Idaho basketball lands commitment from 3-star forward Nick Blair

With the graduation of seniors Connor Hill, Mike Scott and Bira Seck, along with junior Sekou Wiggs leaving the men’s basketball program, Idaho coach Don Verlin needed to reload his roster.

Enter Nick Blair, a slashing and defensive 3-star forward from national powerhouse Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas. The 6-foot-5-inch, 185 pound high school senior announced his commitment to the Vandals April 1 via Twitter.

Nick Blair

Nick Blair

“After my visit last Sunday, getting to know the coaches a little more and knowing that I could come right in and play definitely took me (to Idaho),” Blair said. “Plus, I like the area and the guys on the team.”

Rated as a 3-star prospect by Scout, Rivals and 247Sports, Blair comes to Idaho over a long list of other schools who offered him scholarships. Schools such as Rice, Tulsa and Nevada all offered Blair scholarships, according to Verbal Commits, but he said he was seriously considering an offer from Pac-12 school Arizona State until Sun Devils’ coach Herb Sendek was fired.

At that point it came down to Idaho, Portland and Northern Colorado in the end, with the Vandals coming out on top, Blair said.

“Basically, Idaho has been in the equation for some time,” Blair said. “Upon my visit with Idaho, I was able to see myself there for four years compared to the others.”

Playing early is one of the biggest factors that drew Blair to Idaho, and if any high school could prepare an incoming freshman to play right away, it’s Bishop Gorman. The Gaels have dominated Nevada high school basketball and have won the last four state titles. Blair played alongside two five-star centers in Stephan Zimmerman and Duke-bound Chase Jeter, along with 3-star guard Kwinton Hinson at Bishop Gorman.

Blair averaged 9.5 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game his senior season on the star-studded state championship squad.

His highlight videos on YouTube are full of dunks and layups at the rim as well as defensive stops and blocks in the paint. ESPN’s scouting report described Blair as “athletic as they come” and praised his jumping abilities. It cited his jump shot and long-range game as needing improvement.

Verlin landed his third commitment for 2015-2016 in Blair as he joins 2-star shooting guard Tyler Brimhall and 2-star sophomore small forward Henry Cornelius. Blair said the coaching resume and personality of Verlin was one reason he ultimately chose to be a Vandal.

“I knew coach Verlin for a while,” Blair said. “He’s a real laid back guy, but takes his job seriously. Most wins in Idaho history says something and he knows what he’s doing. Plus, he’s straightforward with things, doesn’t need to sugar coat. He’s always there to help if needed.”

The small forward position will be loaded next year for Idaho with senior Nahshon George and sophomores Jordan Scott and Arkadiy Mkrtychyan, but Blair clearly sees himself playing a part from game one of his first year. For now though, he said he just has one thing on his mind.

“To get ready for the season,” Blair said. “Just working out on a regular, nothing too different. Just getting in shape and tightening up everything for the college level … I can’t wait to get on campus.”

Ben Evensen can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu

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