Despite missing workouts for nearly a week with an injury that required his teeth to be reset and braces put in, sophomore Logan Power didn’t look like he missed a step. Shots were falling for Power during his workout on Friday and the broken bone in his jaw did little to hold him back.
It’s this work ethic and devotion to the game that earned the former walk-on a scholarship. Coyote head coach Craig Smith raved about the way Power carries himself.
“You can’t say enough great things about Logan Power,” Smith said. “His teammates would say the same thing — guys love playing with him. He works extremely hard in the weight room and in his skill development. Watching him do this workout today, it’s amazing how much better he’s gotten over two years.”
Smith’s appreciation for Power was evident in the speech he gave when he awarded Power his scholarship. The speech has since gone viral, ending up on major sites such as NBC Sports and Yahoo! Sports. Smith announced the scholarship on the final day of the team’s trip to Spain over the summer.
For Smith, the emotion on display was real, and the words were off the top.
“I didn’t write anything out, I felt like Dick Vermeil there for a little bit,” Smith said referencing the notoriously emotional football coach. “I get a little emotional at times but usually I can get through it.”
For Power to hear the news in front of his friends, teammates and coaches, the news was overwhelming.
“To hear that was just incredible and I will never forget that. I wasn’t expecting it at all, I wasn’t ready for it at all,” Power said. “I was completely shocked. It was an incredible feeling.”
That feeling came after years of hard work for the Lincoln, Nebraska, native, who had his fair share of options when he chose USD.
Coming out of high school, Power was not set on what he wanted to do. Not only was he an all-state basketball player who averaged 21 points per game his senior year, Power was also a first team all-state quarterback and defensive end at Lincoln Christian High School. The choice between the two sports came down to which one he really cared about more.
“The recruiting process was a super long process,” Power said. “It took me forever to decide what sport I wanted to play. I had a lot of good options for both sports and it ended up being basketball because I decided that I loved basketball more.”
Although the offer of playing both sports at a smaller school was enticing, the chance to play Division I basketball was too big to pass up.
“I explored playing multiple sports at a smaller college, but it ended up being basketball and once I decided basketball I kind of started looking at my options and I decided USD was my best option,” Power said.
By choosing to walk-on at USD, Power was passing up a chance at a free education in a lower division.
“He had some full ride Division II offers, so that’s a tough decision when you have a debt-free education guaranteed, or you bet on yourself and bet on our coaching and you’re betting on USD that maybe eventually he’ll get a scholarship at a Division I school like South Dakota and it certainly paid off,” Smith said.
Pay off it did, but it wasn’t without a lot of time and effort put in. His first year in, Power decided to sit out as a redshirt. Switching from playing forward to guard and adjusting to the pace of Division I take time.
“I came in and I knew that I probably was not going to get much time, if any, that first year,” Power said. “I played post in high school so I was making the transition to more of a perimeter player, so I felt like that redshirt year would help me a lot with that and just getting stronger in the weight room and it did. That redshirt year was great for me. It’s a grind but it payed off big time.”
That time off and hard work in the weight room showed.
“You see every day what guys are doing and if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. If you’re just maintaining status quo you’re getting worse,” Smith said. “Logan clearly has gotten better and it’s hard not to reward a guy like that — that does everything you ask, that’s always going to represent your program in a positive fashion, that everybody completely respects. It’s just hard not to reward that guy.”
After sitting out his first year, Power got his shot late last year. Out of USD’s final 11 games, Power played in nine. This included averaging four plus points in just eight minutes played throughout the final six games of the season.
While some coaches may have overlooked Power due to his walk-on status, Smith dispelled the notion that walk-ons shouldn’t play over scholarships.
“I’ve been on coaching staffs where they say, ‘Oh, he’s just a walk-on’ and I think that’s a bunch of garbage,” Smith said. “If you’re on our team, you’re on our team for a reason.”
All of Power’s hard work has not been lost in the classroom. Last year he was named to the Summit League honor roll and was put on the Summit League Commissioner’s List of Academic Excellence.
“He’s just the epitome of what a USD basketball player’s about,” Smith said. “He’s gotten one B in his life and that was his freshman year in whatever class and I think he had an 89 percent and I think his teammates would say the same.”
Now the team gets ready for what could be a breakout season for the program. The new Sanford Coyote Sports Center will be on display and 10 of the 15 on the roster are new players, either transfers or freshmen. This new-look team has lofty goals for the season and Power is ready to help them get there.
“The number one goal is we want a Summit League title. We’re not going to stop until we get there,” Power said. “That’s the goal every single day and that’s what we’re working towards. That’s what we’re grinding for and every one of these guys has bought in and you can tell. The Spain trip really helped with that and you can tell that we’re ready, more so than last year, we’re ready to go.”
As the Coyotes focus on the task ahead, it’s hard to think the Spain trip won’t be in the back of Power’s, Smith’s and the team’s mind. Before giving the speech, a call to Power’s mom helped put things into perspective for Smith.
“I called his mother beforehand. So it was 2 o’clock our time, 7 a.m. Lincoln, Nebraska, time, where he’s from. Usually when you get a phone call at 7 a.m. you’re kind of expecting it not to be a good phone call, so I quantified that when I left the message,” Smith said. “She called back and she said some very, very positive things and she got very emotional.”
That emotion shined through Smith, Power and the team. It helped to show that sometimes the best moments for a team are off the court.
“That kind of triggered it a little bit when I was talking to Logan because I was so proud of him,” Smith said. “But I was thinking a little bit about some of the things his mom said and just how proud we were of him as a coaching staff and it all came together and got the best of I guess you could say, but everything was heartfelt and it couldn’t have happened to a better person.
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