Denver Signs Highlands Ranch Standouts Olson & Byrd

Duo will bring chemistry to DU
By Peter RossiCreated: 12.01.2010 - 8:51 pm mtMile High Hoops

The Signees

Joe Scott, who already has five Colorado players on the University of Denver roster, recently inked Highlands Ranch standouts Brett Olson and Marcus Byrd to National Letters of Intent.  Olson and Byrd led Highlands Ranch to a 21-5 record and a Great Eight appearance last season, and both players earned Honorable Mention recognition from The Denver Post.

“It’s nice for us to be able to get those two kids and keep building this program with Colorado guys,” Scott said. “They have a great basketball program at Highlands Ranch.”

Olson, a 6-foot-4 point guard, averaged 13 points and 5.1 assists as a junior. Scott first saw Olson play as a sophomore and has since followed his high school progression. Olson is a steady point guard who can knock down open shots.

“I think the one thing that coach Scott really liked about Brett is that he thinks the game so well,” Highlands Ranch coach Bob Caton said. “If you don’t think the game, you can’t really play at DU.”

Byrd, a 6-foot-8 forward, averaged 13 points, eight rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game as a junior. Byrd has a dedicated work ethic and has developed his game every season under Caton.


Marcus Byrd prepares to receive an entry pass in last

season's state quarterfinals.

Photo by Pat Miller, patmiller.com

“Marcus has improved so much since the first day that he walked into (Highlands Ranch),” Caton said. “When he was in eighth or ninth grade, if someone would have said he’d be recruited by Division I schools, a lot of people would have been shocked. It’s a testament to the fact that Marcus has spent a lot of extra hours with basketball to get to the point where he’s at.”

Instant Chemistry

An added bonus for Scott in this recruiting coup is how much basketball Byrd and Olson have played together. Olson and Byrd have played together since sixth grade and the play on the same AAU team—Next Level with coach Marty Clark.

“Me and Brett know how each other play,” said Byrd after a recent practice. “Coach Scott is getting the benefit of that because we play so well together.”

Olson said the chemistry with Byrd “will help a lot at the next level because we both feed off each other and know what we can do.”

Scott’s Influence

 Olson and Byrd both liked what they saw in Scott during their recruitment. They both are comfortable with the program, having gone through DU’s Elite Camps in the past.

“He is really intense, you can tell he loves the game, he cares about his players, and he can help those players take the next step,” Olson said.

Byrd agreed with Olson, and said he is excited to play for Scott at DU.

“When I went to (Scott’s) Elite Camp, he kept telling me not to rush the game,” Byrd said. “A lot of the things he was teaching are the things I like to bring to my game, so it should be a good fit.”

Unfinished Business

While Olson and Byrd are excited for their college future at DU, the two are concentrating on their last hurrah in high school. Reaching the quarterfinals last season has only made the two hungrier, and the objective is a state championship.

“We have good leadership, and everyone has the same goal,” Olson said. “We’re very motivated to contend for that state championship.”

Said Byrd, “We should definitely be a contender. I know we all have the goal of getting that state title.”

Coach Scott’s Player Evalutations:

On Olson: “Brett is a very good ballhandler, passer and shooter.  He’s a big guard—just a really smooth player who can see the court. He needs to get stronger, but I think he’s got a chance to be a really good player.”

On Byrd: “He’s got a lot of upside. If you look at what he’s done in his high school career—year after year he just keeps getting better and better…He is very fluid and mobile, and he’s not the biggest guy but he’s got a wiry strength about him. I think he’s going to be a good player.”

Contact the writer at prossi@milehighhoops.com

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