CHEYENNE – Earlier this summer, Elijah Oliver thought he had played his final competitive basketball game.
The former Cheyenne East standout tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee July 7, 2018. The injury was enough to scare away NCAA Division II Colorado State-Pueblo, which is where Oliver signed after a stellar two-year career at Laramie County Community College.
The injury was also making other schools think twice about signing him.
“It was hard for me to get any kind of attention because I was off the radar for a whole year,” Oliver said. “Some schools weren’t willing to take a chance on me because I had gotten hurt.
“I was starting to accept that there was more to life than basketball.”
Then Colorado Christian called.
Oliver – a 6-foot-1 guard – signed with the NCAA Division II school earlier this week.
“They called me out of nowhere,” he said. “One coach I was talking to didn’t have a scholarship open, but he ended up calling a coach he knew at Colorado Christian and telling them about me.
“I’m a big Christian, and my dad is a preacher. When Colorado Christian called me, I talked to them and decided I like being able to go to a school where people have the same beliefs as me, that has a good atmosphere and is about the students. It was eye-opening and really exciting.”
Oliver averaged 15.6 points in 65 career games at LCCC. He averaged 18.8 points during his sophomore campaign.
He made 43.3% (347 for 802) of his shots from the floor with the Golden Eagles. Oliver also was a 41.6% (141 for 339) shooter from behind the 3-point line. The psychology major was 178 for 233 (79.8%) from the free-throw line.
Oliver suffered his knee injury when he landed awkwardly while working out with his younger brother, Erik, who will suit up for LCCC this fall. Elijah Oliver was cleared for full basketball play in April and has been slowly working himself back into shape ever since.
“It’s a process,” he said. “I have been playing and jumping and being myself, but there are still mental blocks I have to overcome with certain things. I’m working on that but, overall, I feel good.
“It took a minute to get back into the flow of things because I wasn’t able to do anything with a basketball for six months. I lost a lot of feel, but I’m getting it back. I have to keep trusting it.”