As a junior, Palo Verde boys basketball player Michael Buchanan was a 6-foot-6-inch center rarely in the spotlight.
But Buchanan sprouted to 6-10 as a senior, and his game blossomed enough to secure a future at the Division I level.
Buchanan recently committed to South Carolina Upstate and plans to sign with the Spartans when the spring signing period opens April 11, Panthers coach Jermone Riley said.
“It’s an example of what hard work can do for you,” Riley said. “Mike, in addition to growing a few inches over the summer, got in great shape, put in the time to improve as a player, and it was evident.”
South Carolina Upstate was Buchanan’s only Division I scholarship offer, but Riley called Buchanan a steal on the recruiting trail.
Buchanan is active around the basket and athletic for his 250-pound frame. He shot 55 percent from the field as a senior, averaging 12.3 points and 8.2 rebounds on his way to second-team All-Northwest League honors as Palo Verde (19-6) reached the Sunset Region final.
“(USC Upstate) loved the fact that at 6-10, he had good hands, soft touch around the basket and great footwork for his size,” Riley said. “They’ve got a diamond in the rough. They do a good job evaluating talent.”
Buchanan averaged only 2.3 points and 3.4 rebounds as a 6-6 junior, but Riley said he combined an improved work ethic with his growth spurt to become a Division I talent.
“I think the biggest area was passion for the game,” Riley said. “He decided that he wanted to be a Division I player. I’m very proud of him.”
Buchanan will join a winning program. South Carolina Upstate, an Atlantic Sun Conference school located in Spartanburg, S.C., went 21-13 this season and reached the second round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.