POULSBO — Bryan Haupt, the center who led the North Kitsap Vikings in scoring and rebounding this year, will play his next organized basketball at Central Washington.
After a visit to the school during spring break and a scrimmage with some of the Wildcats’ players, Haupt signed a letter of intent to play for the Wildcats.
Haupt was impressed with the players, the school’s fevered rivalry with Western Washington, and especially the time and attention head coach Greg Sparling and assistant coach Keith Cooper gave him.
“It meant a lot that they sat down and talked to me face-to-face, rather than having an assistant take me around,” said Haupt.
He was recruited by many of the state’s top junior college program, including Tacoma Community College, South Puget Sound, and Olympic College, and received interest from Pacific Lutheran University and Seattle Pacific University.
But the visit to Ellensburg tilted the 6’9” Haupt to Central.
Wildcats’ head coach Greg Sparling was impressed with Haupt’s height, shooting ability, and athleticism. He was also impressed by a quality that can’t be measured or tested.
“When a recruit comes in here, we like to ask him what his strengths are,” Sparling said. “Bryan said his strength is that he loves the game. Not many say that.”
Sparling said, “His dedication, heart, and love of the game will take him a long way.”
Haupt was a rare three-year starter for the Vikings. He averaged 10 points and five rebounds in his sophomore season, then increased those numbers each year, averaging 16.4 points and almost seven rebounds for the Olympic League championship team in 2000 that went 15-3 in the regular season.
This season he averaged 19.0 points and seven rebounds a game.
He also played on several select teams.
Haupt will be joining a Central Washington team that went 16-10 last year, 9-9 in league.
The Wildcats play in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, where they face teams such as Saint Martin’s, Seattle Pacific University, Humboldt State University.
But the biggest rival is Western Washington. When Haupt visited some of the players, they told him how the gym grows packed and loud whenever the Vikings are in town.
“I know a lot of people who are going to Western.” Haupt said with a smile. “They’ll probably be cheering against me.”
Haupt is satisfied with his career at North Kitsap, where he started three years: “It was a good career. There’s not much more you can ask for,” he said.