By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

Samaad Hector reflects as his final season at CWU nears its end

Photo courtesy Nevaeh Capetillo

Last Thursday, CWU men’s basketball team crushed the Western Washington University (WWU) men’s basketball team; sending the Vikings home with a 97-75 score. 

The leading scorer for the Wildcats was senior forward Samaad Hector, who also recorded a double-double in the game, with 23 points and 13 rebounds. For the 2023-24 season Hector has been averaging 12.8 points per game with 7.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. Hector has been playing with CWU for the past two years and has made a huge impact in the team. Following this double-double, Hector was named the Great Northwest Athletic Conference men’s basketball Player of the Week for the first time. 

Head coach Brandon Rinta originally tried to scout Hector while he was still playing in highschool, but Hector turned him down once, twice and a third time. “I knew he was gonna be a big part in what we were gonna do, getting to know over the recruiting project, he is the best rebounder I have ever coached and I knew he would be,” Rinta said. “When you have someone his size when he can rebound like him and shoot like him, it’s a great combination for a forward.”  

During his high school years, he was named the Clark County Player of the Year, first team all-region and second team all state. He then continued his career at Lower Columbia College Red Devils where he also broke multiple records. 

Hector scored and pulled down 37 double-doubles in his two seasons with the Red Devils. His sophomore year with the team, he was named MVP and Defensive Player of the Year for the 2020 Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) West Region. Hector also broke the school record for most rebounds in a season (764), as well as the all-time record for rebounds (432). He went on to continue his collegiate career at Sacramento State University before ending up in Ellensburg.  

“I learned that he made connections with people really quick, it was easy to talk to him,” senior guard Camron McNeil said. McNeil has been playing with Hector for the past two years and is also roommates with him.

Hector recalled meeting the two players who inspired to play basketball. One of them being four-time NBA champion LeBron James, the other, another Lakers legend who he shares a jersey number with (24). 

“My biggest inspiration throughout all of this would be LeBron James,” Hector said. “I met him and Kobe [Bryant] at a Laker game when I was six years old. I was just in so much awe because they’re huge. I was looking up at them on TV, and I just thought that everything they did was cool. I remember thinking I want to do what they do. So I started [playing] basketball.”

Both Hector and McNeil shared hopes of playing overseas after college. “It would be a dream to play with him again, but it just depends where we’re able to land,” McNeil stated. Rinta talked very highly of Samaad saying that there’s more than what meets the eye. “Samaad is so much more than a basketball player from the standpoint that he has been doing so well academically, and has been a big part of the Student Athlete Council [SAC,] and he’s been a real strong mental health advocate for student-athletes.” 

Rinta also mentioned that “[McNeil and Hector] are the best players that I’ve been fortunate to coach, and having them be seniors the same year is incredible. They both carry such high energy and are vocal guys on the court. Which are key ingredients to being a great leader.” 

The CWU men’s team have been doing well overall with a 12-5 record and hopes of making it to the national tournament. 

“We are hosting the tournament this year, so I’m hoping that playing on home turf helps us out,” Rinta stated. The team has been finding their rhythm offensively; catch Hector and McNeil in action at the team’s next game at Seattle Pacific University on Feb. 1.

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