FAIRBANKS-Three friends originally from Northern California on the men's basketball team reunite in a place they never imagined. Alaska.
"They're my best friends you know what I'm saying so if I could do it, they could do it," senior forward Ronnie Baker said. "I was basically the guinea pig. I had to come out here test it out, see how it was and I told them it was a good opportunity, great experience you know. How often can you say you've visited or been to school in Alaska? The staff, the athletic department is great. The school, academics is great."
"When he came up here I was shocked that he came and then he said it was all good," junior transder guard Rashaad Allen said. "That's how I got in contact with the coach and then it just ended up working out for the best.
Allen describes the history he has with Baker.
"Me and Ronnie have been playing since tenth grade so I mean we was always homies from there. Now to play with him now is cool I never thought I would but it just ended up being a blessing to now play with him."
Baker used the conference he played in as another selling point in getting his friends to sign with the Alaska Nanooks.
"It's a good conference. I think it's the top division two conference in the nation. And them being my boys they're going to take my word for it. I told Rashaad first. He signed first. Then Joe signed a little bit after and we took it from there," Baker said.
"I played against them my junior and senior year. I transferred to a city like 10 minutes away from where they lived," junior transfer guard Joe Slocum said. "[I] played against them, battled them, they beat me all four years but we kind of had a good friendship outside of the court. We used to always hang out and go out together after."
UAF head basketball coach Mick Durham noticed that the new transfers coming in wouldn't have much of a problem adjusting.
"Transition wise, them knowing each other, Ronnie there to help them when they need help has been great. But they're transition has been good. I mean they both like to play, they're both good students and they fit in very well."
The California trio isn't the only group from the same area who are close. Senior forward Stefan Tica and senior center Sergej Pucar are both from Serbia. They met on a flight to Germany for a camp a couple of years before coming to Alaska and stayed in touch ever since. Tica believes that the chemistry and connection Baker, Allen and Slocum have can mix well with the returners and other newcomers.
"All of us know already what everybody else is going to do and I think that's a big advantage. You talk about California connections, Serbia-I think with having Andrew back, Ronnie, me and Sergej, Dallen, Mike Stepovich-I mean all of us know and built up something special last year. So I think coming into this season we're all just going to have one connection not three or four so I think it's going to be on our side," Tica said.
"It's just crazy how things work man," Solcum said. "Everything happens for a reason. We're just out here in Alaska trying to make the best of the situation and win as much as possible."