FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Junior guard Stallon Saldivar does a lot for the Northern Arizona basketball team. He will face his toughest test to date when he leads the Lumberjacks against Brigham Young at 7 p.m. in the Lumberjack Classic Wednesday at Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.
"It is a big game for us," said Saldivar. "Utah and BYU have always been the top tier schools of Utah. They have been a big powerhouse and I grew up watching them and seen some pretty good players come through there."
Saldivar, a Utah native and graduate of Judge Memorial in Salt Lake City, won a Utah state title as a junior and led his school to a pair of top-five state finishes in his prep career. He was named the 2008 3A State Tournament Most Valuable Player, while earning all-state and all-region first team honors.
"I am excited to play them," said Saldivar. "They have some good players and I am excited to see how we do against them."
Saldivar, one of three returning starters for the Lumberjacks, has been carrying a heavy load for the Lumberjacks this season. He scored a career-high 17 points against Arizona Christian and added 11 points against Northern New Mexico. He has recorded three of his top six scoring performances in the first six games this season, averaging 8.0 points per game while averaging 5.3 assists per game.
"I have taken the role when the shot clock is down at the end of possessions to be aggressive," said Saldivar, who had a career-high seven rebounds and seven assists at Loyola Marymount on Saturday. "I have always been a pass first type point guard finding my teammates. That will never change with me but if I have to score the ball to win some games than I do not have a problem with that."
Saldivar, who played on a sixth-grade AAU team coached by NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton and former Phoenix Sun and Utah Jazz standout Jeff Hornecek, ranked 31st in Division I in assists per game at 5.4 while leading the Big Sky Conference in 2010-11. He was also seventh in the nation assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.88.
Head Coach Mike Adras likes the leadership Saldivar has shown this season as well as the improved scoring punch.
"He has been one of our steady guys so far this year," said Adras. "Stallon has done a nice job especially in the last couple games dictating the tempo, distributing the ball extremely well and scoring points for us. He is really doing it all over the court for us. It is great to see from somebody who has as much experience as he does."
The game against BYU is dubbed the Lumberjack Classic but it being held at a neutral court at Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley 87 miles from the Mountain campus in Flagstaff. The Lumberjacks are playing in Prescott Valley for the second consecutive season. The game serves as a unique chance for NAU Athletics to highlight NAU's Extended Campuses including the local NAU Prescott campus. NAU has 35 campuses across the state of Arizona.
"We are playing in Arizona so hopefully there are more NAU fans than BYU," said Saldivar, who had 11 assists and three points against Alabama State last season in Prescott Valley. "I don't know if you can call it a home court advantage but we are certainly closer to home and have less traveling."
Home game or not, Saldivar sees the contest as another chance for the young Lumberjack team to get better against a quality opponent like BYU, a team coming off a 30-win season and the first Sweet 16 appearance in school history.
"We are so young it has to all be progress every day we step out here," said Saldivar. "We can't look back and what we have done in the past. Everything is new to us. I see lot of production out of the new guys and hopefully we can build on that. Everything we do in the offseason and preseason is for Big Sky play. It is where the games really count."
The game can be heard on the Lumberjack Radio Network on 105.1 FM The Big Talker in Flagstaff, Prescott and Sedona and online via The Big Talker website and their mobile app. BYU TV (Direct TV 374, Dish Network 9403 and ONLINE) will also televise the game from Tim's Toyota Center.
Fans can purchase tickets at www.gettix.net or by calling (866) 443-8849. Ticket prices for the game at Tim's Toyota Center start as low as $19. For fans that are looking to attend the game in a large group, a limited number of group tickets can be purchased now by calling (480) 620-9039.