Student of the game, Seaforth pursues stardom
Sam Tapper – Sports Writer
If one were to ask Owls’ men’s basketball guard CJ Seaforth to describe himself, there are a multitude of things he would say. However, in the end there is one thing he would refer to: basketball.
“What makes me, me? Probably basketball,” Seaforth said. “Basketball takes a big role in my life, especially being a student athlete — you have to do the right thing — I try to do the right things, I try to be a better person every day, I pray a lot, I just have a lot of blessings.”
Seaforth, a junior, comes from right around the corner in Hamden, Conn., like his head coach, Scott Burrell. For Seaforth to describe his identity through basketball is appropriate, as he has been playing the game since the third grade.
“I remember I was in the third grade, but I was playing up with the fifth graders, AAU and stuff like that,” he said.
As a kid, Seaforth was a two-sport athlete. However, once he got older, he ultimately chose basketball, he says, to follow in the footsteps of his family, like his father who played collegiately at Virginia State.
“Before middle school I used to play football, so I had a choice between basketball or football,” said Seaforth. “But basketball was just always there — my dad played basketball, my brothers played basketball, so I was just seeing it growing up and I had fell in love with it.”
Seaforth began to take his game to the next level at Hamden High School. By his senior year, he averaged 21.5 points per game and became a 1,000-point scorer as well as an all-state selection and a Connecticut High School Coaches’ Association All-Star, where he earned MVP of that game.
By that point, Seaforth had multiple collegiate offers from multiple divisions, including Division I schools like Boston University, Iona, Fairfield, Robert Morris and hometown Quinnipiac.
Seaforth ultimately chose Iona, where he played in 19 games as a freshman. Though he only scored a total of 46 points on the year and logged around seven minutes per game, Seaforth picked up valuable experience like playing at Madison Square Garden against St. John’s and even in the NCAA Tournament, against Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke Blue Devils led by Marvin Bagley, now of the Sacramento Kings.
“It took me to where I am now. I realized [at Iona] that I have to work on certain aspects of my game,” Seaforth said of his old school. “But then March Madness and facing Duke, that was probably the best experience I had even though I didn’t get a chance to do what I wanted to do in the game, that was a great experience, shaking Coach K’s hand, seeing all those Duke guys, just watching the game like I was watching on TV but really, I’m on the sidelines.”
After his freshman year, Seaforth entered his name in the transfer wire. Knowing that he would have to redshirt if he transferred to another Division I school, he fielded offers from other schools, most of which were junior colleges. After talking with Burrell, Seaforth chose to come and play at home at Southern.
Very talented player,” Burrell said of Seaforth. “He can do a lot of things on the court; can score at all levels: inside, outside, mid-range. Confident player, his ability to be great is within him, he’s just got to keep growing and getting better.”
Last season, Seaforth averaged 14.6 points per game for the Owls and started in a backcourt with Isaiah McLeod and Kealen Ives, three players Burrell said can get 20 points on any given night. Seaforth was able to learn both how to better his game under those two and how to be a better leader, something he says he is always looking to do.
When he first arrived at Southern, Burrell said Seaforth could be the player of the year in the league multiple times “if he puts his mind to it,” something he still believes might happen — but not without hard work.
“You’ve got to be a tenacious person to be player of the year, at both ends,” Burrell said. “I think he’s learning, he’s not there yet but he’s learning. And when he does get there, he could be player of the year in the league, because there’s not many players as talented him in the league.”
This year, Seaforth is averaging 15.2 points per game, 15th in the NE-10, in addition to over two assists and three rebounds. He has also scored in double-figures all but three times. Now he plays in a backcourt with freshmen, Levar Allen and Lyron Bennett, which forces Seaforth to bring out all-facets of his game as a self-described combo guard, while also gaining leadership experience.
“He’s definitely more scoring-minded, but don’t get me wrong he has some great play-making ability,” said junior wing Ulyen Coleman, Seaforth’s former roommate and close friend and teammate. “We have great chemistry together. He knows how to find people in their spots but, when ‘C’ is hot, you let him be hot because he can knock four or five down in a row from deep. You’ve just got to let him rock sometimes.”
The Owls are currently 10-6 and 6-4 in the NE-10 with a conference that is wide open. As the stretch run of the year draws close, Seaforth’s goals are clear: win, both personally and as a team.
“I want to definitely try and get player of the year [in the NE-10],” Seaforth said. “I know it’s a lot of work, but I want to get player of the year. I want to just be a better person all the away around and I want to win, I want to win. Just need to stay locked in and keep working hard.”