Krista Kielsmeier photo.
Haines senior Brandon Haxton signs a letter of intent to play basketball for Rocky Mountain College last week while surrounded by his Glacier Bear teammates.

Haines High School senior Brandon Haxton signed a letter of intent to play basketball for Rocky Mountain College last week.

“It’s a really big deal,” said Haines coach Steve Fossman. “It’s basically like a contract of your commitment with the school and, also, it’s a show of their commitment to you.”

The 6’6” Haxton will compete at the NAIA, Division I level for coach Bill Dreikosen at Rocky Mountain, a private school in Billings, Mont., with an enrollment of about 1,000 students.

“Brandon gets to wear green again,” Fossman said. “He’s even going to be a Bear, once again.”

He noted the Rocky Mountain Battlin’ Bears of the Frontier Conference won the national championship three years ago.

Haxton moved to Haines from Montana, and joined the Glacier Bears for his junior and senior seasons. He credited assistant coach Mark McNamara, a former NBA player, for helping develop his post-up game.

“I feel like I’ve gotten like a free $50,000 worth of coaching out of him, with him being a professional coach,” Haxton said. “I enjoyed working with all the guys and the other coaching staff – Steve and Ann (Fossman) are just awesome people.”

Haxton impressed a Rocky Mountain scout at an Anchorage tournament in December, when Haines tallied a 1-2 record against 4A opponents Chugiak, Eagle River and East Anchorage. Haxton poured in 15 points against East to lead the team.

“I’m just looking forward to being able to play with a new group of guys, and getting better and bigger,” Haxton said.

He plans to study mathematics and secondary education in college.

His parents, Christopher and Ayse Haxton, already were preparing for a move back to Montana before the Friday signing ceremony that drew dozens of guests to the school library. Ayse said she was proud her son had earned academic scholarship money and could continue playing basketball.

Christopher opened the event by reading a letter from high school science teacher Mark Fontenot that complimented Brandon’s “cheerful” personality and referred to the hype before the teenager’s debut in Haines.

“We Glacier Bears liked Brandon before we even met him,” Fontenot wrote. “I remember the weeks before he arrived; rumor had gotten around school that he played basketball and was over two meters tall.”