Fast Break Scholarship

Utah native’s whirlwind recruitment to EvCC’s men’s basketball team


Nathan Blackwell

Bolles (middle, red) launches a shot during practice.

Basketball is a sport that relies on quickness and agility. Decisions and quick-twitch reactions on the court occur in milliseconds. Comparatively, Connor Bolles’ six-day scholarship journey to EvCC took a lifetime.  

Faced with making a fast, life-altering choice over the course of a weekend in September.  His decision would lead to him becoming the latest member of the Trojan men’s basketball team.

Bolles, 21, grew up in Lehi, Utah about 30 minutes south of Salt Lake City. A natural athlete, he primarily played football and baseball. After being cut during tryouts for his seventh grade basketball team, Bolles didn’t play for a school again until his sophomore year of high school.

He started taking basketball more seriously, began dunking shortly thereafter and even won a state championship. Then he called a timeout. After graduating high school in 2016, Bolles spent the next two years working, playing video games and hanging out with friends.

“After high school I took two years off and I just kind of woke up one morning and I was like I’m not really doing anything with my life. I’m not really progressing in any way, I’m not really growing,” he says. Armed with a new perspective, Bolles decided to start playing basketball again with the goal of one day going to college.

Fate intervened when Bolles ran into Izzy Ingle, his basketball coach from high school, at a concert the following weekend. He asked the coach for any ideas of how he could play junior college basketball. Bolles recalls Ingle saying, “Well actually there’s a showcase coming up in two weeks and I can get you in.”

Having not played competitive basketball in two years, Bolles was unsure of himself. “I was pretty nervous at first, because I was just like, damn I’m not going to be ready in two weeks. I just decided I wanted to play again,” he says.

Ingle reassured him about his physical condition and basketball skills. Bolles says, “So, he’s like, ‘You’ll be good, they recruit bodies and stuff. I’m sure you’ve still got it.’ ” Bolles spent the next two weeks honing his game and working with a trainer, preparing for the Sept. 15 Mountain Hoops Fall Showcase.

Trojan men’s basketball coach Mike Trautman was suddenly down a player in August. “Our returning big man from last year, didn’t do so well in his summer classes. We found out late and we were scrambling,” he says.  Trautman, who routinely scouts for players in Utah twice a year, says, “So, I went down there, and we started playing and by the end of the day it was pretty obvious that Connor could help us right away.”

Bolles describes, “I went to the showcase and after the first game is when I met Coach Trautman and (Assistant) Coach Nick Fantini. And they offered me to come play with them after the first game.”

Key to the decision about coming to Everett was Bolles’ family. After speaking with them during the showcase Trautman says, “They’re a family that gets it, their son has been doing nothing for two years and they didn’t really want him to put it off for a third year.”

With the Fall 2018 quarter starting at EvCC in just nine days, Coach Trautman wanted Bolles’ decision by Sunday night. “So, it all kind of worked out. They told me about the housing situation where I’d be living with a booster, have my own room and all that. So, that was Saturday and I called them Sunday night and I told them that I was going to come,” Bolles says.

Bolles spent the next three days getting ready to leave for college and hit the road on Thursday morning with his mom and sister. Their 12 hour drive together became a valued part of Bolles education. “I started off driving and I was just talking to my mom and I honestly got a lot closer to her, and I just felt like a deeper connection with my sister and my mom,” he says.

The next morning, Bolles attended a school breakfast for athletes before registering for classes. Trautman says, “We had him registered by that Friday afternoon. Classes were kind of tough to get because it was so late in the quarter, but we got them figured out and we happened to get lucky with the living situation.”

Friday afternoon continued in whirlwind fashion with a team practice and then moving Bolles into the booster house where he will be staying for the year.

After basketball practice Saturday morning, Bolles was then able to spend the rest of the day with his mom and sister before dropping them off at the airport that night. Currently pursuing his education in nutrition at a college he wasn’t even aware existed until right before the quarter started, he says, “I was faced with the decision to take this and just jump into the unknown.”

Bolles and the Trojan men’s basketball team begin regular season play with 6 p.m. home games Nov. 17 & 18, at the Walt Price Student Fitness Center.