Scottie Bordelon is a reporter for the Hawgs Sports Network. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas and previously covered high school sports for the Times Record in Fort Smith and the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He was the 2022 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Committed to the comeback: Brazile driven to show complete game in '23-24
Arkansas forward Trevon Brazile shoots a jumper on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022, during the second half of a basketball game against Fordham at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — Trevon Brazile sometimes stays up late these days practicing and watching plenty of video.
But not for the reason you might expect.
“I’ve been golfing a little bit here recently. I just started,” Brazile told WholeHogSports on Thursday. “I’m not too bad. It’s a good hobby to have, especially with me going through rehab and not able to do all the activities that I want.
“I just fell in love with it. I just kind of fell in love with it within a week. Cade [Arbogast] really got me into it. My swing is not all the way where I want it to be yet, but it’s getting there. Definitely going to get some new clubs for this summer. I’m actually working on that now.”
He credits Arbogast, a walk-on guard, for putting golf on his mind. Brazile, who stands 6-10, said he was using the 6-3 Arbogast’s clubs at first.
“I think that’s probably part of the reason that I’m having trouble,” Brazile joked. “Nearly everyone that I’ve played with tells me that every time, to get new clubs because I’m so tall.”
Of late, golf has served as an outlet, and the course an oasis of sorts for Brazile, who is about four months removed from an operation that repaired the ACL in his right knee. He suffered the injury Dec. 6 during the first half of the Razorbacks’ home game against North Carolina-Greensboro.
Brazile learned a great deal about himself and interests beyond basketball following the setback. And he described himself as something of a lone wolf growing up, so he has actively tried to get active in the community and be more social in recent months.
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“There’s more to life than just basketball,” Brazile said. “With basketball I can kind of put myself in an eggshell and just play basketball. But whenever there’s not that, you’ve got to find other things.”
But make no mistake about it: the talent-rich forward who Eric Musselman recently said he is building much of the 2023-24 Razorbacks around is as driven as ever.
Brazile said he spends 2 to 3 hours in the weight room each day, working to build strength in his base. It beats the 3 to 5 weeks after surgery in which he was “almost on bed rest” and on crutches when he did get around.
“It’s been awesome to see Trevon progress over the last few months both on and off the court,” Musselman wrote in a text message. “He has a tremendous personality and is continuing to develop his leadership skills. He’s really taken the time since his surgery to continue to strengthen his body in the weight room.
“On the court, he’s worked on his touch around the rim and continues to progress toward spot shooting both in the midrange and three-point. We couldn’t be happier with his progress both on and off the floor and look forward to seeing him at full strength in the coming months.”
Brazile often tells those around him each day that he feels as if his body heals differently than most, though he knows it doesn’t. As of now, he believes he is 30 to 40% back to himself.
There is no set date to return to live action, he said.
“It’ll be early September, maybe late August,” Brazile added. “I had surgery the 29th of December, so it kind of lines up with the year, so by nine months, by September, I’ll be fully cleared. Then there will just be a matter of if I’m 100% ready to go mentally and physically.
“I’ll be with the team [this summer] and I’ll start to begin doing stuff in practice. Each couple of weeks I should be able to add a few things that I’ll be able to do. Obviously no live, but just being able to be there with the team…I haven’t practiced with a team and [gotten] be a leader and give my input, so it’s going to be good this summer to get back out there and get a feel for the game and be a leader for these guys.”
Brazile noted that he has been healthy mentally since his injury. Arbogast, forward Jalen Graham, who has announced he will return next season, and head athletic trainer for men's basketball Matt Townsend have been — and still are — the main people he has leaned on.
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Arbogast, Graham and Brazile “clicked” after returning from the team’s foreign tour to Italy and Spain last August. They hung out before Brazile’s injury and after, and he says the teammates never changed.
“Those guys kept treating me the same and showed me a lot of love during my time,” Brazile said. “They helped me out with rides and stuff. I give kudos to them. I love those guys. [Townsend], he’s been there with me pretty much every day since my injury, so obviously that guy has a big role in all of this.”
On March 30, the forward announced on social media his return for the 2023-24 season. Musselman described it as “a great day for Hog basketball.”
“Trevon is highly motivated to have a great year next year both individually and as a team,” Musselman wrote. “Medically, he’s hitting all of his targets and goals with Matt Townsend and [strength and conditioning coach] Dave Richardson.
“TB is one of the most talented and versatile players in the country and will be a leader for us in so many ways.”
In 9 games last season, Brazile averaged 11.8 points and 6 rebounds in 27 minutes per game, shot 37.9% from three-point range, and contributed 11 blocks and 9 steals.
As a freshman at Missouri, Brazile scored 15 points once — in his last game. With the Razorbacks, he had 20-plus points three times, another game with 17 points and recorded a pair of double-doubles.
Brazile is a firm believer that what he showed in a small sample last season — including perhaps the dunk of the year in Game 3 — is just the basics of what he is capable of doing. Defensively, he wants to become a lockdown defender, not just a shot blocker, and on the other end continued growth is the goal.
“I had options to go pro, but I’m not just trying to get drafted at this point,” Brazile said. “I want to go as high as possible — God forbid nothing happens. The main thing for me coming back was I really wanted to give the fans what they didn’t get to see last year. I didn’t feel like I got to show my full potential or anything like that.
“Just being able to get back out there, man, and play in Bud Walton, I think about that every day. Being able to go out there and show I’m one of those Alpha dogs out there and I’m a leader, I’m as confident as ever, that felt really good [last season].
“I can’t even imagine how good I’m going to be feeling going into this next year.”
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