Huskies add pair of U.P. walk-ons

By Michael Bleach

HOUGHTON – Fresh in the wake of Superior Central’s Jordan Chartier’s successful freshman year, the Michigan Tech men’s basketball team has added two more U.P. products with A.J. Grazulis (Marquette) and Tanner Uren (Negaunee) agreeing to walk on to the program for the 2013-14 season.

Grazulis and Uren make it three upper peninsula walk-ons in the last two seasons for the Huskies, joining Kingsford’s Jeff Gregory from last year.

“I am hoping that they can eventually contribute,” Tech men’s coach Kevin Luke said. “We look as walk-ons as not any different than a recruited kid to be honest with you. We are hoping that some day they are going to earn a scholarship and play. I am not looking for a practice player.

“Both kids are nice additions for our program.”

Grazulis – who was selected all-U.P. first team after averaging 12 points per game his senior season – stood out to Luke and assistant coach Josh Buettner for both his work-rate and his future potential.

Undersized at 6-foot-6 for a center, Grazulis makes up for the difference in inches with an intensity and instinct under the hoop that cannot be taught.

“He has great hands and he has a tremendous motor. He goes,” Luke said. “He is the first one to hit the floor, he doesn’t stop and he is willing to listen and learn. He has a chance to be a pretty big kid, especially if he gets a little bit taller. He will be a handful in there.”

The hope that Grazulis could add an inch or two is not just blind optimism on Luke’s part either.

The Marquette-product graduated as a young 17-year-old, giving hope that center will be able to match up physically with GLIAC post players after a redshirt season.

“He is very young. Very young.” Luke said. “He is only 17-years-old, so he might still get a few inches.”

Along with Grazulis, Uren rounds out the roster with a pronounced U.P.-hoops resume and a clear path to success.

Luke believes learning behind the likes of all-conference caliber shooting guards Ben Stelzer and Austin Armga for several years will prepare Uren for the rigors of GLIAC play.

“Tanner comes from a great program, he plays hard, and I’ll tell you, he is fairly skilled,” Luke said. “He has a good basketball mind and he is a tough kid.”