His “first love” was baseball. His last name is Bonds. Can you guess the ending?
No, he doesn’t finish his career with 762 home runs and a reputation as a thundering figure with a larger than life ego. He doesn’t even make it to MLB.
He did start with baseball, though. At one point, Braxton Bonds, Houston Baptist’s starting point guard, was a two-year old slugger in the batting cages. But he quit baseball in seventh grade to pursue basketball which he believed was more suitable for his energetic mentality.
“The comparisons between me and my uncle at every tournament we went to got in the way,” Braxton Bonds said.
There’s no doubt that some of his uncle’s character traits carried through.
“My dad [Bobby Bonds Jr.] used to always say my Uncle Barry was one of the hardest workers he knows, and they said I definitely got that from him,” Bonds said.
As a sophomore, Bonds averaged a balanced 9.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game for the Huskies, making him the second leading scorer returning this season.
His breakout game was against Incarnate Word where he poured in 22 points on 8-12 shooting and had seven rebounds. Then he led the Huskies to eight straight wins.
But don’t be fooled. The younger Bonds has had an uphill battle to get to where he is today. Houston Baptist is Bonds’ fourth school in two years after stints at Liberty University, Tennessee and Columbia State (a junior college). Bonds hadn’t even played in a D-1 game until last year.
“At Liberty, it wasn’t the right fit and there were some personal, some family things I needed to come home to. At Tennessee, it was Coach Tyndall getting fired […] I felt if I went somewhere where I’d play more, that would help me in the long run,” Bonds said about leaving each school.
The setbacks getting to D-1 ball seem to be grounding for Bonds. He speaks with a sweet Southern drawl and addresses each of my questions with “ma’am,” and the National Association of Basketball Coaches just awarded Bonds for his academic excellence.
“If my team wins and I don’t meet any of my personal goals, my season was a success,” Bonds said.
Contrast this with Barry Bonds’ self-given nickname of “Mr. July”, which references his postseason droughts, and you have two very different figures.
Well, how did he get this way? Bonds repeatedly calls out his faith as being a grounding force as well as someone else who never quite made it to the MLB.
“My dad was my uncle’s biggest fan,” Bonds said. “My dad was never jealous of my uncle getting the spotlight.”
Braxton too had to deal with not getting the most playing time or even playing at all for over a year. Now, he needs to step up for HBU.
The team is “night and day” different compared to their roster last year, according to Bonds. HBU is left without their leading scorer, Colter Lasher, and leading rebounder, Reveal Chukwujekwu from last year, which has created an opportunity for Bonds.
“I’ve always been known as a non-shooter and I plan to change that this year,” Bonds said.
Bonds compared HBU’s team mentality next year to the way he played at his high school Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville.
“We got up and down the court,” Bonds said. “We ran a lot.”
HBU is looking to up the ante from their team performance last year after finishing in a three-way tie for second place in the Southland Conference. The Huskies will face early season tests in the 2K Classic against Providence, Belmont and Virginia Tech before getting to face another powerhouse in Michigan State. However, one game stands out most to Bonds: their matchup against Stephen F. Austin.
“I didn’t buy into the rivalry because I was new last year ,but I didn’t really like playing them last year,” Bonds said. “I feel like we should’ve won last year.”
It won’t take 762 home runs, but it will take full-court leadership and dedication for Bonds to take the Huskies to the NCAAM Tournament. No DH-ing allowed.