The newest player on the UAA men's basketball team is uniquely qualified to help the Seawolves tackle the upcoming season.
He's a former Division I football player.
Travis Parrish, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound linebacker last year at Utah State, is switching schools and sports, and UAA is the beneficiary of his decision.
Parrish, who comes with three years of eligibility, was a three-sport star at Bountiful High School in Utah, where he earned first-team all-state honors in football and basketball and ran a personal-best 50.33 seconds in the 400 meters.
"His value is the fact that he's versatile," UAA coach Rusty Osborne said. "He's not gonna be a guy who's just gonna be a scorer or a big rebounder -- he's gonna be a guy who does a little of everything. He's grown up around athletics and he understands the small things that help teams win.
"He's the kind of guy who will get under an opponent's skin because he plays so hard. He's gonna be strong and know how to use that leverage to battle bigger guys."
Osborne said UAA got the heads-up on Parrish's availability from Parrish's dad. Norm Parrish, the director of basketball operations at the University of Utah, was the head basketball coach at Salt Lake Community College for 20 years, a span during which a couple of his players came to UAA after two years of junior college. Most notable among them are Drew Robinson and Mark Lenoir.
"It's like a lot of things, it's relationships," said Osborne, who often recruits out of Utah. "He called me this spring and indicated that Travis was going to make a change from football to basketball."
Osborne said the younger Parrish likes football and basketball equally, and chose football for college because Utah State offered him a scholarship early in his senior year of high school.
Parrish served a two-year mission to Malayasia between high school and college and redshirted his first year with the Aggies. Utah State had a new coach last season, and Osborne said the new staff wanted Parrish to gain more weight.
"He was at 225 and they wanted another 15-20 pounds," Osborne said. "He didn't really feel like that was in his best interest to do that, and at that point he made the decision to change sports."
Osborne said Parrish, who left Utah State at the Christmas break, has already lost some weight since leaving football. "I envision him playing around 210, 215," Osborne said.
Parrish will need some time to adjust to the college game after being away from organized basketball for four years. But Osborne said he expects a smooth transition that will allow Parrish to contribute almost immediately.
"He's a high-level athlete," he said. "He's got the work ethic -- you don't play Division I anything without that -- so he understands the ability to work hard and do things needed to get himself ready. And we need to make sure we don't have too many expectations too early."
UAA lost three key members of last season's 17-13 team -- Kyle Fossman, Colton Lauwers and Teancom Stafford. Parrrish is the team's sixth new recruit, joining 6-4 Derrick Fain, a transfer from The Masters College; 6-0 Dom Hunter, a transfer from Eastern Arizona, 6-1 freshman Damien Fulp of Colony High; 6-7 freshman Sjur Berg of Norway and 6-9 freshman Brian Pearson of Elko, Nevada.
Osborne said he expects to add a couple of more recruits later this summer.
Reach Beth Bragg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.
By BETH BRAGG