Sports

Broussard is up to Seattle U hoops challenge

Seattle University senior Aaron Broussard returns as the Redhawks’ leading scorer (14.5 points) and rebounder (7.7) after starring at Federal Way High School. - Eric Badeau, Seattle University
Seattle University senior Aaron Broussard returns as the Redhawks’ leading scorer (14.5 points) and rebounder (7.7) after starring at Federal Way High School.
— image credit: Eric Badeau, Seattle University

Aaron Broussard has always been up for a challenge.

So when Seattle University offered the 6-foot-5 forward from Federal Way High School a scholarship before his senior season, Broussard had no idea what the next four years held for him.

Back in 2008, when Broussard inked with the Redhawk basketball team, Seattle U was transitioning into its first season as a Division-I program. During his freshman season, the team played a spattering of Division-I games before switching to an exclusive Division-I schedule. Last year, Seattle U beat established programs like Oregon State, Navy and Virginia on their way to an 11-win season despite not being eligible to play in the NCAA Tournament.

“We have kind of put our team on the map and we did it a lot quicker than I thought,” Broussard said. “Our goal this season is to make the NIT and get the job done.”

Things have worked out quite well for Broussard, the current Seattle University senior. He was named a preseason, first-team All-Independent by CollegeSportsMadness.com after leading the Redhawks last season with 14.5 points and 7.7 rebounds a game.

Broussard credits the evolution of his game during his tenure at Seattle U for his success at the college level.

“When I was in high school, I was more of an inside player,” he said. “Now my game is more balanced inside and outside. I have learned to play my position based on match ups. I’m more of a post-up guy if I have a smaller guard on me and I take on the guard responsibilities if I have a bigger guy on me.”

After playing the last four years as an independent school, Seattle will join the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) next fall. And with that move, the Redhawks will be eligible to play in the NCAA Tournament after the 2012-13 season.

Broussard really burst onto the statewide basketball scene during Federal Way’s run during the 2008 Class 4A State Tournament. The then-senior led the Eagles to the program’s first-ever appearance in the state title game, which ended in a loss to unbeaten Ferris.

Broussard was a monster during Federal Way’s four-game run to second place. He averaged 20.3 points and was named first-team, all-tournament. He tallied 29 points, 14 rebounds and three steals during Federal Way’s semifinal win over Decatur.

Broussard took the state tournament momentum into his freshman season at Seattle U under head coach Joe Callero. He averaged an impressive 6.7 points and 4.2 rebounds for the Redhawks in his first season.

But Callero, who recruited Broussard, left Seattle U for Cal Poly following Broussard’s first season. Callero was eventually replaced by University of Washington assistant Cameron Dollar.

“It was almost like coming to the university all over again,” Broussard said. “I had some concerns, but it was also a positive time. (Dollar) is a really good coach and I have learned a lot in the last two years. He has shown me different ways to think about the game."

As a sophomore, Broussard upped his averages up to 10.3 points and 5.1 rebounds a game, while starting 30 of the Redhawks' 31 games.

"Coach Dollar has taught me not to hold back," Broussard said. "Leave it all on the court and not to leave here regretting that I didn't do something."

This season, Broussard is one of only two seniors on Seattle U's roster, meaning he is going to take on a similar leadership role that he had at Federal Way.

"I have really improved as a leader," said Broussard, who is majoring in criminal justice. "I have worked a lot on my confidence and focusing on what I'm good at. I need to help the new guys out."

This year's schedule features home games against teams like Stanford, San Francisco, Virginia, Utah State and Pepperdine. The Redhawks will also travel to play Portland State, Harvard, Fresno State and the University of Washington, among others. The Redhawks play all their home games at KeyArena.

Seattle U has a rich basketball history, despite not being a Division I school since 1980. In the 1950s, the team was a powerhouse with brothers Johnny and Eddie O’Brien, who led Seattle University as the only team in history to defeat the world famous Harlem Globetrotters.

In 1958, NBA Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor paced a team that advanced to the Final Four and defeated top-ranked Kansas State before losing to the University of Kentucky in the title game.

In 1980, SU left the West Coast Conference and Division I membership and entered the NAIA, where it remained for nearly 20 years before moving into Division II in the fall of 2002.

Broussard and the Redhawks open the season Nov. 12 with an exhibition game against Pacific Lutheran University in KeyArena.

 

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