Chico State basketball eager to return to playing


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Graphic made by Hana Beaty

With last season being cut short and this season in question due to COVID-19, players and coaches are trying their hardest to stay in shape and be prepared for the 2020-2021 season.

The Wildcats had a stellar 23-7 record before an abrupt end to the season due to COVID-19.

“I have been running, lifting and getting shots up at a local outdoor hoop in Chico,” said Dylan Belquist, a third-year transfer student from Salt Lake Community College. “I get shots up every day and occasionally me and some teammates will go play pick-up basketball as well.”

Kaleb Carter, a third-year transfer student from Columbia College, took this time to try out new and creative workouts.

“Since we aren’t allowed to work out, the fun part to me is being creative,” Carter said. “I like to jump rope and use all types of things like resistance bands, medicine balls … stuff like that to get the closest feeling I can of being in the gym.”

Head Coach Gregory Clink knows his players are doing all they can during this strange time.

“They are doing their best to stay in shape by doing home workouts with weights and other bodyweight strength training exercises,” Clink said. “Several of them had workout coaches during the summer, but the ones in Chico now are relying on outdoor courts.”

Coach Clink dealt with a peculiar recruitment process following COVID-19 guidelines.

“We signed three student athletes over Zoom meetings when normally we would have them visit,” Clink said. “I felt like we did a good job of getting three really good players during that time without being able to have a campus visit.”

Belquist was being scouted by schools including San Jose State, Montana State and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).

“Chico State was the one school who stayed recruiting me consistently,” Belquist said. “Even back to high school they had reached out to me so I had some familiarity with the coaching staff.”

Carter was in the middle of his season at Columbia College when Assistant Coach Mark Darnell reached out to him.

“I was focusing on my season at the time and didn’t want to visit colleges,” Carter said. “We were going to schedule a visit after my season was over, but then COVID happened.”

“Coach Darnell and coach Clink were one of the first ones to reach out to me and I grew a connection with them over the phone,” Carter said. “I felt like I knew them as well as I could without actually physically meeting them.”

The ability to practice as a team has been taken away, but that does not mean team chemistry will falter.

“I am not concerned with our team chemistry,” Clink said. “We have a great returning group and I know that once we are able to get together our chemistry will be great.”

Carter and Belquist are new to the squad, but already feel like they have a connection with returning players.

“One of the most important things for me is my relationship with my teammates,” Carter said. “Some teammates reached out to me, Josh Hamilton and Isaiah Brooks to name a couple. That’s what gave me the certainty.”

“We talk all the time,” Carter said. “I feel once we are all together we are all going to click instantly.”

“I have met guys from the team and they seem like great guys,” Belquist said. “Once we get practices started I think we will all get together and build off the success the guys had last season, as we did not lose many players.”

Clink is proud to be the head coach for the Wildcats.

“I am extremely proud of our players,” Coach Clink said. “They remain optimistic and have positive attitudes. They are doing well in school and are excited to get back in the gym.”

Players and coaches are eager to get back on the court to assert the dominance they showcased last season.

Nick Despotakis can be reached at or @nick__despo on Twitter.