SMITHFIELD — Flanked by celebratory balloons, treats and drinks, Sky View two-sport star Mason Falslev and his basketball coach, Kirk Hillyard, fought back tears.
Falslev, after an emotional expression of thanks to his parents and supporters, leaned forward and put pen to paper, officially pledging his basketball talents to the University of Utah and its head coach, Larry Krystkowiak.
“Ever since I was young, my dream was to play at a college,” Falslev said. “I’m so excited to go to Utah. It’s going to be awesome.”
Falslev, a three-star recruit, led the Bobcats on a memorable playoff run last season, downing the top-rated 4A team in the state en route to becoming the only No. 4 seed since at least 2008 to win a state championship at the 4A level.
Along the way, Falslev took home both the 4A MVP and Herald Journal All-Valley Player of the Year awards. He averaged 24.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 2.1 steals per game during the season.
In regards to his decision to travel down south to play basketball, Falslev said he wanted to stay in the state of Utah and the program Krystkowiak has built drew him in, along with Falslev’s close relationship with the coaches.
“I like their program there,” Falslev said. “Their coaches, Chris Jones and Larry, I’ve known their boys and grown up with their kids my whole life and I’ve just gotten to know them my whole life.”
Two players currently on the Utes’ roster have connections to Falslev. The closest is freshman guard Rylan Jones, formerly of Olympus High School. Falslev said the two played on the same basketball teams for years all the way up until their high school year.
The other Ute Falslev will recognize upon his arrival is another freshman guard, Jaxon Brenchley. Brenchley, a former Mountain Crest and Ridgeline High School standout, was a senior during Falslev’s freshman season in 2016-17 and the two faced off early in the season with Sky View winning 69-62 over the eventual 3A champion Riverhawks.
Hillyard, who has coached Falslev all three years the 6-foot-3 guard has been at Sky View, said he’s learned from the young man despite many years of coaching.
“(Falslev has) taught me a lot about how great players bring it every day in practice as well as games,” Hillyard said. “He competes at everything he does and I think that’s just a tribute to why he’s as good as he’s become, is because he doesn’t ever want to lose in a drill, free throw competition, anything there is he never wants to lose.”
Last year wasn’t the only year Hillyard coached a future Division I signee on a state championship team. In 2012-13 season, Jalen Moore led Sky View to a 4A title in Hillyard’s second season as a head coach. Moore went on to star for Utah State University, appearing in 126 games and averaging 15.6 points his final three seasons in Logan.
“It’s pretty awesome to be able to coach a couple guys like that,” Hillyard said. “It’s a lot of fun to watch them grow and progress at the next level.”
The Falslev family turned out to be fairly busy Wednesday as a hop, skip and jump away from the room where Mason signed his letter of intent, his cousin, Kinley Falslev, officially signed with Utah State. Kinley starred for Green Canyon last season, averaging 11.7 points per game while making a blistering 40.4 percent of her 3-pointers on 7.4 attempts per game.
“I’m so excited for her, it’s so awesome for her,” Mason said of his cousin. “We’ve been working out every since we were young. Like third grade, we would go and shoot in the summer, and we would get better from each other.”
Mason won’t have much time to dwell on his commitment to the Utes as on Friday he will try to help Sky View advance to the 4A football state championship game in the role of a wide receiver. The Bobcats will travel to the football home of the University of Utah, Rice-Eccles Stadium, where SV will take on Dixie in a 4A semifinal showdown.
LOCAL SOCCER SIGNEES
At least four Cache Valley girls soccer players signed with Division I programs on Wednesday. Ridgeline’s Abbie Kotter signed with BYU, while teammate London Miller finalized her long-standing commitment to Utah Valley. Green Canyon’s Kylie Olsen and Logan’s Whitney Lopez were part of Utah State’s early signing class.
A story on these athletes, plus Kinley Falslev, will appear in a future edition of The Herald Journal.