There have been a lot of firsts this academic year in Juneau, with its brand-new athletic programs at Thunder Mountain High School.
Add another one to the list.
Senior do-it-all wing/point guard/forward Cody Grussendorf was the first Falcons basketball player named to the Alaska Newspapers Inc./Alaska Coaches All-State teams, where he was a Second Team honoree.
"I'm pretty excited to be representing the Southeast, and it's pretty hard to make the All-State team not being at the state tournament," Grussendorf said. "But it's pretty cool to be the first player from Thunder Mountain ever to be able to be able to (make All-State)."
TMHS coach John Blasco said being named All-State is a tremendous honor.
"It's a great feat that he should be very proud of. I'm proud of him for putting in all the work through the year. He's a very talented player and his numbers show that he's one of the top players across the state, and the Second Team is a big honor," he said. "He led our team in many different ways.
"He's the type of kid that can put up 20 points a night, but he can also get you eight to 10rebounds, and he wants to get you seven to 10 assists," he continued. "For such a young team to have a guy of his caliber to be able to help lead really takes a lot of pressure off of me."
And Grussendorf, who averaged better than 19 points and almost eight boards and five assists a game, doesn't mind wearing so many hats. In fact, his versatility is part of what makes him a college prospect.
"I was kind of like a utility player that does a lot of everything. I've always been taller than my (age) group of kids, and in middle school I always played point guard mainly, but I played every position up through center during games," Grussendorf said. "I'd guard the other teams best player unless I got in foul trouble, and then I'd guard their bigger guys. I guess I can do a lot of things."
Blasco said Grussendorf was his best defender, as well.
"Defensively, he was on the other teams' best offensive player every game, and he probably played 31 or 32 minutes a game," Blasco said. "Once he finally made his decision (to transfer from Juneau-Douglas), we talked a lot about what I was expecting going into the year, and he accomplished everything I'd hoped for and more."
Grussendorf said the decision to transfer to a new school and play in a new system with new guys is one he doesn't regret, mainly because the new guys were old friends.
"It was tough at first, but it was really fun. I really, really had a lot of fun this year with coach Blasco, who's like one of my best friends," he said. "And all my friends went to Thunder Mountain this year and it was fun playing with them on the court, for once. Downtown, they wouldn't have had their shot to make the team because JDHS already has its program set up with their kids going through freshman year up to senior year."
Possibly a spot on a college roster.
"I'm hoping so. I'm talking with some coaches down at some Northern California colleges," Grussendorf said. "I really want to go to Humboldt State; that's my No. 1 choice. But my dad and I are talking about it and coach Blasco's trying to help me out, so we'll see."
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