Jun 28, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorETHETE -- John Soundingsides was the 2012 Fremont County boys basketball player of the year, but the Wyoming Indian all-state guard didn't think he would play on the next level.
That all changed Wednesday when Soundingsides signed a national letter of intent to play basketball at Minnesota West Community and Technical College.
The player of the year award was bestowed on Soundingsides by the sports staff at The Ranger, the Lander Journal and the Wind River News.
"The college found me and gave me a chance to play ball," Soundingsides said.
Soundingsides and several of his fans were with him at Wyoming Indian High School when he made it official.
"It's very exciting," Soundingsides said. "It took me awhile to sign."
Minnesota West plays in the junior college division.
"It's going to be pretty tough to go to Minnesota West the first month or so," Soundingsides said. "People are just telling me to hang in there and just try not to come back."
WIHS coach Craig Ferris said he has faith that Soundingsides will be able to adjust to playing in Minnesota.
"It will be tough at first, but when he gets there he will need to make friends," Ferris said. "He has to get to know his teammates."
Soundingsides said he wanted to play college basketball for his sister Diana Soundingsides.
Diana Soundingsides was killed in a car wreck May 31 on Interstate 25 between Casper and Buffalo.
She played at United Tribes Technical College and at Little Big Horn College.
"Diana wanted to prove that I could go to college," John Soundingsides said. "Since she made it, I know that I could make it. She meant a lot to me."
Diana Soundingsides was an all-state basketball player for WIHS.
"It was a dark day for everyone," Ferris said, referring to when Diana Soundingsides passed away. "It really made the whole reservation sad. I think that it really helped John focus on doing something for not for himself, but for his sister and his family. If he goes and competes, then it will be nothing but positive things for him and his family."
Soundingsides has a high school basketball resume that includes four Class 2-A state title games. Soundingsides won three out of the four title games.
"There wasn't that much pressure when I got to my last championship game," Soundingsides said. "I just told myself that I have to get it done. It was very special to win my senior season."
Soundingsides gave a lot of credit to Ferris and assistant coach Michael Hiwalker.
"They were by my side for four years," Soundingsides said. "They pushed me to my limits. They got me better."
"John is one of those guys that is going to be hard to replace," Ferris said. "He has played varsity for four years now."
Soundingsides will join Slade Spoonhunter as former Wyoming Indian High School players in the junior college ranks.
Spoonhunter is heading into his sophomore season at Eastern Wyoming College.
"I'm just proud of the fact that in my seven years of coaching, we have a lot of guys ... go to the next level and play," Ferris said.
Soundingsides set a new single game-scoring record for the Chiefs with 65 points in a game against Shoshoni.
"John has a knack for scoring," Ferris said. "He has the long range. He knows how to get buckets."
Soundingsides stands at 5-foot-8.
"I need to work on my defense and my drive and kick," Soundingsides said.
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