Scott Solan is a wiry 6-foot-7-inch lefty with a 37-inch vertical jump, giving him all the ideal traits to excel at … volleyball?
The 16-year-old Solan didn’t initially expect it, either.
But since quitting basketball in the eighth grade, the junior has evolved into one of the best volleyball players in the country and fulfilled a dream last weekend by committing to Pepperdine University.
Not bad for a lifelong hooper.
“Boys take to (volleyball) pretty well. It’s just a matter of getting them to play,” said Robert Rios, Solan’s club coach. “You don’t teach left-handed. You don’t teach body type … He was born with those special gifts.”
Solan’s parents were Division-I athletes at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, and he, too, gravitated toward athletics. He started with basketball and excelled during his childhood, but grew bored with the sport despite successes on the court.
So he began playing volleyball for Rios at Vegas United — the premier local club volleyball program — and earned a spot on USA Volleyball’s High Performance training team after auditioning for Team USA.
Solan prepped for USA Volleyball by attending a college camp at Pepperdine and said he fell in love with the school’s beachfront campus and the idea of playing in college.
He trained for a week with the national volleyball program at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and developed a new focus after unearthing his potential.
“I just felt like it was something I should really pursue, and really, really work hard at,” Solan said. “I felt like I could play in college.”
Inspired and motivated, he started working toward his goal of becoming a Division-I player by studying tape of professionals and refining the nuances of his game.
“He consumes the game and loves the game,” Rios said. “And that’s one of the things that separates him in terms of how he progresses more quickly than maybe some of his other contemporaries. You couple that with some of those physical gifts, and it makes him very special.”
Solan attends West Career and Technical Academy, which doesn’t offer athletics. But he’s zoned for Palo Verde High School and plays high school volleyball for the Panthers, who he helped to a Class 4A state championship as a sophomore in 2017.
Palo Verde coach Phil Clarke said Solan’s combination of size, length and explosiveness forces opponents to alter entire game plans.
UCLA, USC, Long Beach State, BYU and Loyola Chicago also recruited Solan.
But Pepperdine’s scholarship offer trumped them all.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Solan said. “Committing to a school you’ve loved for a long time, and a school that (has) always had a special feeling in your heart.”
Contact reporter Sam Gordon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.