Stephen Rogers knew Utah State has been throwing together 25-plus win seasons with regularity.
What he didn’t quite understand, is the passion Utah State fans have for their Aggies.
“I loved everything about it,” Rogers told the Deseret News Monday after he returned to Arizona from an official recruiting visit to Logan over the weekend. “I got to see the campus and the school and talked to a lot of people. I didn’t find anyone who had a single bad thing to say about the place.”
Rogers, the reigning Arizona Community College player of the year from Mesa Community College, said he was offered a scholarship by USU coach Stew Morrill and is giving that offer serious consideration.
Before he makes that decision, however, Rogers said he intends to make another official recruiting trip or two — including one to New Mexico — and, as he put it “reevaluate some things.”
Rogers, a 6-foot-8 small forward said he sees himself fitting in comfortably at Utah State. After just completing his freshman season at Mesa CC, the former Mesa Mountain View star that lead his team to back-to-back state championships in Arizona. Rogers sees himself creating mismatches for opposing defenders.
“I’m tall enough that they usually have to put a bigger guy on me and I can go around him,” Rogers said. “If they put a smaller guy on me, I’ll just post him up.”
But if there is a weakness to his game, Rogers said, it’s that he needs to become more physically strong and improve his defense.
“I need to bulk up,” the 185-pounder said. “That much I know.”
But Rogers is a shooter first.
At Mesa CC, he finished the year second in the conference in scoring (21.3 ppg), fourth in free-throw percentage (81 percent), and fifth in 3-point shooting (42.7 percent) making 85 of 199 attempts. He also grabbed 5.3 rebounds and shot 49.9 percent over all from the floor.
Utah State, Rogers said, is high on his list of places to play. Wherever he goes, Rogers will have three years of eligibility remaining but no redshirt available after spending one year at Arizona State following his LDS mission to Cleveland Ohio.
“The tradition, the atmosphere,” Rogers said. “They’re the three time defending WAC champs and have a great tradition of success there. Utah State is a great place. They’ve got a sweet program going on.”
Rogers spent his weekend in Logan being hosted by USU players Tyler Newbold, Morgan Grim and Matt Formisano. Because Rogers is also being recruited by Utah, he said he talked a little with Grim about the Utes and coach Jim Boylen. Grim, a former Mr. Basketball from Riverton High, transferred from Utah to USU last season.
“He knew I was be recruited by Utah, so he didn’t say too much to rip Utah or anything. He was pretty cool about that,” Rogers said. “But we have something in common so it was good to talk with him about transferring.”
Rogers left Arizona State after he and Sun Devil coach Herb Sendek “just didn’t see eye-to-eye on some things,” Rogers said. “It was time to move on.”
Rogers said he expects to make a decision in a couple of weeks. He’s got the New Mexico visit to make and said Dave Rose from BYU has recently been in contact with him.
Another recruit Utah State is interested in is California big man Zach Nelson.
While Rogers is more of a wing player at 6-8, Nelson is a low-post prospect at 6-8 and 220 pounds playing for Yuba City High School.
Nelson attended a USU home game late in the season and told the Deseret News he is giving USU serious consideration as well.
“It was incredible, the student section was insane,” he said of his unofficial recruiting visit. “I loved every minute of it. As far as my interest, USU is definitely an option I am considering.”
Nelson is LDS and, a source close to the USU program said, would likely be serving a church mission before putting on an Aggie uniform if he did sign with Utah State.