Blocking sensation

Philicia Douglas

FAU’s men’s basketball team drew lots of attention and excitement last season with just a 14-16 record, and midway through this season the team has already matched that win total.

With a 14-6 record, and a first-ever six game winning streak, the Owls are on a roll. Part of the reason for that is because of the performances put forth by senior forward/center Brett Royster.

Each year during his basketball career at FAU, Royster has shown improvement on the court. In his freshman year, he averaged 15 minutes per game, which he has now doubled to almost 30 minutes.

In 2009, he was ranked 12th in the nation for defensive players in the NCAA, and in 2010 he was named the Sun Belt Conference defensive player of the year. This year has seen him break the Sun Belt Conference blocking record.

Having recorded 73 blocks in his sophomore year and 90 blocks his junior year, Royster once again leads the Owls with 68 blocks this season, way ahead of second place Kore White who has 26. Royster has not only become one of the FAU captains, but a blocking sensation.

On Jan. 11, FAU played in a home game against Manhattan College. With 8 rebounds and 4 blocks in that game, Royster’s overall amount of blocks hit 269, giving him the all-time Sun Belt Conference record. The previous record for blocks was 267, held by UAB’s Alan Ogg.

The atmosphere at the Burrow was filled with excitement, as students clapped and hooted when the arena announcer declared Royster’s record-breaking accomplishment. Yet this is not the only accomplishment Royster is working towards.

“I want to win a championship,” said Royster. “That is the only way I see the team as truly being successful.”

Head coach Mike Jarvis has watched Royster play for three seasons now, but he wishes he could have coached him during his freshman year as well.

Although Jarvis has coached many great athletes, such as NBA Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing, he holds Royster as the most talented center he’s had.

“I have watched him mature and grow to become a man on the court and he is certainly the most gifted center that I have coached,” said Jarvis. “At 6’8″, he is the purest shot blocker.”

The Arlington, Texas native never thought about getting serious with basketball until high school. Growing up, he was more interested in technology and his friends considered him to be obsessed with watching movies. Yet his motivations changed during his junior year of high school when his mom saw his first big win. In that moment he realized that basketball could be his ticket to success.

Coming out of high school, Royster got offers from universities all over the country, including Texas A&M, University of Arkansas, and the University of North Texas, but he saw FAU as the place where he could dedicate his talents to improve both the program and himself.

“I saw coming to FAU as a situation where I could play and contribute right away,” said Royster, who is averaging 29.9 minutes per game and a .573 shooting percentage (both second bests on the team) this season. “Now that I am here my goal has changed a bit. It is not to just contribute, but to also become a leader.”

Although this is Royster’s last season playing for FAU, he hopes to play professionally, whether it means playing in America or going overseas. But for now, Royster will continue to try and dominate the courts with his shot blocking ability in the hopes of getting the Owls to the Sun Belt Championship game.