The Muhlenberg Mules men’s basketball player, Brandon LaRose, was born and raised in Williamsburg, Virginia, where he was taught at a young age to play and love the game of basketball. His father played basketball all four years he attended college, inspiring LaRose to do the same. The now starting guard for Muhlenberg began playing basketball seventeen years ago at the age of five.
LaRose’s self-motivation to become a college basketball player led him to a small school in Virginia named Hampden-Sydney in hopes to join a successful team. But once his first semester came to an end, he realized that the school just wasn’t the right fit. “When I decided to commit to Hampden-Sydney, I knew I was taking a hit. I was doing it more for the chance to play basketball in college rather then wanting to go there for academics and a college experience.” After entering the off-season with the team, he recognized that it was not the wisest decision to choose a school just based on athletics.
Unfortunately, the Hampden-Sydney team did not live up to LaRose’s expectations, thus the idea of transferring was a very viable option. LaRose sought a school where he could achieve both academic and athletic success, and in his search, he found Muhlenberg College. After transferring to Muhlenberg he was ready to start basketball right away.
Once LaRose transferred, he knew he was a part of the Mules’ community form the beginning. He immediately declared as a business major with a concentration in marketing and a minor in Spanish. In doing so, he felt like he made a commitment and was here to stay. LaRose is currently in the process of applying to law school in hopes to attend university in the fall.
Early in the 2016/17 season, LaRose was named one of the team’s captains. LaRose knew he needed to step up as a leader for the team off and on the court, and he is honored to get the chance to do so. He has not only proved this through his vocal and upbeat tone on the court, but he also shows it on the scoreboard.
He currently leads the team with the greatest amount of points, recorded at 225. He has appeared and started in all 18 games for the Mules so far this season. LaRose also leads the team with ten double-figure scoring games, four games with 20 plus point scored, and he is a team leader with an average of 12.5 points per game.
“On the court, this year has been the best team dynamic by far compared to the previous years. We’re able to pick one another up and keep positive and unselfish attitudes, instead of being individual players. Our team looks to just be successful and win.”
Reflecting on his successes, LaRose has remained humble and would rather focus on his team, “I don’t really think about it that much, like if you [look] at my stats from different games I’ll get four points or I’ll get 35 points. I don’t really think about points during the game, all I think about is how I can help my team win.” The senior captain explains he determines his actions depending on the game situation. For example, if the Mules are leading by a large margin, he doesn’t feel the need to force anything. However, if the score is close, he’ll step up his game and take more risks in order for the team to take control again. LaRose does not play a selfish game. He plays with only his team on his mind.
In a game with four other teammates on the court, being a team player is key. Having a tight knit team, LaRose claimed, was highly necessary to achieve success, “If you have problems off the court, then it’ll eventually show up on the court, whether its intended or not.” He knows that a strong team dynamic will result in a strong record, “On the court, this year has been the best team dynamic by far compared to the previous years. We’re able to pick one another up and keep positive and unselfish attitudes, instead of being individual players. Our team looks to just be successful and win.”
The team off the court is just as tight-knit as they are on the court. The Mules from LaRose page 12 Photo courtesy of Muhlenberg Athletics Now sophomore Chris Grillo had a fantastic first year with the Mules and in the Centennisla Conference. had the chance to do some serious team bonding over winter break, during which the teammates were only a few of the people actually on campus during that time. “We love being with each other and just hanging out in our free time together,” says LaRose. This tight bond with each other truly portrays itself on the court.
Once the Mules start to get on a roll and gain momentum they are unstoppable. The team knows each other’s strengths and what they need at the time of each play. Since the Mules have won three games in a row, they are starting to get their momentum back. “We need to get to ten wins in the conference and were hoping to make the playoffs,” said LaRose.
He believes that the team has the chance to make the playoffs if they finish out the rest of the season with some wins. Most of the Centennial Conference teams have very similar talent, so it just depends on which team will play the best game in the remaining regular season. But as another basketball season comes to an end, it must be a strange experience for LaRose to only have six games left in his basketball career. “I’m definitely scared that my 17 year career in basketball is almost coming to a close, it’s a surreal feeling having something I love come to an end in only two weeks.”
The Muhlenberg Mules need at least four more wins in their last five regular season games, which are all Centennial Conference matchups, to reach ten conference wins. If the team can achieve that goal, then they have a good chance of making the Centennial Conference Playoffs.
Jordy Bonvini contributed to reporting on this story.