April 27, 2012

It clicked for Salmonson

Kevin McCarthy

It's impossible to predict when or even if the proverbial turning point -- the getting it -- but actually more so, the performance of it, finally kicks in. It's the moment where the labored becomes the instinctual. For most if not all on the basketball court, it's a matter of repetition until the awkward, mechanical attempt becomes the second nature movement. However, some never reach that breakthrough. Ryan Salmonson of Cosumnes River College (CRC) did and now he owns a D-1 basketball scholarship.

photo of Ryan Salmonson

Two years ago, Salmonson came out of Colfax High as a veritable diamond in the rough. He stood a very thin 6-foot-10. The potential was there but, as with so many, would it be realized?

Heck, Salmonson was first introduced to organized hoops as a high school freshman and that happened because a coach noticed he was tall. As he self describes his situation then, "I just started playing as a freshman. I couldn't do a dropstep, I couldn't make a layup."

One older brother was into skateboarding and snowboarding but there were no organized athletic achievement precedents in the Salmonson clan.

However, he had one thing in his favor.

"I have a really good work ethic."

Even as a frosh at CRC, there was no immediate or grand breakthrough. Call it a hard slog.

CRC Head Coach James Giacomazzi remembers: "When I first met Ryan, he hadn't grown into his body as yet. He was real quiet but the nicest kid ever. Early on, he was driving down from Colfax [approximately 60 miles]. As a freshman, he played some minutes. But nothing came easy for Ryan. The first semester was really tough."

Salmonson concurs.

"My first year out of high school, I was just a skinny guy. When I got here, I was living with a guy [a teammate] I didn't know and not playing well. I got super down on myself and started thinking ‘I just want to go get a job.’"

But someone reached out.

"Coach Nick [Podesta, a CRC assistant coach], he made me real comfortable."

Giacomazzi immediately saw something in Salmonson.

"He wants to be good, he wants to get batter and he has a great attitude. After a year, he gained more confidence. Against Las Positas, I had to leave him in and he went for 26 [points] and 15 [rebounds]. I said to my coaches, ‘we have something here.’"

Later, it was 39 points and 19 boards against Chabot, then 30 and 15 versus Merced.

A highlight was going 15-15 from the field in the Merced victory.

"It was a game that sort of shocked me," Salmonson explained, "one of those games where you play your heart out. Prior to that, I was feeling down because I wasn't playing great. When Coach Nick told me ‘you went 15-15,’ I thought, ‘wow, I can play.’ It boosted my basketball confidence and definitely helped me the rest of the season."

About matters clicking on the court, Salmonson is still a bit baffled.

"I have no idea what it is. One day, I woke up and finally figured out how tall I was. I now know how to use my body."

Giacomazzi has an opinion: "everything Ryan has achieved is because of his work ethic."

One element that never wavered despite the on-court challenges was Salmonson's academics -- he sports a 3.0+ grade point average.

So why the University of North Dakota for him and what will the junior-to-be bring to the Fighting Sioux program?

"All the coaches were nice guys. I also met with and played with the players and they seemed like really good character guys . It just clicked for me. What I hope to bring is a 6-foot-10 athletic guy who can run [try a 5:17 mile], jump high and plays with a lot of aggression offensively and defensively in the paint."

Salmonson especially wanted to thank "my Dad and my Mom, who definitely made it possible" and "my brothers and sisters who were huge supporters" in aiding his journey and latest achievement.