SSHS seniors Ryan Swanson and Phil Smith announced their intentions Friday to play college basketball during a signing ceremony at the local school. Swanson signed a letter of intent to play at Doane College in Crete, Neb. Smith put his signature to a letter of intent that will send him to Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, Calif.
Swanson is a 6-foot 1-inch swingman. He was second-team High Desert League selection last winter after averaging 10.6 points per game. He led the Cougars in blocks, steals and rebounds.
“He has been in our program for four years. To see where his game has gone from when he was a freshman to now is exciting,” Spanish Springs coach Kyle Penney said. “He’s done everything we’ve ever asked. He doesn’t miss workouts. That’s all you can ask as a coach.”
Going to the midwest for college was always an option for Swanson. He had family members attend Doane, a private four-year NAIA school. He also has family in Nebraska.
“I went out there over spring break and I liked it,” Swanson said. “It had a good feel. The feeling of family you get from being on a team, I got that from the whole school. They’ve got a brand new gym and nice facilities. My aunt and uncle both went there. I’m excited.”
Swanson, who is an honor student at Spanish Springs plans to study medicine. He is the son of Bob and Shelley Swanson.
“I’m proud of him and excited for him” Shelley Swanson said. “I don’t want him to stop playing basketball. It seems like it just started and I don’t want it to end.”
The other Cougar basketball standout to sign Friday was Smith. The senior is a 6-foot 8-inch post. He played just his senior season at Spanish Springs after transferring from McQueen.
Smith said he chose Sonoma State after the Seawolves coaching staff began to show interest in him following his attendance at an SSU basketball camp last fall.
“I went to the camp and liked the school, the campus,” Smith said. “I liked that Sonoma is warmer than here and it’s a four-year school. I want to get the “college experience.”
After talking with the Seawolves coaching staff, Smith plans to redshirt his first year and play his freshman year of athletics in 2012-13.
“I only had the opportunity to coach him for one year and he progressed so much in the one year we had him,” Penney said. “His best basketball is ahead of him. By redshirting he’ll get to spend time learning their system and get a workout and training regimen. Everybody wants big people. He’ll just get stronger.”
Smith is undecided about his fields of study but said he’s considering business and computer science. He is the son of Michael and Barbara Smith.
Barbara Smith admitted she’s pleased with her son’s school of choice.
“I’m glad he’s going to a California state school. I’m happy it’s Division II,” she said. “I’m happy its somewhat close so we can go see him play and I’m glad it’s near the city but not in the city. I think it’s a school he can go for four years and finish.”