COLORADO, USA — You know the stars of your college basketball teams, but what about these guys?
"I think my role is bringing it every day no matter what. Providing the energy," University of Denver guard Korey Hess said.
"We get our couple minutes when we’re winning but our role is to make the team better," added CU center Will Loughlin.
"I’m super vocal on the bench. Anything I can do to help lead these guys," said CSU forward Nick Bassett.
They’re the walk-ons who make up the scout teams and challenge the starters every day in practice. They study film and mimic the opponents plays.
Denver has sophomore guard Korey Hess, the local kid who starred at Arapahoe High School.
"I think it’s really helpful," Hess said. "A lot of the time our guys see it from one aspect and they’re defending it. I’m playing it and defending. I’m able to pull them aside during the timeout and say, ‘Look I was able to do this and kind of give them my own knowledge of it."
Rams junior forward Nick Bassett, a Colorado Springs native, hopes to springboard his scout team experience into a future career.
“I’m really interested in coaching. And getting to learn all those different plays from other schools is great. It’s almost like you get to learn from a hundred different coaches in one season. I think it grows my basketball IQ and it helps make these guys better which, at the end of the day, that’s what matters most.”
Bassett also shared a compliment he received from one of his teammates, “I’ve heard Isaiah Stevens say that the scout team ran their stuff better than the other team did in an actual game so hearing stuff like that from them is really influencing us for them to keep working at it.”
Then there’s Buffalos senior big man Will Loughlin, who hadn’t started playing basketball until his senior year in high school. Loughlin was a longtime lacrosse player but now embodies everything about being a walk-on.
"I don’t want to over-hype what we do. We definitely aren’t out there under the bright lights," Loughlin laughed. "We work hard. I think we’re appreciated. Everywhere you go it’s CU. It’s like, ‘oh you’re on the basketball team,’ it’s not like, ‘oh you don’t play.’ The students definitely appreciate it. It’s fun. They still come and cheer for me in the stands.
It’s the pride that these players feel about the role they bring to their teams that is very special.
"Major pride," said Hess. "I want to represent Denver and do what I can to help the program. I also want to represent the name on my back which is my last name so just looking in the mirror and knowing I give it my all every day I think is huge for me."
"I’m extremely humbled," said Bassett. "Anything I can do to help these guys win, that’s what matters to me."
"I am a CU basketball player. Like, scholarship, non-scholarship, doesn’t matter like we’re here," said Loughlin. "We all accomplish the same thing. We all want to win. And we all have that pride about winning in our own game. And I definitely have a lot of pride."
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