Throughout Hesston senior Grant Raleigh’s high school basketball career, a constant has been the presence of McPherson College men’s coach Tim Swartzendruber.
Even when Raleigh was severely injured in a skiing accident in Breckenridge, Colo., on March 27, Swartzendruber still pursued the standout guard.
Wednesday night Swartzendruber drove to Littleton, Colo., to meet with Raleigh in his hospital room at CareMeridian to sign him to a basketball scholarship.
“We had offered him earlier in the season,” said Swartzendruber, who went to many of Hesston’s games to watch Raleigh. “We’re sticking with that offer. We’re excited that he wants to sign with us. I’ve had several conversations with Grant since he’s been in the hospital. He’s an extremely determined young man.”
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Raleigh is a standout athlete who helped lead Hesston to the Class 3A basketball title in 2014. Hesston was 21-3 this season and lost in the first round of the 3A tournament. Raleigh averaged a team-high 16.7 points.
Raleigh, who went to Swartzendruber’s camps when he coached at Hesston College, is expected to stay in a Denver rehabilitation center for another at least another week before coming to Wichita for more rehab.
Raleigh’s injuries included a shattered pelvis, internal bleeding, several broken bones in an arm and shoulder, a smashed tailbone and his back broken in three spots.
Some of the colleges that had been interested in him before the accident stopped calling.
“After my injuries, in the hospital I started functioning a little bit, and I was sure it was the right fit for me,” Raleigh said. “It’s a big part of why I like McPherson so much. After the injury and everything, mainly the bigger school coaches that I had been talking to, they just stopped. It sucks, but it’s a business. Coach Swartzendruber, the coaches at McPherson, they didn’t care how many bones I had broken or any of that.”
Raleigh’s future is uncertain. There’s a long rehab ahead of him. So why did Swartzendruber continue to recruit Raleigh?
“Probably the things that stand out on Grant for us has been his toughness, his leadership, his ability to make people around him better,” Swartzendruber said. “He’s certainly a very talented athlete. For us, we felt he has the intangibles that set him apart from other players.
“We don’t know what his timetable is on his rehab. But knowing Grant and how tough he is and how determined he is, we’re excited he wants to be a part of our basketball program at McPherson College.”
And Raleigh plans to make it back as swiftly as he can.
“It’s definitely going to be a fight, but I’m going to do everything I can to get back,” he said. “The faith they have in me is awesome.
“… I’ve been sitting in a bed for, Friday will be four weeks. If I could play in a basketball game right now, holy cow, that would be heaven. I’m going to try to get back as fast as I can and probably have to learn some patience along the way.”
Raleigh was the Hesston quarterback, as well, and led the Swathers to a 10-1 record. He completed 119 of 182 passes for 1,812 yards.