OGDEN — Cody John’s path to senior night for a college basketball program was anything but sure.
John left his home in the Toronto area at age 13 in the pursuit of becoming the first in his family to attend college, hoping to make basketball his ticket by attending Wasatch Academy in Mount Pleasant, Utah — a college prep boarding school for grades 8-12.
And that was just the start of the journey that ends with John becoming the 36th player in Weber State history to score 1,000 career points.
“He’s been snakebitten, there’s no doubt about it,” WSU head coach Randy Rahe said. “A lesser guy or another player may have said ‘this isn’t worth it.’ ... That’s not Cody John. He’s going to keep fighting.”
The private school was early in its push to recruit international players, and John played varsity basketball with future Utah State/Marquette guard Koby McEwen and Santa Clara forward Josip Vrankic, each also hailing from the Toronto area. His senior season, he averaged 19.1 points per game.
Rahe said he first saw John play during summer AAU ball when he went to watch and recruit someone else.
“But all summer, Cody’s the one who kept jumping out at me because he played hard and made plays. He was just a good, solid player,” Rahe said.
Though Weber State hadn’t offered John, Rahe said he eventually became in need of a guard and his staff immediately traveled to Mount Pleasant to officially recruit the 6-foot-3 guard.
John was receiving overtures from Iona, Saint Bonaventure, Utah Valley, Southern Utah and, coming in late, Colorado.
“Coming on my visit here felt like a family, it felt genuine, nothing felt fake. It felt like the right fit for me,” John said, and Weber State was his choice.
John’s freshman stats don’t pop but, over 30 games, he averaged 4.4 points and 1.5 assists per game, also averaging just one turnover in 17 minutes per night of guard duty off the bench for a team that went 26-8 and beat Montana to go to the NCAA Tournament.
As a sophomore, John started 28 of 34 games and helped WSU to the precipice of another NCAA Tournament appearance before the train left the track late in the Big Sky title game against North Dakota.
John played just three minutes each in two CIT games that followed, then didn’t play again for nearly 20 months. He suffered a back injury that eventually resulted in a fractured vertebrae in his lower back.
“The doctor said there’s no promises I’d ever play again, so there was some doubt,” John told the Standard-Examiner in January 2019.
But after missing a season, his junior year arrived in 2018 and John was a full-time starter, scoring 22 points in 37 minutes at San Diego in his return to the court.
“It’s just not in my DNA, just giving up. This is all I know, basketball. There’s no way I could throw in the towel, I had to give it a shot to see if I could come back and play through that injury,” he said.
John averaged 16 points per game in nonconference play before the next snake bite came.
“He works his tail off, lives in the gym, gets back into shape and then, early in conference play, he badly bruises his heel,” Rahe said.
After the times John did practice during the 2019 conference schedule, he would make his way behind the scorers table, take off a shoe, cut through a thick bit of tape around his heel, then stick his foot in an ice bucket.
“It was a bad one. He dealt with that for two months. He played through it, and I don’t know how he did it,” Rahe said.
Then, poised to join Jerrick Harding as a deadly duo of senior guards in the Big Sky this season, John had to undergo a knee scope. After recovery went from an expected three weeks to a prolonged five, John’s best physical condition of his career deteriorated and he entered the 2019-20 season with limited preseason preparation — something that would later affect his backcourt mate Harding, who lost his preseason to a foot procedure to address the makings of a stress fracture.
But here he is, having played all 27 games of the season entering this weekend’s homestand against Portland State and Idaho State. With the availability of other planned starters limited at different points or taken away altogether, John is averaging a whopping 34.1 minutes per game.
He’s gone from a player with field goal/3-point/free-throw shooting percentage splits of 36.8/15.5/60.5 as a freshman to 42.4/34.5/83.1 as a senior.
John entered the weekend tied for 16th on WSU’s all-time scoring list at 1,240 points and will move into at least 15th to finish his career.
And he graduates this spring with a degree in professional sales.
“It was a bumpy road for sure but I just weathered the storm,” he said. “Nothing has ever come easy to me, there’s always something that’s come up my whole life but I always find a way to push through it.”
Rahe said what attracted him to John as a basketball player in the first place, and what has earned his respect, was his work ethic, his consistency, being sure of his best skills and not trying to do more than he was able.
“He’s a fantastic kid,” Rahe said. “He’s about winning. That’s all he cares about. If we win and he scores zero, he’s good. He’s had a big effect on our program with his attitude and how hard he works every day.”