Connor Fohn surprised a lot of college basketball coaches.
When the 6-foot guard they had been recruiting to play basketball for some time signed a letter of intent to play football at Carroll College in Helena, Montana, in February, curious basketball coaches called.
Some didn’t know he had played football.
“It’s kind of a weird decision when I spent so much time focusing on basketball and knowing I think since the time I was about 8 I told myself I was going to play college basketball,” said the South Salem High School senior, who has a 4.0 GPA and will major in biology.
“That’s all I wanted to do. Then all of a sudden my senior year, my plans kind of change and I’m happy about it.”
But Fohn wasn’t finished with basketball.
He averaged 15.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game in his final season of competitive basketball, leading the Saxons to a fourth-place finish at the state tournament and was one of the top players in the state.
Fohn was a first-team all-Greater Valley Conference selection and a first-team all-Class 6A state tournament selection, and he is the American Family Insurance All-USA Mid-Valley boys basketball player of the year.
At the midpoint of the season, South Salem coach Tyler Allen took Fohn aside and asked him where all of those hours of playing basketball between open gyms and AAU basketball few years were going to lead him.
“He responded well,” Allen said. “He started to get the crew together in the mornings at 6 a.m. on specific days in the week, stay afterwards, get some shots up, really kind of challenged him and challenged himself to really continue to write his own story.
“He signed with football, but he knew as an individual that it was time to get the pen and paper back out and continue writing his basketball career.”
Fohn was a varsity contributor on the basketball court since his sophomore year of high school.
But he played one fall of football — granted, it was a fall when he caught 35 passes for 702 yards and 14 touchdowns — and all of a sudden is going to be a college football player.
Playing football gave Fohn a needed break from basketball, and when he was returned the sport, the contact didn’t seem as harsh as it once did.
But when all-state teammate Seth Erickson suffered a season-ending knee injury against McNary in early February, Fohn became the go-to player for the Saxons.
Fohn scored 20 points in the GVC co-championship clinching win against West Albany, then scored 29 in a state playoff win against South Medford to advance to the state tournament.
“With Seth going down, he knew it was his time,” Allen said. “If we wanted to continue this ride that we were on, he needed to be that guy to make those shots. There was no other option.
“When someone can find that type of confidence, the rest is history. Really he found that confidence within himself that he is good enough to be that player, to make that happen for us, and that carried on to the state tournament.”
But after being named first-team all-tournament following the state championship game, Fohn was nowhere to be found.
“I think it was cool,” said Fohn, who has been selected to play in the April 18 Northwest Shootout all-star basketball game. “It was a nice gesture and it was great to get that accomplishment, but for me, I never during the tournament was like … ‘I want to get all-tournament.’ That wasn’t something I was going to the tournament hoping to do.”
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com, (503) 399-6701 or follow at twitter.com/bpoehler
School: South Salem
Height: 6 feet
Statistics: Averaged 15.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game
Honors: First-team all-Greater Valley Conference; first-team all-Class 6A state tournament