ISU MBB: High school teammates Brandon Boyd, Gary Chivichyan climb record books together at Idaho State
POCATELLO — Long before Brandon Boyd and Gary Chivichyan started climbing Idaho State’s record books, they chased state titles together in high school.
The fourth-year ISU teammates are both decorated alumni of Southern California’s Bishop Alemany High School and Middlebrooks Academy. Both ended up at Idaho State, and both look back on their prep days fondly now — Boyd a recent addition to ISU’s short list of 1,000-point scorers and Chivichyan among the best 3-point shooters in ISU history.
But there was a time when it looked like neither player would get their shot at Division I basketball.
Boyd was a multi-year star at Bishop Alemany. He and Chivichyan teamed up as sophomores to win the school’s first state championship in 2012, and Boyd went on to earn all-conference, all-state and team MVP honors throughout his career. Chivichyan played more of a complementary role, but at the least was 1A to Boyd’s 1 by the time they were seniors.
Both players stuffed stat sheets, but were largely unrecruited through high school.
So both attended Middlebrooks for an extra year of pre-college schooling, basketball and, hopefully, more looks from Division I coaches.
Still, their college offers were sparse. Chivichyan committed to Idaho State on the spot, he said, when he was offered after a Middlebrooks game. Boyd didn’t get the call from Idaho State until August 2015, weeks before the start of fall classes.
ISU head coach Bill Evans is well connected with Middlebrooks coach William Middlebrooks, meaning the extra year for Boyd and Chivichyan likely helped them land in Pocatello.
“If we didn’t go to prep school, we probably would’ve had to go the (junior college) route,” Boyd said.
But their talent has always been evident, Bishop Alemany coach Tray Meeks said. He described Boyd and Chivichyan as the team’s one-two punch their senior season.
“Brandon was the obvious captain and leader of the team,” Meeks said. “And Gary was the scoring, shooting machine.”
Boyd was a multi-sport athlete, excelling in football and basketball. Meeks said Boyd never reached his potential in basketball because he split time with football. But the fearlessness and athleticism he’s shown at Idaho State were on display early.
Meeks recalls a game against league rival Crespi Carmelite in which Bishop Alemany trailed by 20 points in the third quarter. Boyd’s dunk over a 6-foot-5 defender sparked Alemany’s comeback and lifted the team to a league title that night.
Boyd, who is generously listed at 6-foot-1, has a knack for rising up out of nowhere and throwing down one-handed slams as a Bengal.
“Outside of winning state, it was one of the most fascinating plays he made,” Meeks said of Boyd’s high school dunk. “He was typical of that. Sneaky athleticism, very heady PG and just knew how to play the game.”
Boyd’s game-winning layup in the closing seconds of Saturday’s 72-70 win at Sacramento State was his second display of heroics in the last two seasons at Idaho State. He sunk a game-winning 3-pointer last season to vanquish the Idaho Vandals at home.
With a game on the line, that’s the responsibility Boyd wants. He’s comfortable making a play in the face of failure.
“That’s classic B Boyd,” Meeks said of Boyd’s game-winning baskets. “He’s a born winner and you see it in his play.”
Entering Thursday’s game at Weber State, Boyd ranks 22nd in ISU history with 1,012 points, 10th with 121 3-pointers made and eighth with an 81.4 percent clip from the foul line. He also ranks fourth in the Big Sky Conference this season in assist-to-turnover ratio and fifth in assists per game.
“He’s progressed,” Evans said. “He’s really grown as a player and as a person and has really done a nice job for us since he’s been here.”
Chivichyan, meanwhile, was a late bloomer with a background in mixed martial arts. Boyd and Meeks both laugh when they reflect on Chivichyan’s early days on the hardwood.
He could always shoot, they both say, but the rest of Chivichyan’s game was an afterthought.
“He wasn’t a basketball payer,” Boyd said.
“One of the worst,” Chivichyan confirmed.
“He was a little, squirrelly dude,” Meeks added.
Chivichyan’s scoring ability afforded him time on junior varsity as a freshman and a role on varsity as a sophomore. He eventually grew into his 6-foot-5 frame and refined his shot, while improving the rest of his repertoire.
Present day, Chivichyan is one of the Big Sky’s most deadly outside shooters. He’s hit 47.9 percent of his treys this season and has eight career games at ISU in which he’s canned five or more 3s.
Last season, Chivichyan made 35 3-pointers at a 44.3 percent clip to help ISU set new single-season program records for 3-pointers made and 3-point percentage.
For his career, Chivichyan is fourth in ISU history with 147 3-pointers made and seventh with a career 3-point percentage of 41.6.
“Gary’s probably grown as much as anybody since I’ve been at Idaho State,” Evans said, “as a person, as a player. … I’m proud of Gary.”
GAME INFO/SCOUTING REPORT
Thursday’s game tips off at 7 p.m. from the Dee Events Center in Ogden, Utah. Live video can be streamed at watchbigsky.com and Pluto TV. The radio broadcast is on 102.5 FM, and live stats are available at weberstatesports.com.
Weber State (10-6, 4-1 Big Sky) hosts ISU coming off back-to-back overtime games. The Wildcats were picked second in the preseason coaches and media polls and earned a marquee win over BYU in December.
Jerrick Harding (21.2 points per game) and Cody John (15.9 ppg) rank second and fourth, respectively, in the Big Sky in scoring this season. Brekkot Chapman leads the league in rebounds and blocked shots and has registered a double-double in four consecutive games.
The Wildcats have the Big Sky’s top scoring offense and score 52.2 percent of their points inside the arc, which could pose matchup issues for Idaho State (7-7, 3-2 Big Sky). Bengals opponents have made 54.9 percent of their 2-point shots this season — ranking 309th out of 353 Division I teams.
Weber State owns an 82-51 head-to-head record in the all-time series with Idaho State. ISU’s win last season in Ogden was the program’s first road victory against WSU since the 2006-07 season.