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In the short spring hoops season so far, Malek Harwell has stepped up.
The 6-foot-4 rising junior from Idaho has been turning a lot more heads as the top scoring threat for Utah Pump N Run 16-U Red. He was a menace in last weekend's Double Pump Spring Classic in Las Vegas, showing the ability to shoot from all over the floor and get to the basket against other solid prospects.
That effort paid off early this week, as Harwell got his first college offer from Utah State. And it's probably not going to be the last one for the 15-year-old shooting guard.
"This year he's made such a jump," coach Jason Long. "A lot of people can't believe how much better he's gotten. He's not just a guy who stands there waiting for a kickout, he can make shots coming off screens, he can square up in the air, he can do a lot of things."
The Aggies have made a name on getting out in the recruiting game early, and the program has picked up a bunch of Pump N Run prospects over the years. Harwell, who plays at Century High in Idaho, is no stranger to Utah State, having gone to a few games in the Spectrum.
The fun, raucous energy at games is one thing Harwell really likes about the Aggies that and their track record.
"Over a bunch of seasons, they have a winning record, and that's good," he said. "I like that they pack the Spectrum every night, and it's a really good atmosphere.
If things go right for the Aggies, he could be playing there some day. But there's likely to be more attention from the likes of BYU, Utah and a few other suitors.
"I think he could be a Mountain West guy, Pac-12 guy, whatever he wants," Long said. "I see the potential to be an all-conference player."
Some areas Harwell can improve, his coach said, is developing a more consistent midrange game, distributing the ball more effectively, and being a voracious defender. His length is an advantage against other kids his age, Long said, but he has to use it more readily on the defensive end.
Harwell said he's been in conversations with BYU, Utah and Colorado this spring, so more offers could be forthcoming. But it meant a lot to him to get that first one.
"My friends and family have been cheering me on, and they're all really excited for me, and I'm grateful for this," he said. "I just want to go to a program where the coaches want to call my number to help them get to the NCAA tournament and hopefully win a championship."
Pump N Run has a number of prospects that could get more recruiting attention this year. On Harwell's team are Jarriesse Blackmon, Noah Togiai and Jake Lindsey, who are all getting varying degrees of college attention and have two more years of high school to go. The squad won the Las Vegas tournament, and still has some basketball ahead in Boise and Chicago this spring.
Kellen Bartlett gets an invite to Chicago Bears rookie mini-camp
A sixth Aggie will get his shot to prove himself in the NFL.
Tight end Kellen Bartlett, an honorable mention all-WAC player in 2012, received an invite to participate at rookie mini-camp with the Chicago Bears. Joining NFL draftees Will Davis and Kerwynn Williams, as well as undrafted free agent signees Matt Austin, Al Lapuaho and Chuck Jacobs, Bartlett becomes the sixth senior from the 11-2 season last year to test the NFL waters.
He was valuable as a blocker but also a pass-catcher last season. Bartlett finished with 38 receptions for 272 yards and five touchdowns. He caught for 581 yards throughout his career, overcoming a 2011 medical redshirt year.
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon