Lone Star defenseman Stuart makes NCAA DI commitment
May 16, 2018
Connor Stuart played in the 2018 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament (photo by Rebekah Bing).
The Lone Star Brahmas of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) are pleased to announce that defenseman Connor Stuart has announced that he has committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for Arizona State University for the 2018-19 season. The native of Phoenix, Arizona is excited for the opportunity to go home and continue his hockey journey.
“It feels unbelievable,” Stuart said with a smile. “It was my dream school ever since they became Division I. I was sitting in my senior ceramics class when the news broke and I told my mom that’s where I was going to play and the fact that it all came together is just unbelievable.”
Having seen Stuart play the previous two seasons in Odessa, the Brahmas coaching staff knew the kind of player they were getting and he did not disappoint. Playing top four minutes, Stuart set career highs in goals (8) and assists (18).
“We’re thrilled for Stu,” Assistant Coach Justin Hale said. “Couldn’t have happened to a better guy. Just seeing his growth and development from the start of the season when we got him to how he finished, he was, he made a lot of strides and was well respected within the locker room and that showed by him getting a letter at the end of the year. He played top minutes for us and is a great kid and great player and I’m happy he’s getting to go to his home town school and fulfill his dream.”
“The first two years in Odessa were rough and a lot of stuff happened where I wasn’t really getting the opportunities I wanted and when they got rid of me, I went to Philly hoping something would come out of it but nothing came out of it and I got sent here,” Stuart said. “Luckily Dan [Wildfong] really took me under his wing and turned me into the player I am now and I think he and coach [Justin] Hale are big reasons why I am where I am.”
Stuart played 143 games in the North American Hockey League over the last three seasons and the now 21-year-old defenseman would like to thank all the coaches who believed in him.
“I want to thank anyone who ever took a chance on me and thought that I could play,” Stuart said. “Never being drafted or tendered or anything, just the coaches who were willing to stick their neck out for me and put me in the right position, I can’t thank them enough for giving me the opportunity.”
The recruiting process heated up for Brahmas’ alternate captain in February, when he was chosen to represent the South Division at the 2018 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament. Throughout the week, Arizona State’s Associate Head Coach Mike Fields was one of the coaches who spoke to Stuart and now it’s official.
“Top Prospects was a big part of the whole thing, I would say,” Stuart said. “Top Prospects really got me in front of a lot of schools’ eyes and to get that opportunity was unbelievable. Just a lot of schools, a lot of exposure and that was really the first time [ASU] got to see me actually play and in detail so I think that was the big thing that pushed me to catch their eye.”
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound skater will head home this summer to train in Arizona and California with the knowledge that a relatively small decision three years ago would change his journey forever.
“Three years ago I was fully enrolled [at Arizona State], had a full schedule, I had my roommate, my dorm, and then literally a week before enrollment, I backed out of this whole thing to go the junior hockey route. It’s crazy to think that I’ll be able to go back and live in the dorms where I was visiting my buddies for three years prior,” Stuart said.
Now Stuart will have the opportunity to study business and marketing as a student athlete. He made quite a name for himself in Texas and hopes to lead ASU to its first National Championship.
“Be the Tradition” is the tagline for the ASU hockey team, and Stuart is excited to be part of that.
“Just being the furthest team out west, in my home town, to get the opportunity to win a National Championship with the new program is a dream come true.”