Casa Grande Union vs. Salpointe Catholic 1/8/19

Casa Grande Union’s Jordan Apkaw, left, guards Tucson Salpointe Catholic’s Majok Deng on Jan. 8, 2019, in Casa Grande.

CASA GRANDE —

Jordan Apkaw said he gave his mother some gifts on Mother’s Day, but the one gift his mother Talia will probably remember most is watching her son sign a college letter of intent.

“Besides the other stuff I got her,” Apkaw said, laughing about signing on Mother’s Day.

Apkaw’s singing with Northwest Indian College in Bellingham, Washington, also comes a few days after he received his cap and gown for his high school graduation that will likely be virtual.

“I got my cap and gown today and I was like, I’m not going to have a graduation,” he said. “I’m not going to be wearing this while I walk across the football field.”

Apkaw’s journey to Northwest Indian College began with the help of former Casa Grande Union assistant coach and former Sequoia Pathway coach George Courtney.

Apkaw said Courtney helped getting him contact coaches and even talked with the coach at Northwest Indian College.

“After my senior season, I sat down with coach and he talked about the college that I liked and told me to test the process and go to a small college at first to develop my game and bring my basketball IQ up,” he said.

One of the things that intrigued Apkaw about the school was the competition level of the teams the college plays. He said some of the opponents include NAIA, along with NCAA Division I and II schools.

“When I was thinking about it, I would play the community colleges around here,” he said. “There’s no problem with that because everybody is good in college, no matter what level you are. But then I see the opportunity of [Northwest Indian College] playing everywhere, and they are hardly ever home.”

Originally, Apkaw didn’t intend to sign on Mother’s Day. Instead he had planned on playing in this summer’s Native American Basketball Invitational in Phoenix.

However, when it as announced the tournament would be canceled, it changed plans for Apkaw, who also had interest from Crown College, a Division III school in Minnesota.

“A lot of coaches from everywhere and schools from up north come down and watch a lot of players who have no offers. They get looked at and some have received college offers,” Apkaw said of the NABI tournament. “That’s what my plan was, to wait it out, play my senior season, and then they canceled it.

“[Courtney] was telling was that everybody was signing now and just to get it out of the way. That’s when I looked more to the school and the opportunities it has.”

Apkaw plans to study business management along with tribal government. He added he would like to one day become a firefighter with the goal of eventually returning home to the Gila River Indian Reservation and becoming a fire chief.

“That’s one of my biggest plans,” he said. “From where I’m from, a lot of people don’t go on to play college basketball. This was my opportunity to go out and [do] something about it.”

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