Soaring star

From the doghouse to the penthouse.

Riding the pine to riding the limo.

Whatever rags to riches analogy you choose, you could probably use it to describe the path of Bryant Markson’s college career.

The junior swingman, once a forgotten man on the end of Rick Majerus’ bench, has finally found his niche in Ray Giacoletti’s up-tempo system.

“It’s like the handcuffs have been taken off me,” Markson said. “(Coach Giacoletti) trusts me to go out there and do what I do. It’s beautiful to have that freedom.”

Markson is currently the third-leading scorer for the Utes, averaging 10.5 points per game.

It’s a far cry from last season, when the California native had no game where he scored in double figures.

While he has come a long way, Markson is still trying to refine his game. “I’m always focusing on my shooting,” Markson said, having spent the entire summer working on his shot. “I’m trying to be more of a leader out there. Talking on the court, getting everybody into their sets-that’s what I’m trying to elevate my game to.”

From the beginning, Markson was never particularly endeared to the Utes. When asked why he chose to come to Utah, he is very blunt with his answer.

“Tim Drisdom,” Markson said, referring to his friend and current teammate. “I wasn’t recruited by Utah. I don’t think they had even seen any of my games, but I told Tim wherever he went, I would go with him. We were a package deal.”

Even though he was being recruited by Kansas and Arizona, Markson made good on his promise and followed Drisdom to Salt Lake City. From the word go, it was a disaster.

The free-spirited Markson never fit into Majerus’ methodical system, and quickly became entrenched at the end of the bench. When Majerus left the program, Markson decided to leave himself, amid all of the uncertainty surrounding the new coach.

“I was going to leave after last year,” Markson said. “Me, Rich (Chaney), and Tim were all going to leave.”

Enter Giacoletti.

“He re-recruited us,” Markson said with a smile. “Coach talked to us, we decided to stay, and it’s been good.”

The result has been a near-perfect melding of Giacoletti’s style and Markson’s freakish athletic ability.

“It took me a while to buy into the system, but I did and it’s been great to me,” Markson said.

Even with his improved shooting and intense defense, Markson’s highlight-reel dunks are what Huntsman Center fans salivate over.

Against Air Force, Markson threw down a double pumping, reverse slam. He knows that under Majerus, that would have been a no-no.

“I would have been on the bench the whole game,” Markson says, shaking his head.

Luckily for Markson, his new coach has a different outlook on his high-altitude moves. “Coach told me after the Air Force game, ‘That was a nice dunk. I don’t think you had to go over your head, but it’s OK as long as it goes down.’ He told me, ‘You’re athletic. Get on the boards and dunk’ and all that good stuff.”

With the human development and family studies major’s present looking so bright, he hasn’t had much time to think about the future.

“After college, I don’t know,” Markson said. “If I play sports somewhere, that’s fine. I just want to do something with kids. Teaching maybe.”

Whatever his future may bring, Bryant Markson should be comfortable in knowing that while it took two years, he has finally become the player he wanted to be.

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