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Here’s the ‘skinny’ on the Vandals’ Ty Egbert

Idaho’s Ty Egbert, left, and Southern Cal’s Chimezie Metu vie for a rebound earlier this season. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
Idaho’s Ty Egbert, left, and Southern Cal’s Chimezie Metu vie for a rebound earlier this season. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Ty Egbert might be getting tired of people pointing out his weight. You see, Egbert is what you would call skinny. He’s well aware of it.

He arrived at Idaho in 2012 weighing “barely 200 pounds soaking wet,” he says. The official roster listed him at 195 pounds spread about his 6-foot-9 frame.

While many would love to boast those kind of genetics, it’s been a detriment to Egbert’s development, on top of other issues the power forward has encountered acclimating to Division I basketball.

Egbert finally seems to have it figured out in his fourth season on campus. Boasting a 220-pound frame, the redshirt junior embraces physical play under the basket more than ever and has found his offensive touch.

He’s having a career year and doing it under peculiar circumstances.

Egbert learned over the summer he was going to have to forfeit his scholarship if he was going to return to the team this season.

“It was just some issues I had with my own schoolwork, my own personal issues,” Egbert said.

He embraced it as just another obstacle. He overcame playing for Lake Roosevelt High, located in the small community of Coulee Dam, Washington, by playing with an AAU team that played tournaments in Seattle and California.

In his first career start in 2013, as a redshirt freshman, Egbert was ejected for throwing a punch under the basket at a Chicago State player.

He hadn’t started a game since until getting the nod at Northern Colorado this year. Since then he’s logged five starts, is shooting 57 percent from the field, logged a career-high 18 points in a loss at Montana State, logged 20 blocks on defense and ranks in the top 10 in the Big Sky in defensive-rebound percentage.

“I took that in not giving my scholarship this year as a challenge to myself,” Egbert said. “I was like ‘Hey, he (Verlin) wants to take it away, I’m going to show that I’m going to do whatever I have to do to help our team.’ ”

Egbert choosing to stay, and excelling, has proven to be desperately needed for the Vandals. Sophomore post Arkadiy Mkrtychyan had surgery on his dislocated left knee and hasn’t replicated the success of his freshman campaign while recovering.

Egbert has scored 56 points in his last five games.

“Ty is maturing, he’s growing up,” Verlin said. “He’s figuring what he has to do to be a good player. That’s what’s most surprising is the consistency of his production day in and day out.”

Usually you may find a post player of Egbert’s girth playing around the perimeter, learning how to put the ball on the floor and shoot. That’s never been Egbert’s deal. The paint is home, under the basket is where Egbert lives.

“Yeah, ever since I was a young kid my dad has always been teaching me to post by the hoop, get closer to the hoop,” Egbert said. “ … When I’m in the post all I have to worry about is which move should I do, how close am I? That’s one thing I’ve really liked about being in the post, I don’t have to worry about being out too far or out of my comfort zone, that’s one thing I like, where I’m comfortable.”

Egbert has former Vandal posts Kyle Barone (the WAC Player of the Year in 2013) and Joe Kammerer to thank for that. Playing against those guys in practice made him realize quickly the weight room is where he needed to be.

“Joe realy helped me big in the weight room, he was always pushing me to add more weight, do another rep, do whatever I have to do to add on strength and be stronger. And he really helped me with trying to eat right,” Egbert said. “Showing me what foods I should eat before games, what foods I should get away from, don’t eat so much candy, that was hard to get away from.”

For now, Egbert is in line to get plenty of playing time, regardless of the health of his teammates.

“We all earn our playing time through practice,” Egbert said. “Just practice is how we earn our playing time, he gave me that time because I earned it.”

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