One of Utah’s most athletic high school boys basketball players from the class of 2020 won’t have to travel too far from home to play in college.
Recent Sky View graduate Sam Phipps has accepted a scholarship offer from the College of Southern Idaho and will sign with the Golden Eagles after serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Phipps’ mission to South Africa starts on Sept. 24, although there is a chance he will temporarily be reassigned somewhere stateside due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Sam Phipps will be a great addition to our roster when he returns from his mission for the 2022-23 season,” CSI head coach Jeff Reinert said in a press release. “Sam is an incredibly athletic and versatile forward that can defend multiple positions. He experienced a great deal of success with his high school program and we look forward to him bringing his winning mentality to CSI.”
Phipps teamed up with Mason Falslev to form the most dynamic duo at the 4A level as a junior and senior. Falslev and Phipps helped propel the Bobcats to back-to-back state championship game appearances and the 4A crown in 2019.
The son of Kimberly Phipps and Nathan Phipps was a two-time first-team all-region selection, a second-team all-state honoree as a junior and garnered first-team all-state accolades as a senior. Additionally, the 6-foot-6 forward was named the MVP of the 4A state tournament as a junior.
The Bobcats went 21-4 this past season and shared the Region 11 title with Ridgeline. Indeed, it was a memorable two seasons at Sky View for the former Mountain Crest player, who now resides in North Logan.
“I was talking to Mason about it the other day ... and he was like, ‘man, I’m so glad you decided to come to Sky View,’” Phipps said. “And yeah, it was amazing. I’m definitely going to remember it forever.”
Phipps was averaging 15.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game as a senior before suffering a knee injury late in the season. No. 34 still averaged 12.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.0 blocks an outing, and knocked down 53 percent of his field goal attempts.
Phipps poured in a career-high 26 points on 9 of 13 shooting in a 74-62 victory over Logan, and recorded double-doubles against Olympus and Bear River this past season. He finished one point or rebound shy of a double-double in games against Weber, Corner Canyon, Herriman, Morgan, Ridgeline, Green Canyon and Bear River, to boot.
The explosive dunker contributed with 13.6 points, 7.8 boards and 1.6 blocks per contest as a junior. The Wellsville native performed extremely well in the state tourney and capped of his junior season by tallying 21 points (11 of 13 shooting), 11 boards and five blocks against Bear River in the championship game.
Phipps was also considering an opportunity from Division III program Carroll (Wisconsin) University and a preferred walk-on offer from the University of Utah, where he would have eventually been reunited with Falslev. The chance to play “fairly close to home” and get his education paid for is something Phipps ultimately couldn’t pass up.
“It means everything, really, because as long as I can remember it’s always been my dream to be able to at least play at the college level, and so I’m really looking forward to it,” Phipps said. “I’m super excited.”
CSI is a perennial top 20 team at the junior college level, although the Twin Falls-based program is coming off a rare average season. The Golden Eagles went 16-15 during the 2019-20 campaign, including 5-7 in conference play.
The College of Southern Idaho is well known for sending its athletes to four-year programs. In the past few years, two Cache Valley players — Sky View’s Jake Hendricks (Wyoming) and Preston’s Brayden Parker (Idaho State) — have parlayed their success with the Golden Eagles to Division I scholarships. Hendricks is CSI’s all-time leader in 3-pointers (191) and helped lead the Golden Eagles to the NJCAA national championship game in 2018.
“I’m super excited,” said Phipps, who went on to thank Sky View head coach Kirk Hillyard for “everything,” including helping him get recruited. “That’s one of the main reasons why I committed there and that’s why they were my top choice for JUCO (programs) is because I play with Jake Hendricks a lot and he only has good things to say about them. And yeah, I’ve known a few of their players that have went there and then have gone on to play at four-year programs. It’s a great opportunity.”