Kyle Colvin couldn’t help but watch the show at the other end of the court.
As the St. Bernard layup line turned into a dunk contest before a boys basketball playoff game against Mission Prep in February — not one, not two, but six players for the No. 1-ranked team in CIF-Southern Section Division 2A rose above the rim and slammed it home.
It wasn't exactly the type of athletic display normally seen on a high school basketball court in SLO County.
It was a first-round playoff game, and judging by the talent Colvin saw before tip-off, it didn’t look like the senior’s high school career would last though the night.
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“Their point guard was taking off from the third hash mark,” Colvin said. “For a couple minutes in warm ups we thought — 'uh-oh.' "
That doubt evaporated from the gym once the game began, in large part due to the play of Colvin, The Tribune County Boys Basketball 2018 Player of the Year.
Mission Prep, the lowest seed in the D 2A playoffs, staged a late-game charge to pull off the improbable upset, with Colvin making the pass that led to the game-winning 3-pointer by Ander Villacana. Colvin scored 14 of his game-high 23 points in the second half of that game and felt a sense of vindication as he smiled and celebrated with head coach Terrance Harris as fans stormed the court.
“It was a special game because I feel that I am a very underrated player for the state,” Colvin said. “We were put as the last seed in the tournament, and we just showed that we can do it with anybody.”
Mission Prep would lose in the second round of the playoffs, but that didn’t take away from Colvin’s standout season — one in which he averaged 23 points, 12 rebounds and three assists per game. Colvin was able to step into a leading role after sharing the spotlight the past two seasons and lead Mission Prep to its fourth straight league title. (Mission Prep shared the title with SLO High this season and with St. Joseph in 2016.)
Colvin scored 25 points or more in 11 of Mission Prep’s 27 games with a diverse game that developed over the summer. The 6-foot-6 guard came into the season known mostly for his long-range shooting, but by the end of the year he displayed a full range of skills — from bringing the ball up the court to posting up and getting to the free-throw line. He averaged eight free throws per game in 2017-18.
“Getting better at his all-around game was a focus of his,” Harris said. “He didn’t want to be seen as just a shooter.”
Colvin and Mission Prep struggled through the middle part of the season with losses to SLO High, Paso Robles, Pioneer Valley and Arroyo Grande during a five-game stretch.
“We lost four out of five to teams we have never lost to before. We never lost to a PAC 8 team in this county,” Colvin said of his team’s track record since joining the PAC 8 in 2014. “Halfway through the season, I would get a text and talk to old alumni, and they would say, 'Come on what are you doing to our program?' "
But the Royals rediscovered their rhythm and won six in a row at the end of the season, including the upset win over St. Bernard. The streak helped Mission Prep catch up to SLO High, who had led the PAC 8 the entire season, and claim a co-championship on the final day of the regular season.
Despite the marquee wins and big stats, Colvin has not been highly recruited.
"People think there aren’t as many good players up here, so maybe he’s just doing it against lesser competition, people who aren’t Division 1 players," Colvin said.
He’s received interest from some Division II schools such as Chico State and even Cal Poly (where his dad, Kurt Colvin, played in the 1980s), but he’s yet to make a decision on his future.
“I want to find a good fit and then prove that I can play there,” said Colvin, who wants to attend a school with an engineering program. “I think I can be a Division-I player. I have played against that competition.”
To get there, Colvin knows he will need to get healthy (he played almost the entire season hurt) and “a lot more athletic,” along with adding a few pounds to his slim frame.
“If he gets to a school where he’s not the focal point of the offense, that only makes him more dangerous,” Harris said.
With the college decision looming, Colvin will continue to work on his game with his friends who were with him through all the ups and downs.
“It was the most fun I have ever had during a basketball season, and it was all because of my teammates and coach,” Colvin said. “After (the win over St. Bernard), I was just so happy that we got to play another day together.”