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Austin McBroom gives Eastern unexpected scoring surge

Eastern Washington guard Austin McBroom, hitting his foul shots against Northern Colorado last Saturday, has turned into a scoring machine for the Eagles. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Eastern Washington guard Austin McBroom, hitting his foul shots against Northern Colorado last Saturday, has turned into a scoring machine for the Eagles. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Practice was winding down Tuesday afternoon at Reese Court as Eastern Washington coach Jim Hayford called out his starting point guard.

Before the season began, Austin McBroom had described himself as a “pass-first” point guard, a floor general who simply wants to “help my players make plays.”

Three months later, the graduate transfer from Saint Louis is coming off the biggest two-game scoring performance in EWU history – 72 points that helped the Eagles beat North Dakota and Northern Colorado.

McBroom also had 11 assists, which meant he figured in 98 of the Eagles’ 192 points.

That was enough to earn McBroom a pair of big awards: Big Sky Conference Player of the Week and Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week.

It also earned him some ribbing from Hayford. “You’re an attacking point guard,” he yelled as McBroom was taking free throws. “You’re a triple threat, don’t forget that.”

Even more remarkable, McBroom had his big week while enduring a sore leg muscle; he practiced just once last week.

“I guess we’ll only let him practice one day the rest of the year because with a little rest, he’s good for averaging 36 per game,” Hayford quipped after the win over Northern Colorado.

Hayford is laughing now, but faced an uncertain offseason following the Eagles’ NCAA Tournament appearance. After the departure of national scoring leader Tyler Harvey and point guard Drew Brandon, the Eagles’ immediate need was experience in the backcourt.

“Getting Austin was priority number one,” said Hayford, who also got forward Julian Harrell after Ognjen Miljkovic left the program.

McBroom is on pace for the fifth-best single-season scoring average in school history. Rodney Stuckey averaged 24.6 as a sophomore in 2006-07 and 24.2 as a freshman, while Harvey averaged 23.1 last season as a junior and 21.8 as a sophomore.

Want more comparisons? Harvey led NCAA Division I in scoring and 3-pointers per game (4.00) a year ago, and McBroom isn’t too far behind those marks. He leads the Big Sky and ranks 14th in the nation, and his average of 3.71 treys per game are third nationally and first in the league.

Said McBroom: “My confidence is really high right now, especially playing for a coach like Hayford. And the players are doing a great job looking for me.”

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