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The Orion

Division I basketball transfer to suit up for Chico State

Tanner Giddings
New Chico State basketball player Tanner Giddings practices dunking the ball at the Acker Gym. Photo credit: Emily Teague

It’s still two and a half months until the men’s basketball season tips off, but Tanner Giddings has high hopes for his new team.

Giddings spent the past two seasons playing for the Division I Fresno State team. This year, the 6 feet 11 inches athlete is joining the Chico State basketball team in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.

Several factors influenced Giddings’ decision to leave Fresno. He was originally on the recruiting radar of Wildcat head coach Greg Clink during his days at Windsor High School, but didn’t receive an offer from Chico State.

“Out of high school I had the mentality that I wanted to go Division I, but after a couple years I realized that it doesn’t really matter to me,” Giddings said.

The team’s historic success in reaching the NCAA Elite 8 last season was a big part of what drew him to Chico State, he said. He wanted to play with a team on the upswing and he wants to make it to the NCAA tournament himself.

Giddings joins a five-player 2014 recruiting class that will strive to replace four graduated seniors: Giordano Estrada, Amir Carraway, Sean Park and Rashad Parker.

Having six new members can take some getting used to, but he is confident in how he and the first-years are getting acclimated, he said.

“So far so good,” Giddings said. “Everyone gets along well. We’ve been having open gyms and we’ve gotten some good runs going. Everyone is pushing each other to keep getting better. The freshmen are still coming up to speed but for the most part we’re getting along pretty well.”

Giddings will also bring the experience of playing Division I basketball and being around some serious talent. During his first year, Giddings roomed with recently signed Miami Heat guard Tyler Johnson.

Giddings said he was glad for the opportunity to learn from the now-professional Johnson.

“It was good, I got to see his work ethic every day in practice,” Giddings said. “(Johnson) was in the gym 24/7 and it showed. You could tell from his junior to senior year he was a completely different player.”

Johnson was quick to praise the man he got to know well on and off the court at Fresno.

“Tanner became one of my good friends at Fresno,” Johnson said. “(He’s) one of the nicest people I’ve been around. Tanner is a worker but he is also a very smart player. He would know our scouting report every game and whenever he was in there with me, I was always confident that he would do whatever he could to put us in a position to win.”

Johnson said Giddings preferred to play on the perimeter rather than down on the block, but defensively he’s played against NBA-caliber talent for the last two years.

“Tanner undoubtedly has Division I talent and I believe he can help Chico State immediately,” Johnson said. “When Tanner plays with the confidence he showed signs of in Fresno, he could take Chico to another level. I have full confidence that Tanner will have a great end to his career at Chico State.”

Coming off one of the best seasons in school history, there are some lofty expectations for Chico State’s 2014-2015 team.

“Everyone is dedicated to having a good season, if not better than last year,” Giddings said. “I think everyone has the drive to do that. It’s just going to take time to see how far we can carry it.”

Regardless of his remaining two years of eligibility, his dream is to keep playing as long as he can, he said.

“I’m hoping to take basketball as far as I can take it,” Giddings said. “If I can go overseas and travel the world and see different places while getting to play basketball all through it, I think that’d be a great experience.”

“You gotta put your hard hat on every day, but I think it would be fun,” he said.

Nick Reddy can be reached at [email protected] or @NickIsReddy on Twitter.

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