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

Freshman Standouts: Carrying the Torch for the Men’s Basketball Team

Jacob Thompson
Bradley Swillie driving to the basket.

Following a historical season of CWU men’s basketball winning the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) tournament, the Wildcats will be losing key seniors to graduation. The 2024-2025 season is not a wash for the Wildcats though, as throughout their championship run four freshmen made important contributions all starting in multiple games. Forward Maverick Sanders started in every game this season while guards Jordan Clark and Bradley Swillie started in over half of the games. Guard Cavin Holden started several games as well and was an efficient scorer off the bench. 

Sanders out of Spokane, Washington stands at 6 feet 6 inches and weighs in at 200 pounds giving him a great frame to contribute on the defensive end. Along with his defense, he averaged 8.0 points per game while shooting very efficiently with 56% of his shots dropping this year. He is also a capable rebounder as he was second on the team in rebounds per game with 4.1. Sanders showed off his scoring upside dropping a career high against Alaska Fairbanks University in a regular season matchup. Shooting 10-17 and 2-5 from three-point range, Sanders was able to put up a team-leading 26 points in that game to put the Wildcats out on top. 

“I feel like for a freshman I contributed a lot,” Sanders said. “Coming in I was able to help our team get stops at times, get boards and then go get buckets when we needed to.”

Maverick Sanders jumper. (Jacob Thompson)

Coming out of Seattle, Washington is Clark, weighing 190 pounds and standing at 6 feet 2 inches tall. He’s brought scoring to the team having had many games where he scored 15 or more points while averaging 7 points per game. In the GNAC semifinals vs. Montana State Billings University, Clark led the team in scoring with 18 points in one of the most important games of his career. 

“Obviously at the time it was the biggest game of the year and it was a great win,” Clark said. “I just wanted to help the team win and we really got it done. It was big for me because that game meant so much to the whole team.”

Jordan Clark three point shot. (Jacob Thompson)

Holden is also a 6 feet 2 inch tall guard but weighs in at 160 pounds and is out of Apple Valley, California. He has both passing and scoring abilities and has been known to go on hot streaks after coming off of the bench for CWU. He’s brought a lot of intensity to his game and is able to hype up the crowd with almost anything he does which led to big momentum swings this past season. He averaged 6.2 points per game and dropped a career-high of 25 off the bench vs Simon Fraser University where he shot 11-14.

“I came off the bench and I’d say I brought a lot of energy,” Holden said. “I think my teammates and coaches, they trusted me with the ball. I think I was good at creating for my teammates, getting them open shots and I have an open shot then I’ll shoot.”

Cavin Holden facilitating the offense.

Swillie was the third leading scorer on the team with 9.4 points per game coming out of Tacoma, Washington. He has brought height at the guard position standing at 6 feet 5 inches tall and 185 pounds. Swillie was a key part of why the Wildcats were able to make it to the GNAC championship. Following two missed free throws that would have sealed the game from Montana State Billings, the Wildcats were down by two with 14 seconds to go. Swillie grabbed the rebound and pushed it down the court where with five seconds he made the heads-up play to pass it out to senior forward Samaad Hector who hit the three-point shot with three seconds to go to ultimately advance CWU to the playoffs. 

Swillie gave his thought process through the play that saved CWU’s season. “I’ll be honest, as soon as he missed the second free throw everything just kind of stopped,” Swillie said. “So I had my man at the top so I’m like I’m gonna go get a layup and we will go to overtime. Then I see him gap and I hit Samaad and he shot it. Everything was still quiet and once he hit it, it was the first time I was able to hear the crowd again. It was just crazy. It was like something you see on TV. It’s a memory I won’t ever forget.”

CWU basketball has a lot of youth and young talent that they will be looking to develop going into next season as they will be searching for back-to-back GNAC championship wins. However, that is not all they are looking for. The freshmen felt they could’ve gone farther in the national tournament this past season. They look forward to competing for that title again next year, seeking a second ring for their sophomore season.

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