The 4A state championship celebration hadn’t stopped when Hayden Curtiss’ phone started ringing.
In three days at the Tacoma Dome, the 6-foot-8 senior had strung together the three best games of his life. University of Portland assistant coach Tyler Geving was there to see the once-6-foot-1 freshman and second-to-last cut on Mount Si’s C-team prove to be an X-factor on a state title run.
Not long after, an offer came. On Saturday, Curtiss gave the Pilots his pledge.
“It was crazy,” Curtiss said. “Eight months ago I had a couple D-IIIs interested, now I’m committed to play basketball at a D-I school in the WCC.”
Curtiss’ 4A all-tournament-worthy performance in which he went 20 of 22 from the field over three games paved the way for a rise from a D-II/D-III prospect to secure a full-ride D-I scholarship.
“I had people telling me over the summer that it was doable for me,” Curtiss said, “and I was a little skeptical. I didn’t play last year, hadn’t played basketball for that long. Then over the next couple months I started to see how much better I got and started to believe.”
Curtiss also feels that playing for Mount Si with high-level players such as Montana State commit Tyler Patterson, Bennett O’Connor and Saint Mary’s commit Jabe Mullins gave him confidence. “Especially Jabe with how good of a passer he is,” Curtiss said.
If he could play — and excel — with these guys, Curtiss thought, and he could hold his own against some of the top high schools from around the country in a competitive tournament in California over the holidays, the sky is the limit.
Now he’ll be playing in the same conference as Mullins. And Portland coaches have told Curtiss they don’t want him to redshirt, or take a prep school year, as other Division I coaches told him. He was assured he’d be called on to play right away and wouldn’t be “pigeon-holed.”
“It’s just crazy how fast this came; feel like yesterday I was barely playing at all,” Curtiss said.