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Moscow soph Buchanan transferring to Lake City

by MARK NELKE
Sports Editor | September 6, 2020 1:20 AM

The Lake City High boys basketball team, which qualified for state last season with three freshman starters, got a little deeper recently — while still staying young.

Blake Buchanan, a rising 6-foot-9 sophomore who started on Moscow High’s state runner-up team last season, is transferring to Lake City, his mother, University of Idaho volleyball coach Debbie Buchanan, confirmed to The Press on Saturday.

“It just seemed like the right thing for Blake, and the right opportunity,” Debbie Buchanan said.

Debbie and husband Buck are building a house in Hayden, expected to be completed next spring. Debbie said she and Buck had planned to retire in this area someday anyway. In the meantime, Buck and Blake will live in a rental in Coeur d’Alene. Debbie will stay in Moscow and continue to coach the Vandals, where she’s been the head coach for the past 20 seasons. The Buchanans are selling their home in Moscow, and Debbie plans to rent an apartment there.

Buck is a salesman for the Odom Corporation, a beer distributor which has a warehouse in Hayden. He is transferring to the Coeur d’Alene area.

“I can still do what I love, my husband can stay with the same company, and we can help our son be closer to his stuff,” said Debbie, the former St. Maries High volleyball star.

Blake Buchanan plays on an AAU basketball team based in Spokane, which requires driving up from Moscow 2-3 times a week. Often Debbie would drive him to practice, but with the current COVID-19 policy in the University of Idaho athletic department, if someone leaves the “bubble” down there, they must self-quarantine for five days and be tested for COVID-19 before returning to the group.

She said especially if the policy lasted through the spring, that could keep her away for days at a time from her volleyball team, which has been doing weight training since mid-July, and plans to return to practice Sept. 14. The Big Sky volleyball season, along with the conference’s other fall sports, has been pushed back to the spring.

“If I can’t drive him to Spokane, and if my husband can’t get off work, that means Blake is driving himself an hour and 45 minutes up and back, 2 or 3 times a week, and I don’t really feel comfortable with that,” Debbie said.

Living in the Coeur d’Alene area, Blake will be much closer to Spokane — and closer to other AAU teammates headed to Spokane for practice.

Two of his teammates on his AAU team play for Lake City — point guard Kolton Mitchell and forward Zach Johnson.

"Obviously Blake and his family moving to Coeur d'Alene is a huge deal for us," Lake City coach Jim Winger said. "We have seven guys back this year that went to state last year as a very young and inexperienced team. He is a real talent and he is an excellent student. He is a great fit for our team next winter in a variety of ways. Anytime a 6-9 sophomore comes through your doors with that kind of talent, it is a great day."

Debbie said Moscow’s recent decision to not play interscholastic sports, and instead play within the school as intramural teams — a decision reversed last week — played no factor in her son’s transfer.

It was more about the opportunities to play basketball in this area, compared to the Moscow-Pullman-Lewiston area.

“We just didn’t want to limit what he could do during this time,” Debbie said.

Debbie said her family made a similar decision a few years ago with their oldest son, Austin, who spent the last 2 ½ years of high school playing volleyball in Northern California. Austin earned a scholarship to Hawaii, where he is a freshman.

“We’re having to make a few sacrifices as a family, and kinda do what’s best for everybody,” Debbie said.

Blake Buchanan, who averaged 12.7 points and 8.3 rebounds in three games at state last year, would have been one of three returning starters at Moscow. Now, he’ll join a Lake City team that already returns four starters.

“It was a really hard decision,” Debbie said. “It was pretty emotional for him to say goodbye to his coach down here, and his friends. He’s grown up with all these kids; he was born here. It was emotional, but it was the right thing. We love the university, love the community, loved raising our kids here. It was a really tough decision for us to take him out of this.”