Tiny Sheridan College Is a Big Hit With College Cage Recruits

Times Staff Writer

Sheridan College, a junior college with an enrollment of 1,500, is nestled in the shadows of the Bighorn Mountains in Sheridan, Wyo. Population: 25,000.

Although Sheridan is not exactly the basketball capital of the world, it did manage to lure three of the area's more successful basketball players away from Southern California.

Victor Malbrough, a 6-foot-7, 180-pound forward from Palisades High School, Kenny Boldt, a 6-7, 175-pound forward from South Pasadena, and Troy Batiste, a 6-2, 185-pound point guard from Crenshaw, all recently decided to pack up their high-tops and thermal underwear and attend Sheridan.

But how could a small school in Wyoming overcome almost complete anonymity to pull off what Sheridan Coach Bruce Hoffman called a "major coup for our program?"

Indeed, Boldt, who averaged 24 points a game en route to earning All-Southern Section honors, said that he had never even heard of Sheridan College before he started receiving the school's literature.

He didn't even know how the school had heard of him.

Coach Hoffman, who lacks the budget to crisscross the country scouting for himself, said that he learned of the trio from Los Angeles the same way he learns of many prospective recruits--two scouting services, including Don Mead's.

Unable to meet many prospects personally, Hoffman lets his record for producing winners, which is almost as consistent as Old Faithful, sell the program.

In his 21-year career at Sheridan, Hoffman has had 401 wins. Sheridan has won its conference six straight years and twice (1975 and 1977) has captured the Region 9 title, which includes schools in Wyoming, Montana, Colorado and Nebraska, to earn a berth in the national tournament.

Hoffman was recently named an assistant coach for the West team in the Olympic Festival Games from July 25 to Aug. 3 where he will join such notables as Gary Williams (Ohio State), Digger Phelps (Notre Dame) and Bill Foster (South Carolina).

Perhaps the most impressive statistic to prospects is the number of players who have received scholarships to play at Division I schools after two years at Sheridan. For example, Mark Anderson, a 6-3 guard who transferred to the University of Minnesota, was one of five players from the 1984-85 team to move on to a Division I program.

Still, neither Hoffman's nor the school's reputation precede them when the recruiting trail leads outside of Wyoming. But that has not stopped Hoffman from trying to recruit elsewhere.

Two years ago, he landed Allen Malbrough, Victor's brother. The older Malbrough averaged about 14 points a game and received a scholarship to West Texas State, a Division I school.

"Allen told me it was a very nice place to go," Victor Malbrough said. "I was planning to go away from home anyway, and it's really pretty up there. And it's got a good winning tradition."

Malbrough, who averaged about 14 points a game and was named to the All-City team, said he knew Sheridan was the place for him after he visited the campus.

"If you like the outdoors and rugged country, this is a great place," Hoffman said. "Plus, we have great facilities. We just built a 3,000-seat arena three years ago."

Boldt, who visited the campus with Malbrough, said that he was sold on Sheridan almost quickly as Malbrough.

"I was going to go to Glendale, but after I went (to Sheridan) I wanted to stay," Boldt said.

Although Boldt nor Malbrough did not know one another before the recruiting trip, they became close friends and plan to room together next year.

According to his coach, Willie West, Batiste, who couldn't be reached for comment, hadn't heard of Sheridan either before the mail started coming. West said Batiste, who averaged 13 assists a game for the state Division I champion, is simply going to the school that wanted him the most.

Malbrough and Boldt, however, said that they were somewhat apprehensive about leaving the beaches, but said the change of scenery would help them scholastically.

"I didn't think I'd study enough if I stayed here," Boldt said. "There's just so much to do here. There's not much to do there except play basketball and fish. And I don't fish.

"But all the guys graduated and went to other schools. And I knew Allen went there, so it showed a California guy can survive."

Hoffman said that he's sure that his three Los Angeles recruits will do more than survive.

"They all have a real good chance to start for us next year," he said. "We feel real good about all of them. It was a real coup for us."

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