Drew Buggs’ collegiate basketball career got off to a rough start even before he set foot on the court at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Buggs redshirted his true freshman season in 2016 as he recovered from multiple leg injuries he suffered in high school and was primed to be a key player for the Rainbow Warrior basketball team this season.
But in his regular season debut against Arkansas-Pine Bluff last month, Buggs shot 0-of-5, scoring just one point from the free throw line. His shooting and overall performance continued to rise and fall over the next few games, showing flashes of his two-way potential.
“You can’t rush the process, it’s the same for guys like Samuta (Avea) and Brandon (Thomas) … let them go through the process,” said head coach Eran Ganot. “It’s going to happen if they continue to trust the process and continue to work. They’ve all had flashes.”
Over his next four games, Buggs scored a combined 16 points in 77 minutes. He also turned the ball over 10 times in his first five games as a Warrior.
But Ganot was right: Buggs had to trust the process.
And once the calendar turned over to signal the start of December, Buggs -- finally -- found his groove.
Over his last three games, Buggs has scored 14, 17 and 13 points, respectively. He’s shooting an impressive 57.1 percent from the floor during that span, while hitting shots from beyond the arc at a 50 percent clip.
“My teammates have done a good job at telling me to stay confident and they’re always telling me to continue to push the ball and just try to make the tight play, whether that’s taking over the shot or finding an open teammate,” Buggs said.
While he’s only managed to record seven assists over the past three games, Buggs’ ability to bring the ball down the floor and create ball movement along the perimeter goes beyond the box score.
Ganot credits Buggs’ playmaking ability to his commitment to getting better in everyday in practice, as well as playing with confidence.
“Drew Buggs right now is attacking the rim, he’s getting to the line, he’s taking good, open three’s and he’s hitting them. I think, like anything, he’s gaining confidence,” Ganot said. “He’s going through the process that everybody has to go through. But that’s what’s going on for Drew - he went through the process … he didn’t succumb to it. He’s in the gym early and he learned from it.”
When asked about how he’s been able to find his role on offense for the Warriors, Buggs said simply, “I just try to pride myself on making the right basketball decision.”
The Warriors will hope that Buggs continues to make the right decisions on the floor as they prepare for a stiff test against Utah Valley this Sunday at the Stan Sheriff Center. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. HT.
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