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March Madness: Former local players have shot at making NCAA tournament

Mountain View product Payton Dastrup is a sophomore at BYU after a church mission. (BYU athletics)

There is a strong contingent of college basketball players from the seven local boys basketball programs.

Here is a look at what their season has been like and if the NCAA tournament is still a possibility.

Kodi Justice, G, 6-5, 190, Sr., Dobson, Arizona State

Justice has been solid all season for the Sun Devils but took some heat in the regular season finale when he missed three free throws down the stretch in a one-point loss to Stanford in his final game at Wells Fargo Arena.

“Shots didn’t fall,” Justice said in the postgame presser. “They all felt good. It’s going to sting. This one hurt. This is my last game here. It means a lot to me. These people. This crowd. This one’s going to sting.”

He hopes to have a chance to make up for it in the NCAA tournament, which is more in doubt after losing in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament on Wednesday. Justice scored 14 in the loss to No. 8 seed Colorado.

In the first 30 games, Justice is third on the team at 12.5 points, third in steals (37), fourth is assists (54) while shooting 45.6 percent from the floor, 37.4 percent from 3-point and 67.8 from the free-throw line.

Dobson product Ryan Richardson is the second-leading scorer for Weber State. (Weber State athletics)

Ryan Richardson, G, 6-4, 185, Sr., Dobson, Weber State

Richardson has been the No. 2 scorer all season at 14.0 through 30 games. He is second in assists (66), second in steals (32) and fourth in steals.

He is shooting 46.8 percent from the field, including a team-high 91 3-pointers at a 43.3 percent clip to earn third-team All-Big Sky honors.

Weber State enters the Big Sky quarterfinals with 20 wins and the fourth-seed. It faces No. 5 Northern Colorado and will have to win tournament in order to make it back to the NCAA tournament, which the Wildcats did in 2016.

Teddy Allen, F, 6-5, 225, Frosh, Desert Ridge, West Virginia

Allen, who moved to Nebraska after his sophomore year at Desert Ridge, has averaged 11.8 minutes in the 29 games he has played in for the Mountaineers.

As they prepare for Thursday’s Big 12 Tournament game against Baylor, Allen averages 6.9 points and 2.7 rebounds. He’s made 46.1 percent of shots and 72.1 from the free-throw line.

His scoring has been all over the place with eight games where he didn’t score, but nine games of double figures including a season-high of 24 against Coppin State.

The Mountaineers are 22-9 and are a lock as a NCAA participant after entering Big 12 Tourney as the third seed.

Tommy Kuhse, G, 6-2, 185, Frosh, Mountain View, St. Mary’s

Kuhse played in 22 of the Gaels 33 games while averaging 0.5 points, 0.4 assists and 0.3 rebounds in 2.4 minutes a game.

St. Mary’s (28-5) is considered a bubble team after losing to BYU on the West Coast Conference semifinals.

Payton Dastrup, F, 6-10, 250, Soph., Mountain View, BYU

Dastrup and Cougars got past Kuhse and the Gaels, but lost in the WCC finals to Gonzaga to BYU’s future in the NCAA in question at 24-10.

Dastrup, who went on a mission to Panama after graduating in 2014, played in 31 games and was very efficient from the field as he shot .522 from the field and .462 percent (12 of 26) from the 3-point line.

In 7.4 minutes again, he averaged 3.2 points and 1.8 rebounds.

Jaron Hopkins, G, 6-6, 210, Sr, Dobson, Fresno State

Hopkins had a solid senior as the Bulldogs’ third-leading scorer (11.4 points), second in rebounds (5.7) and assists (3.1). His field goal percentage (.507) was nearly as high as his free-throw percentage (.577) until a foot injury ended his season on Feb. 5.

“It will be an adjustment,” Fresno State coach Rodney Terry said at the time. “We’ll miss Jaron. We’ll miss Jaron in a number of different areas, as a defender, as a guy who is the initiator of our offense, as a guy who can break down some guys.

As the fourth seed in the Mountain West tournament, the Bulldogs (21-10) probably need make the finals of the tourney, if not win it, to secure a spot in March Madness.

– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to jskoda@mynewsmesa.com.


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