Garrett Fiddler's basketball journey returns this weekend to the state where it all began.

Garrett Fiddler's basketball journey returns this weekend to the state where it all began.

Fiddler, who played two years at St. Mary's High School in Medford before his family relocated to Colorado Springs, Colo., is currently the starting forward for Yale University.

The Bulldogs play tonight at the University of Portland and Monday at Oregon State, allowing the 6-foot-9, 235-pound sophomore to reunite with old friends in the Northwest.

"I've been looking forward to this for some time," Fiddler says. This is just his second trip to Oregon since moving in 2005. "For me personally, this is the highlight of our schedule. It'll be fun to be back in the home state again and see some friends around there."

There will be plenty of them, too.

St. Mary's boys coach Rick Jackson canceled today's practice and will travel with the varsity team as well as Fiddler's freshman coach Tim Pflug for the game in Portland.

Fiddler's mother Carol and sister Kendra, a standout prep volleyball player, will also make the trip to Oregon.

Two of his closest friends from St. Mary's, Richie Kaimie and Kris Slavinski, are University of Portland students.

"We are having a mini St. Mary's reunion," Jackson says. "For the program, it's fun. We are excited about what Garrett's done on the basketball court and in the classroom."

Fiddler led St. Mary's to consecutive third-place finishes at state as a freshman and sophomore in 2004 and 2005. He averaged 16 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots as a sophomore.

Jackson recalled a player who was just starting to realize his potential.

"When he was here with us, he played summer ball after his sophomore season, and he was just figuring out he was a dominant player," Jackson says. "As good as he was his freshman and sophomore years, his big leap was his sophomore summer. His body caught up with him. His sophomore year, he had maybe three dunks. That summer he must have had 12, when he figured out he could drop step and dunk on someone. I'm proud he was part of our program."

Jackson stayed in contact with the Fiddler family after their move. Dan, Garrett's father, served as Jackson's assistant coach during Garrett's two seasons with the Crusaders.

The family moved the August prior to Garrett's junior season, and he immediately became an impact for Thomas B. Doherty High, a Class 5A school.

He helped the Spartans to the state playoffs his junior season. As a senior, he led the state in blocks at six per game, and his team reached the state semifinals before losing to the eventual champion.

Fiddler was named all-state and the Metro League player of the year.

The National Merit Scholar said he chose Yale because, "it was a good fit with a combination of basketball and athletics."

He is majoring in English with an emphasis in short fiction writing.

"He's a pretty driven kid academically," Carol, his mother, says. "He's taken heavier loads than we think he should. But he's done extremely well. We're pretty impressed with his adjustment."

On the court, he's seen an increase in minutes this season for Yale (0-2).

Fiddler played in 20 games last season, averaging 1.3 points and 1.4 rebounds per game.

He's the Bulldogs third-leading scorer this season at nine points per game while in the starting role.

"This season is a lot different than last season," Fiddler says. "We were more of a transition team last year, and we were a little younger. This season has been fun so far."

He expects that to continue this weekend.

"I don't feel any extra pressure," he says of playing in front of friends and family. "It'll be fun to see coach Jackson and friends of mine."

Reach reporter Luke Andrews at 776-4469, or landrews@mailtribune.com