Former Vike to hoop it up in Arizona
Chris Ortiz is trading one mountain range for another.
The former South Tahoe High point guard will continue his basketball career, not in the Sierra Nevada, but high in the Eastern range of the White Mountains in Northern Arizona.
This fall, the 6-foot-2 point guard will enroll at Northlands Pioneer Junior College in Holbrook, Ariz., where he will compete for time at the shooting guard position.
“We were impressed with Chris’s overall ability, along with his quickness and ability to shoot the ball,” Northland coach Steve Troglia said.
Last weekend, Ortiz and his family traveled to Holbrook for a workout and to take a look at the campus. After the workout, both parties came away impressed.
Ortiz went through a workout which consisted of running and shooting and was able to show he could shoot the ball even while fatigued. He feels he is capable of stepping right in and helping his new team.
“It went great. Now I just need to jog a couple of miles every day to get into shape,” he said. “It’s a great college for an athlete to realize his potential.”
Troglia expects Ortiz to see significant minutes this winter as his team runs a very up-tempo style of play and uses the majority of his bench.
“With the style of the play we use, nine to 10 players could see time,” Troglia said. “Chris should see some playing time as long as he works hard.”
Ortiz, who began his final season as a forward for the Vikings, was quickly moved to point guard by Derek Allister and excelled at the position, directing STHS to an upset win over zone qualifier Douglas High in Minden.
In that contest, Ortiz poured in a career-high 31 points.
Allister used his connections at Northlands to help Ortiz get in contact with the coaching staff there, but Ortiz impressed them with his skills at the workout.
Allister feels Northlands is the perfect fit for his former guard.
“The small town atmosphere will good for him,” Allister said. “He told me he wanted to get closer to his dad (in New Mexico), and with my connections there I can keep track of him better.”
When Allister was the head basketball coach at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, he recruited a couple of players from Northlands and is a good friend with the athletic director and assistant coach Richard Zalenski.
“It’s a high-profile program which sends players to a lot of Division I programs like Lamar, New Mexico and Stephen F. Austin,” he said.
Ortiz said that was one of the reasons why he wanted to go to the school.
“They always have a lot of D-1 coaches at their games,” he said.
Troglia envisions his newest recruit possibly landing with a four-year school after his time at Northlands.
“With his ballhandling skills he has a great chance,” the coach said. “Once he learns the system, we hope he can develop into a top point guard.
“The thing that most impressed us about Chris was his interest in trying to get better and to learn how to get to the next level.”
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