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October 30, 2013

Van Dyke fulfills a dream

It was night to remember - another upset, one of many in the Majerus Era. As the clock ticked down and Alabama's Erwin Dudley missed the putback, fans flooded the floor of the Huntsman Center as the University of Utah knocked off the number one ranked Crimson Tide.

One of the many fans that stormed the court was a third grader, a die-hard fan who would later grow to become a star in his own right, being named the UHSAA's 4A MVP as a senior. Eleven years after that historic night, freshman guard Parker Van Dyke is about to lace them up for the Utes and contribute as a key cog in Utah's rebuilding efforts.

"I've grown up being a Utah fan my whole life and I've really been looking forward to playing for them for a long time. Now that it's real, now that it's about to happen, I'm really excited and it's just going to be a lot of fun to put on the uniform and officially be a Ute," claimed Van Dyke.

As a deadly shooter, Van Dyke is well aware of his most prominent asset that he brings to the team, but he is ready to do whatever the team asks him to do. "I'm just going to try to help the team out as much as I can, whatever it takes whether it's making up open shots or creating things for other people," he continued. "I'm trying to improve my defense as well so I can be a good defensive player. Just be a good overall guard for the team and just be the best that I can be."

At 6-foot-3 inches, Van Dyke is a solid fit in the Utes' system, where there is not necessarily a designated point guard or shooting guard. "I'm a combo guard, I'd say. Just a guy that can knock down open shots, spot up in the corner and hit shots too, be able to come off screens, bring the ball up the floor, and create plays for others," he said.

The transition to D-1 basketball has been a comfortable one so far for Van Dyke as he has been able to lean on fellow local Jordan Loveridge, as well as players like Jeremy Olsen and Dallin Bachynski. So what is the best advice any of those guys have given him so far?

"Just to come into every practice and enjoy it," explained Van Dyke. "Don't be timid, don't be shy when you're playing, and just play like you know how to play. Play like you know how to play, play like you belong on the team and that you belong on the floor with the other players, and just have a great time while you're here."

Van Dyke, who will try to leave in mid-May for an LDS mission, put in a lot of work to prepare for his freshman campaign. "[I was] gaining weight, putting on some muscle because it's a different, bigger, stronger, faster game at the Pac-12 level. Then also just trying to buy into the defensive system. Everyone needs to kind of focus on the defensive side because that's where you win ballgames," he said.

Although Friday night may just be an exhibition game for Utah basketball, it is more than that for this lifelong Ute.

"It's going to feel like a dream come true, really," he explained. "I've been watching so many games. I've seen so many good Utah players and Utah teams. Now to be a part of it's going to really special for me and it's going to be really fun."

And if he has his way, one day another future Ute will rush the court after Van Dyke hits one of the biggest shots in the history of a proud program.



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