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Davis, California

Thursday, April 18, 2024

We’re not in Kansas anymore


Freshman guard Siler Schneider is a valuable addition to the UC Davis men’s basketball team

There’s a tornado warning in the Pavilion as freshmen guard Siler Schneider enters to play in the starting lineup. The Kansas native has made a trey to tie the game for overtime and a buzzer beater at home as the Aggies continue on their 10-16 season, 5-8 Big West Conference record, in pursuit of another conference championship.

During his four years at Lansing High School in Kansas, the young Schneider led the team to three Kaw Valley League championships. In his final year with the Lions, he took the team to a perfect 25-0 record, achieving 86 wins of 99 total games during his career there. The DiRenna Award finalist was also named Kansas 5A Player of the Year in his final season at Lansing.

Schneider knew that no matter what school he picked, his parents were bound to do some air time in order to watch him play, so picking UC Davis out of other recruiting schools was not a matter of location, but a search for family.

“It’s about that home away from home,” Schneider said. “I got that vibe from the day I stepped on campus that this place felt like home to me.”

A close connection and instant acceptance from the UC Davis men’s basketball team helped him through the transition. Schneider looks to teammates both on and off the court for advice on life and basketball, especially senior forward Josh Fox and junior guard Darius Graham.

“Fox is a guy you can always go to and you can get a for-sure bucket if you need one,” Schneider said. “Darius, he’s… he’s mister ‘handle.’ He takes care of the ball, you can get the ball to him if you are ever in trouble.”

Fox chuckled modestly at the thought of being an inspiration to the promising athlete.

“It’s tough playing at the Division I level,” Fox said. “I try to take him under my wing and tell him when he makes mistakes to just move on. He’s a great player and I just want him to keep that confidence, so I try to instill it in him.”

The avid positivity and motivation flowing Schneider’s way has had a rewarding toll on his career as he broke a Division I single-season record for a true freshman with a game-starting three-pointer against Cal Poly on Feb. 18.

The trey could be attributed to the constant reminding Schneider hears about focus and learning from mistakes; head coach Jim Les feels that it brings up the respect level the first year has acquired.

“Those are things that are hard to teach,” Les said. “He’s embraced his role on this team and earned the minutes he’s getting. I always thought, as a player, that the greatest respect you can get is from the guys sitting next to you or the guys you practice with everyday.”

However, the new Aggie is not without flaws. Being in his first season of Division I basketball, there is a lot to adjust to.

“There is definitely a lot I have to improve on and Coach Les, he’s been a teacher the whole time and I’ve just been learning everyday from him and I’ll continue to learn,” Schneider said.

Schneider has picked up numerous fouls on the court but attributes them mostly to the adjustment. He does feel that a year at the Air Force Academy Prep School he attended following his high school graduation in 2014 was a positive decision to help him grow and work on his previous troubles.

“I had in the back of my mind that it was a prep school,” Schneider said. “It was another year of development and it wouldn’t take any eligibility away from me. I always knew I could leave that situation if I didn’t feel comfortable, and that’s what happened.”

During the recruitment process, Les found that to be a good addition to Schneider’s background.

“The year of mental and physical maturity really stepped in and allowed him to play really well,” Les said. “What put us over the top was just the way he carries himself, he’s got some moxie, he’s got some toughness, he’s not afraid to take and make the big shot.”

Fox also sees what made him stand out to the Aggies playing alongside him, assessing both what the freshman needs to work on and what makes him an outstanding player.

“He’s got this fire competitiveness in him and sometimes he kind of just tries to let it go and tries to take one on five, which I love,” Fox said. “We just love his tenacity and everything, but you know young guys make mistakes, and one on five makes it kind of hard to score the ball.”

Looking forward, Schneider is expected to be a big presence on the court. As the Aggies continue their season, he continues to be in the starting lineup. The dust never settles when number five is running through a tunnel of his teammates.

“The learning experience he’s going through,” Les said. “It’s kind of exciting. When he absorbs all this after his freshman year, once he gains that experience and continues to grow and gets stronger and continues to adapt to Division I basketball, he’s going to be a force to be dealt with in this league for a long time.”


Written by Veronica Vargo – sports@theaggie.org


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