Prizina was a first-team all-region selection on the hardwood and diamond
Spanish Springs basketball and baseball standout Josh Prizina is the Sparks Tribune Male Athlete of the Year.
He graduated last Tuesday as one of the most decorated athletes in school history and polished off his stellar career by earning first-team all-league honors in both sports.
This winter, he nearly averaged a double-double for the Cougs, who went 23-5, a perfect 16-0 in league play, and celebrated just their second league title in program history. He scored 10.3 points and pulled down 8.3 rebounds a night, while shooting 60 percent from the field.
He was third on the team in scoring and hauled in nearly 3.5 rebounds more per game than anyone else in purple. He also led the way with 45 blocks.
This spring, he was undoubtedly the best catcher in the 4A North. Spanish Springs went 25-7, 16-4 and finished a single win shy of state for the second consecutive year.
At nearly 6-5, he looks over his personal accomplishments and hardly blinks. Instead, he ponders the near team misses despite a cumulative 48-12 record between the two sports his senior year.
“I just feel like always coming up short every year is the memory that’s going to stick with me the most,” he said.
The baseball team fell 16-15 to Galena in eight innings in the 4A North ‘if necessary’ title game at Bishop Manogue last month. After watching Prizina blast two three-run home runs in the first game, Galena wanted no part of him in game two. He drew four walks, a 4A state record.
“It was kind of tough, because I don’t want to be rude or anything, but the bat was kind of taken out of hands,” he said. “It’s just upsetting when you don’t get a chance to have all six at bats I should’ve had that game.”
Bishop Manogue ended the basketball’s teams hopes of a first regional title in February with an upset regional semifinal victory in the final seconds. The Cougars had won their last 16 entering that game.
But Prizina’s athletic career is all but over. Some believe it’s just starting. The athletic catcher is headed to Nevada, where he will play for third-year coach T.J. Bruce.
“I should come to peace with it. I’m going off to a new team next year,” he said. “I’m just hoping things change a little bit … I just need something to get over that little hump.”
Regardless of whether he gets over the hump or not, Prizina has the athleticism and build to continue his baseball career beyond the collegiate level. His former teammate, Carson McCusker, a 2016 graduate, was taken in the 26th round of last week’s MLB Draft by the Brewers.
Scouts from the Blue Jays, Rangers and Orioles have already reached out to him. Spanish Springs coach Matt Ortiz, who is all over Nevada’s offensive record books as a catcher then played in the Cardinals organization, sees the opportunity as well.
“He has far more potential than (I did),” he said this spring. “His ceiling is much higher, including even after college, because he has that ability.
“He’s going to get his shot.”
Prizina grew accustomed to performing in front of scouts as a junior. They often attended Spanish Springs games to observe Ryan Anderson, who just finished his freshman season pitching for Nevada.
“Then, I was kind of nervous. I was like ‘oh my god, I have to perform if I want to stay up with Ryan, compete with Ryan,’” he said. “But this year, it was different. I just need to do my thing. If I do good or not, I know I’m going to try my best. If they like it, then they like it.”
He may not perform in front of scouts this summer, however. He’s still searching for a team and if he doesn’t find one, he’ll remain on campus and work with the strength coaches.
The work is something he doesn’t mind. He’s not content.
“I feel like I could develop a little more,” he said. “And I feel like (Nevada) will do just that for me.”
Male Athlete of the Year Honorable Mention
Lincoln Turner, Reed – Turner concluded a stellar prep career on the hardwood as one of the best players in the 4A North. Averaging a team-high 17.5 points per night, Turner shot 40 percent from field and was named a first-team all-region selection. On the diamond, Turner batted .356 with two home runs, seven doubles and 19 RBIs. He was voted to the all-league second team.
Matt Longland, Sparks – The Sparks basketball and baseball teams grinded through difficult seasons, but it certainly wasn’t because of Longland. In the winter, Longland led the Railroaders, averaging 14.9 points per game. In the spring, he batted .508 with six home runs and only struck out four times in 81 plate appearances. He threw 51 innings. Nobody else threw more than 24.1. He’s final record sat at 2-5 despite a sterling 2.33 ERA. He struck out 88 batters and only walked 21.
Matt Garcia, Reed – Garcia continued to be one of the best defensive players in the 4A North this fall. On his way to earning first-team all-region honors at linebacker, Garcia compiled 65 tackles, including a team-high 10 for loss. He was also third on the team with 3.5 sacks. He was an honorable mention selection in the winter for the basketball team.
*Athletes are required to be multi-sport seniors to be considered for Sparks Tribune Male Athlete of the Year.