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The NBA Bronco: Chandler Hutchison 2.0

Chandler Hutchison was the first-ever first-round draft pick in Boise State history. To this points, he hasn’t had numbers to match. But all is new for Hutch in D.C.
Credit: Alex Brandon/AP Photo
Washington’s Chandler Hutchison battles for the ball during an NBA game against Indiana on March 29, 2021, in Washington. Hutchison scored 18 points.

BOISE, Idaho — Wednesday, March 31, 2021.

Reviews on Chandler Hutchison’s Washington debut Monday night are glowing, and that’s especially notable after what this season was like for him in Chicago. Hutchison, who was traded to the Wizards last Thursday, put up 18 points with five rebounds in a 132-124 win over the Indiana Pacers. The former Boise State star went 8-for-11 from the field and 2-for-3 from three-point range. And he did it in only 25 minutes of floor time. Hutchison played hungry, and why wouldn’t he after being declared inactive or simply not playing in 37 of 44 games with the Bulls this season? Hutchison had scored a grand total of 13 points in 2020-21. It’s too early to say Washington knew what it was doing by acquiring him. But—here’s hoping Washington knew what it was doing.

Hutchison sure seems ticketed for a bigger role in Washington. Tuesday’s game was his first since February 5, after which Bulls coach Billy Donovan announced that Hutchison was out indefinitely with a “personal issue.” If you read between the lines, the issue could have been with Donovan. He was never assimilated into Donovan’s rotation. That Hutchison was sidelined earlier in the year with COVID-19 certainly didn’t help. The 6-6 wingman still has time to assemble a productive NBA career—he doesn’t turn 25 until April 26. Hutchison is no longer sporting the familiar No. 15 he wore at Boise State. He is now wearing No. 1. And Hutchison still has one of the best hairlines in the history of mankind. As a person who has long gone without one, I continue to be jealous.

DENNIS MAKES HIS DECISION

It would have been surprising if Boise State got away without a player or two in the transfer portal. Alas, the Broncos have their first, confirming that RayJ Dennis intends to leave after two seasons in the program. In fact, he’s already been removed from Boise State’s current roster. There was a logjam at guard. Dennis had been seen as the most likely transfer candidate after losing his starting spot to Emmanuel Akot the last three games of the season. Over the Broncos’ first 13 games, Dennis averaged 11.6 points—over the final 15, he averaged 5.9.

Dennis, of course, will always be remembered for his performance on January 18, 2020. He led one of the most improbable and exciting comebacks in Boise State history, as the Broncos rallied from 18 points down with just over four minutes to go to defeat Utah State 88-83 in overtime. Dennis started the game but didn’t score until 3:36 remained. Then, after a chunk of the crowd had left, Dennis put up 19 points the rest of the way in regulation. With Boise State trailing 75-70, he drained a three-pointer with four seconds left—then Justinian Jessup stole the Aggies’ inbound pass and laid it in to send it into OT. The Broncos took their first lead of the game early in the extra period and didn’t look back.

STOPWATCHES AND TAPE MEASURES

With no NFL Combine and a scarcity of personal workouts, Boise State’s Pro Day today takes on added significance. Three Broncos who completed their careers in December, John Bates, Avery Williams and Evan Tyler, are scheduled to go through drills in front of NFL scouts in sessions closed to the public and the media. It’s especially big for Bates, Boise State’s top draft prospect, after his invitation to the NFL Combine became merely symbolic. He wants to follow up on a great week at the Senior Bowl two months ago. Luke Patterson of SI.com called Bates the “most impressive receiver” during the week, including wideouts. “Bates had scouts and analysts audibly ‘oohing’ and ‘awing’ in every single practice with his impressive catches, and route-running ability,” wrote Patterson at the time.

YOU KNOW WHAT KIND OF A GUY WILLIAMS IS

This is an important day for Williams, who wants to demonstate value beyond his considerable kick returning skills. Can he contribute for somebody at cornerback? But Williams has it all in perspective. Consider what he’s doing today with his bench press reps. He’s joining other players around the country in donating money for every rep to “Uplifting Athletes” and its mission to inspire the Rare Disease Community.” William is asking for pledges—you can contribute at charity.pledgeit.org.

RAUSA READY TO RUMBLE

Former Boise State kicker Tyler Rausa is also slated to showcase his skills, one year after the demise of the XFL. Rausa, who was the Broncos’ starter for two seasons and booted a school-record 25 field goals in 2015, has been relentlessly posting video of kicks through the uprights from 55-plus yards. In February last year, Rausa scored the first points in XFL history with a field goal for the DC Defenders. Later in that game he connected on a 54-yarder. In the Defenders’ five games before the great sports shutdown, Rausa was 9-for-12 on field goals, including three makes from 50-plus yards. He’s been lobbying for an NFL tryout ever since. No better stage than the one he’ll have today.

HENDERSON AUDITIONS, TOO

Jaylon Henderson is going to give his pro football aspirations another shot today. The savvy former Boise State quarterback began the 2019 season No. 3 on the depth chart and ended up leading the Broncos to four straight victories as a starter in November and December, including in the Mountain West championship game. It seems to me Henderson’s game is well-suited to the CFL, but that ceased to be a possibility last summer when the CFL season was cancelled due to the pandemic. He hasn’t stopped working out. Henderson has a Plan B (it might, in fact, be his Plan A): he has already started a career as a financial planner at Madison Poole in Meridian.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…March 31, 2017:

In perhaps the biggest upset in basketball history, Mississippi State beats Connecticut 66-64 in overtime in the NCAA Women’s Final Four. The stunner snapped UConn’s historic 111-game winning streak that had begun in November of 2014. Just one year earlier, MSU had been drilled in a 60-point loss to the Huskies in the Sweet 16, the most-lopsided result in regional semifinals history. UConn had won four straight national championships under Geno Auriemma and was expected to win a fifth despite losing the top three players selected in the 2016 WNBA Draft.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)