Hoops standout Swinton to join Fossman at UAA
Haines High senior Tyler Swinton has earned a spot on the University of Alaska Anchorage basketball team as a “preferred walk-on,” meaning he can forego the tryout process required of other non-scholarship players.
“I like their school, how it’s set up, and all the things they offer, and how it is close to home,” he said. “I’ve had the privilege to scrimmage with the guys up there who will be my teammates next year, and they’re a great bunch of guys.”
The 6’7’’ Swinton, a second-team All-State performer, will join fellow Haines graduate Kyle Fossman on the Division II school’s roster under coach Rusty Osborne.
Both athletes played for coach Steve Fossman, Kyle’s father, as Glacier Bears.
“I’m excited to have two kids from Haines on a team for one of the main universities in Alaska,” Steve Fossman said. “That’s pretty rare, and exciting for the town.”
Kyle Fossman is entering his junior season at UAA, and Swinton said he’s looking forward to competing alongside the sharpshooter again.
“I think it would be cool, especially because we’ve been teammates before and have that chemistry already,” Swinton said.
Many walk-ons across the nation eventually play their way into a scholarship. Swinton said “redshirting” is an option for him as a freshman, a designation that would have him sit out of games for a season without losing a year of eligibility as he adjusts to the college level.
“They said it all depends on the strength I have when I come up there and how I play in the fall,” Swinton said. “I can’t say at this point, but I think if I work hard and strive to not redshirt, it could probably happen.”
To prepare for the Seawolves’ season, Swinton has a new diet.
“They have a lot of things I can’t eat anymore, including red meat, because it’s fatty protein,” he said. “They want me on the lean proteins and stuff – so chicken, seafood, stuff like that – absolutely no energy drinks, pop, soda or anything caffeinated.”
Along with his 3A all-state credentials from the Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches, Swinton competed in the group’s all-star games last month in Soldotna and Anchorage. Fresh off his high school season, Swinton debuted at Juneau’s Gold Medal Basketball Tournament in March and made the all-tournament team for the runner-up Haines Merchants.
He plans to study business and accounting in Anchorage and has been awarded academic scholarships.
His parents, Ralph and Sarah Swinton, coach youth basketball in Haines, and Tyler credited coach Fossman and Mark McNamara for offering open gym in the summer.
“We’ve really tried to develop all segments of his game – outside, mid-range and inside – hoping we’d do as much as we could to help him get ready for college,” Fossman said. “I think Tyler’s going to have a good career there, and he’s got a ton of upside.”