TULSA, Okla. – Taking advantage of a year with the Oral Roberts men's basketball team already under his belt, Aidan Saunders has changed his focus for 2019-20 and ready to do whatever it takes to succeed during his senior season.
"Last year was not only my first year of DI basketball, but there was a big learning curve," Saunders said. "People respond to things differently, but it's all about how you do respond. I wouldn't say my junior year was my best year on or off the court. Once I recognized that, I wanted to focus on what I could do better. Ever since last season ended, I had time to reflect on everything positive and negative that I could transform into my senior year where I could prosper."
The process of looking inward is a challenge for any player at any level, but Saunders took that message to heart and knows the power of working together as a team to reach new heights.
"Getting out of myself and actually realizing what the team needs was tough. I can think about myself and what I need to do, but in the end it's not going to help the team. When I reflected and thought about what all the coaches asked me to do in order to help the team, it just made sense. I have to lock in on taking care of the ball and be that defender the coaches trust me to be for the team. That self-reflection and actually coming to that realization was the hardest part, but once I figured it out, it made this offseason that much better."
That selfless attitude has helped Saunders be a better teammate as his focus has turned to providing any type of support necessary, whether on the offensive or defensive end.
"On this year's team, my role is to do anything that is going to help us win. I don't care if it's scoring or defense, I want my trademark for this team to last on defense first. I want to have a defensive mentality. If it's making plays, handling the ball, making shots at the right time; whatever it is that needs to be done, I'm on board."
Saunders see the team culture starting to show through heading into a season with eight returning letter winners and depth at every position on the court. The veteran squad has pushed expectations to a new level with national news outlets picking the Golden Eagles as high as second in Summit League preseason polls.
"One thing that I like is the start of our group chemistry. We have almost everybody returning, so I like the chemistry that we had last year and now we're able to keep that going this year. I feel like that's how our culture starts and I am happy to be a part of it," Saunders added.
That chemistry will be on display during ORU's 29-game schedule in 2019-20 starting Nov. 6 and Saunders wants fans to get a chance to see something special on the court.
"For the fans coming to watch, they will see me as somebody that is relentless. When I am on the court, they know there is a spark coming. If it's on defense, it might be getting in the passing lane and create a couple steals or create some opportunities on offense getting my teammates involved. Just know that when I am on the court, good things are bound to happen and that's all I want."
Saunders knows his collegiate basketball career with the Golden Eagles is coming down the home stretch and he doesn't want to waste a single moment of that time.
"I am looking forward to each and every opportunity to touch the court and taking full advantage of it. I'm excited to get better and build something that I can always remember for my senior year," Saunders concluded.
For the latest information on ORU Men's Basketball, follow the Golden Eagles on Twitter and Instagram, or go to www.ORUAthletics.com. Fans also can receive updates on the team by downloading two mobile apps, ORU Golden Eagles Live and ORU Front Row, available on the App Store and Google Play.