It’s an experiment that has true benefit and merit, but also one with a big hill to climb before permanent implementation throughout...
When it came time to choose their colleges, neither Yaremi Mejia or Justin Bohn gave much pause.
Their intentions have been clear for some time.
Mejia, the South Medford junior point guard who orchestrated perhaps the finest girls basketball season the state has seen, has committed to Portland State and plans to sign a letter of intent with the NCAA Division I Vikings on Monday at the high school.
Bohn, who was a three-sport standout at Phoenix High before turning his attention to baseball as a freshman last year at Feather River College in Quincy, Calif., will play one more year for the Golden Eagles before joining the successful Oregon State program.
So sure was Bohn that he wanted to be a Beaver, he signed his letter on Wednesday but will make his official visit to the Corvallis school this weekend, taking in practice today, meeting with coaches and players and attending OSU's football game against California Saturday.
The early signing period for basketball and baseball began Wednesday and ends Tuesday.
Mejia had received a smattering of interest from college coaches after her sophomore season. By the time the Panthers, with the 5-foot-6 Mejia running the show, captured the Class 6A state championship with a 30-0 record — the first perfect season in state big-school history — the overtures escalated considerably.
"Even though she had a phenomenal season last year, she was still kind of under the radar," said South Medford coach Tom Cole.
In the state tournament, Mejia was the Panthers' leading scorer in the semifinal and final wins and was voted the MVP of the title game, a 61-46 triumph over Westview. However, she didn't make the all-tournament team.
She was on the all-state second team.
She averaged 10.8 points per game and more than six assists, three rebounds and three steals per contest.
In summer ball, the Panthers played roughly 50 games, most of them against top-flight club teams from major markets.
Portland State head coach Sherri Murrell and assistant coach Colby Matney — who made the first contact with Mejia — watched during a college preview tournament in Portland, then went to Los Angeles to see her play again.
Soon after, Murrell offered her a full scholarship. Mejia visited the school in September and was sold.
"It's not that far from home and my parents can come and visit me," said Mejia.
She and Matney hit it off immediately. He reminded her of Cole, who has coached her since youth ball.
It was Matney who encouraged her to relax during the college preview tourney with Murrell courtside.
"Coach Colby said, 'Just bring your 'A' game and don't get nervous,'" said Mejia. "'Show coach Murrell you deserve to be on the team and that we really need you. Show us you're a good fit for the team.'
"And I did. I showed them."
Portland State's starting point guard is a senior, Courtney VanBrocklin, who is an inch taller than Mejia and wears the number 23, the same as Mejia.
Murrell has already offered the number to Mejia.
"It was pretty cool when she said that," said Mejia.
Murrell and Matney "think she's a kid who can come in and help them immediately," said Cole.
The Vikings were 15-14 overall last year and 7-9 in the Big Sky Conference, tying for sixth in the nine-team conference.
Bohn, meanwhile, will complete his sophomore season at the California junior college before embarking on his own Division I career — provided the professional ranks don't lure him away.
Bohn was the Golden Valley Conference player of the year last spring after batting .413 with 43 RBIs and 51 runs. He also stole 18 bases and had a slugging percentage of .645, leading the Golden Eagles to a 32-8 record.
"He's improved a lot since he got here," said Feather River coach Terry Baumgartner. "He's developed himself into Pac-12 player. He's a great kid who works hard in the weight room, works hard in the classroom and took advantage of his time here. His goal was to become a Division I player, and he's done that."
Another season similar to the one he's coming off of could make Bohn a selection in the top 15 rounds of the major league draft, said the coach.
Baumgartner has sent a handful of players to Oregon State in his six years. He has "two or three" Division I signees each year, he said, noting that Bohn's teammate, pitcher Michael Bennett, signed with West Virginia.
Bohn, a shortstop, has an older brother, Jeff, who is a senior at Oregon State. Beyond that, Bohn didn't have any particular ties, other than following the Beavers closely when they claimed NCAA championships in 2006 and '07.
Bohn had interest from other schools around the country, he said, "But Oregon State was my dream school when I was growing up and watching them play."
He's watched OSU play at home and lauded the school and it's facilities.
"Everything they have is top-of-the-line stuff," he said. "That'll help me develop as a player even more."
Under head coach Pat Casey, the Beavers won 41 games last season, giving him at least 30 wins in 11 of his 17 seasons at the school. OSU has made the postseason six of the past seven years.
Before Bohn arrives to try to increase those numbers, he has work to do at Feather River.
Although he'd love to duplicate last season's accomplishments, that isn't his focus.
"I'll probably try not to think about it," said Bohn, "not let it stress me out. This will be a new year. You can only live off that success for so long. I'm not going to forget about it, but I'll clear my head and start a new year."
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email firstname.lastname@example.org