It was a Saturday morning for San Diego State’s Matt Shrigley, and they don’t come much better.
La Costa Canyon, his alma mater, had secured the Beach Bowl in the previous night’s football game against rival Torrey Pines.
And Shrigley, the former Mavericks’ basketball star, wasn’t sore from riding the SDSU pine.
Shrigley is finally getting to shine for the Aztecs with his first action coming in a recent win over UC Riverside.
After redshirting his first year, Shrigley is red-hot about starting his second.
“It’s a whole new speed now,’’ he said.
Rewind to last November and Shrigley was a no-go on game days. With the Aztecs loaded with talent and Shrigley long on eligibly, a plan was floated like one of his soft 3-point jumpers.
Would Shrigley forgo his freshman season for one to be named later?
“He swallowed his pride to say, ‘I’m going to trade a year where I might not get to play much for a fifth year where I could be a whirling dervish,’’’ Aztecs coach Steve Fisher said.
Round and round the redshirting notion went around Shrigley’s noggin. While making sense, it’s hard seeing the big picture when the current one reveals playing on an NCAA Tournament-bound team.
“It was tough, a bummer,’’ said Shrigley, the main cog in those championship LCC teams which went 64-8 his final two seasons. “But at the end of the day it was only going to benefit my game. I could learn from my mistakes by playing on the scout team, get a feel for the game and get that extra year. That sounds like a long time from now but this college stuff goes by quick.’’
There goes a streaking 6-foot-6 Shrigley, sprinting to the corner. A few seconds later the forward’s 3-point effort is exiting the net’s bottom and The Show at Viejas Arena is roaring.
“Matt is a very good player,’’ Fisher stressed. “He’s going to play.’’
That’s because he didn’t pout. While his laundered practice jersey had that redshirt stain, Shrigley didn’t complain.
“At times I’m sure it was hard for him,’’ Fisher said. “His buddies were playing and he wasn’t and people that didn’t know any better were saying, ‘Aren’t you good enough to play at San Diego State?’
“So once you get past that Matt did a great job in growing as a player. He worked hard at his defense, worked hard in the weight room. He wasn’t going to regret it and used his decision to the best of his ability and made it a positive.’’
Shrigley’s in the eight-man rotation of a team which is lengthy and athletic. One year after banging bodies with Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley in practice, Shrigley has a role on a squad which is unknown, but not unlikely to have a solid year.
While there’s three new starters, there’s a sense the development of Xavier Thames, Winston Shepard, JJ O’Brien and Skylar Spencer — Shrigley’s roommate — and the addition of Tulane transfer Josh Davis, will have Montezuma Mesa rocking.
“The sky is the limit for this team.’’ Shrigley said. “We just got to be in our spots and play as a unit.’’
One of those spots belongs to Shrigley, as he runs the wings and adds his perimeter game to an offense in search of one.
“Anything the coaches need from me,’’ Shrigley adds.
Shrigley still requires some floor time to get right. But it beats being clear to the right of Fisher, far down on a bench he wouldn’t exit.
“Sometimes you got to get a couple of games under your belt to know that you belong,’’ Fisher said. “And Matt belongs.’’
Jay Paris can be heard talking Chargers football on 1090 AM on Monday and Friday mornings. He’s also the Wednesday morning co-host of “Hacksaw and Company.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @jparis_sports.
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports