Top prospects, clutch performers, high-flying dunkers and record-setting nights rightfully dominate the college basketball media’s attention. The viewing public has shown time and again that it can never get enough of the game’s brightest stars, and their incredible feats certainly deserve the recognition.
The supporting cast, however, including walk-on players, is what truly helps teams succeed.
There is usually a player or two on nearly every top team who works as hard as anyone but for no recognition and no guarantee of playing time. These players do not play for a scholarship or for a career in professional basketball, but rather for love of the game and out of a desire to push their talents as far as they can.
Asiah Avent, a junior from Springfield, N.J., came to Seton Hall by way of the University of Hartford. He is studying criminal justice and is pursuing a career in the field. He is also a walk-on member of the men’s basketball team.
Walk-ons are not recruited to play for the team, and they are not lured by scholarships. Instead, they try out and earn their place on the squad because of their desire to play at the highest level they can. Many walk-ons, including Avent, were offered places in lower-ranking programs but chose to spurn them for a chance at the highest level.
“I had D-II and D-III offers,” Avent said. “[I chose Seton Hall] because of the culture and the family here and this is an opportunity that I can’t turn down. I was really looking forward to Seton Hall because of the academics and the opportunity to play basketball at this level.”
Like the other student-athletes, Avent balances his time between class, homework and team activities. He practices every day, dresses for the games and is ready to play at any notice. Despite being a walk-on, he is as much a part of the team as anyone else. Like any other scholarship athlete, Avent has to deal with the rigors of collegiate athletics and the classroom, even if he isn’t here on a free ride.
Avent’s father, Anthony, also played basketball at Seton Hall, totaling over 1,000 career points and winning the 1991 Big East Championship before becoming a first-round draft pick of the Atlanta Hawks and spending several years in the NBA. His professional basketball journey took him from Atlanta to Orland and eventually, all the way overseas to play for Panathinaikos in Athens, Greece.
Avent said that his father played a role in his decision to come to Seton Hall but not from a basketball perspective, despite his spot in program lore and strong ties to some of the most successful teams in school history.
“He doesn’t really press basketball into me,” Avent said. “He just talks to me about life and he helped prep me for Seton Hall.”
Avent made his Seton Hall debut on Nov. 6, logging two minutes in the Pirates’ 40-point dismantling of Wagner. Opportunities on the court will likely be scarce, but count on Avent to work as hard as he can for those chances.
He earned his place on the team and he will push for a place on the court. That is what being a walk-on is all about.
Kyle Beck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. or on Twitter @notkylebeck.