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The City Journals

Athletes using more than feet at RSL Academy

Mar 06, 2019 11:49AM ● By Greg James

RSL Academy’s Jordan Day is averaging 14 points per game, the most for any freshman in the state. (photo courtesy of Greg Jame/City Journals)

By Greg James | gregj@mycityjournals.com 

The rule book used by high school basketball teams around the state does include dribbling, but not with your feet.

RSL Academy in Herriman opened as a charter school giving young soccer phenoms an opportunity to attend school and learn the game they love. After enrollment, some of these upand-coming soccer stars signed up to play a different kind of game, basketball.

“The school is a development academy for RSL,” RSL Academy boys basketball head coach Justin Perfili said. “(RSL owner) Dell Loy Hansen started this all in Arizona and wanted to move them (the training facility) up here as a public charter school. It is open to the general public. I have come on board to help soccer players become basketball players.”

The Griffins competed in the charter school league last year and finished fifth out of 16 teams. This season they are enrolled as part the Utah High School Activities Association. 

“I am here because I love basketball and am helping teach these kids the game,” Perfili said. “Our biggest draw is soccer, of course. Now, we are building just like any other basketball program.”

The school is a commuter-style charter with students from Layton to Springville. 

“I am a big proponent of the fact that the more sports you play, the better you become in your primary sport,” he said. “These guys have wanted to become part of something.”

The school population this year is 280 students. Next year, it is forecasted to be at capacity of 360. The first season in the UHSAA is a probationary year. During that time, school officals must prove they can support the program with facilities, coaches and equipment. Because the gymnasium at the school is not regulation size, the boys basketball team plays its home games at Salt Lake Community College.

The team lost their first game to East 81-20. 

“Every game, we are getting better and better,” Perfili said. “Each night, we focus on winning a quarter, then maybe we can win two or three then an entire game.”

Teaching a game to athletes that many of them have never played has proven difficult.

“Yeah, we had to teach that you can’t be out of bounds and dribble the ball in bounds,” he said. “In soccer, as long as the ball is inbounds it is fine. We had to start at square one. Some have played on super league teams, but for the most part not at all. One of our starting players had not touched a basketball before this season.”

Jordan Day leads the team in scoring averaging 14.1 points per game. He is the top freshman varsity scorer in the state. He has hit 54 percent of his shots this season. Sophomore Max Palmer is second in the state in steals averaging 3.6 per game. 

The Griffins are 3-11. Their wins include two contests against Freedom Prep and one over Westridge. Despite the challenging season, Perfili said it has been a fun season.

“Not bad for a bunch of soccer players,” he said. “We are all about the team.”