Nico Carvacho is embracing the role as leader of the CSU men's basketball program

Nico Carvacho plays an important role for Colorado State men’s basketball. The 6-foot-11 forward leads the Mountain West at 12.4 rebounds per game, but the “Big Chile” does so much more than just own the glass. Carvacho is a gifted passer, stout defender and most importantly, Carvacho has developed into the Rams’ most vocal leader both on and off the court.

Having learned from former CSU greats like Joe De Ciman, Emmanuel Omogbo, Gian Clavell and Tiel Daniels, Carvacho is no longer the baby-faced hoopster that came to campus four years ago. Carvacho has experienced the highs of winning, the lows of losing, and that does even begin to explain the emotional rollercoaster that became synonymous with the previous coaching staff.

Following Thursday’s practice, Carvacho took a minute to reflect on his journey. More specifically, Carvacho explained that he is enjoying his role as the team’s vocal leader. Whether it is helping the freshman adjust to the energy of conference play or giving them advice on how to handle the road, Carvacho has fully embraced being the kind of veteran that other guys in the locker room can rely on.

Nico Carvacho dunks the basketball during Thursday’s practice.   PHOTO:   Justin Michael | Rams Report

Nico Carvacho dunks the basketball during Thursday’s practice. PHOTO: Justin Michael | Rams Report

“I actually was thinking about it the other day,” Carvacho said. “I came here, 6’11”, 205 (pounds), just a young guy trying to listen to Gian and E and Tiel and Joe and everybody. Now four years later, I’m the same guy doing what they were trying to do… They helped me get to where I am right now.”

Fresh off of earning Mountain West Player of the Week honors, Carvacho is considered to be one of the most dominant post players in the league, both offensively and defensively.

The big man already has 11 double-digit rebound performances, and as the season has gone on, Carvacho has shown more and more confidence on the offensive end. Over CSU’s last 10 games, Carvacho has scored at least 20 points eight times.

“Nico is growing in so many ways,” head coach Niko Medved said. “He’s growing as a player—I think he’s developing more confidence in himself. He’s starting to look at himself differently as a player and be more of a go-to guy on offense, you know an everyday guy. And I think he’s also developing as a leader; like realizing that how he practices everyday, how he plays and being an emotional leader for us has helped us.”

With 14 regular season games remaining, Carvacho hopes to continue putting up big numbers, but his biggest priority is building off of the team’s last two victories. Carvacho knows as well as anyone that anything can happen come March, and the veteran believes that this team is talented enough to make some noise.

“We’ve let some games go this year and we’re trying to learn from it, but I’m proud of the way we’ve fought over the last four games. We’ve been in the game and had chances to win in all of them,” Carvacho said.

After letting two chances at the first road wins of the season slip through their grasp at UNLV and Fresno State, Carvacho and the Rams will face Utah State on Saturday. The Aggies are 13-5 overall and 3-2 in league games.

PHOTO: Tony Villalobos-May | Rocky Mountain Collegian