Sebuharara goes from track and field cut to respected basketball leader
Through passion and relentlessness, senior guard Richie Sebuharara has settled into his role on the men's basketball team. Satsuki Aoi /// The Spectrum
Richie Sebuharara came to Buffalo expecting to run track and field and follow in his brother's footsteps, but his heart was on the basketball court. When he was cut from the track team, the one-time high school basketball standout started spending his time dominating competition in pick-up ball in Alumni Arena.
Then a friend of men's basketball head coach Reggie Witherspoon spotted Sebuharara and knew he had to tell Witherspoon of the undiscovered star. Ever since, Sebuharara's passion has been his reality.
Sebuharara, a business administration major, is one of two seniors on a Bulls (11-15, 6-6 Mid-American Conference) squad that has won three straight games.
"I always loved basketball, first and foremost," Sebuharara said. "I just love the game."
Look at a stat sheet and he isn't extremely prevalent (1.2 points in 8.6 minutes per game), but his teammates say the walk-on makes a colossal impact.
"Whenever I'm down or defensively I need to pick it up, I just look at Richie," said sophomore forward Xavier Ford. "He's here helping his team win. We love him."
The other senior on the team, guard Tony Watson, said Sebuharara has one of the best personalities on the team. He said Sebuharara can do impressions of his teammates that make Watson cry from laughing so hard.
"My stomach is all in knots from rolling on the floor laughing," Watson said.
Sebuharara may be a comedian off the court, but when he's on the court, the speedy lock-down defender is all business.
Sebuharara's brother, Loic, is five years older than Sebuharara. Loic was a member of the track and field team from 2005-09 and he advised his younger brother to give track a shot.
"I'm real close with my brother," Sebuharara said. "He's like my idol, so everything I did, he did. I was just like: he [ran track], so I'm going to try it. But I couldn't get away from basketball."
Witherspoon said he wasn't sure if Sebuharara would be interested in coming aboard because the Bulls did not have room for Sebuharara to dress for games his first year. They wondered if he would want to come to practice every day knowing he would not be able to participate in games.
However, Sebuharara agreed to the terms of what needed to be done to make the team - which, according to his brother, is not out of character.
"When Richie chooses to do something, he's all in. Whatever it takes for him to contribute," Loic said. "If his job is to get in for two minutes in the game and guard the best shooter and make sure he doesn't touch the ball, he will do everything in his power to make that happen. He's a very smart kid. He understands his role."
On Nov. 24, 2012, Richie scored his first career points in a win over Mansfield University. He finished with five points, and Loic was there to cheer for his little brother.
There was always competition among the siblings growing up in Vestal, N.Y. Whether it was the race to be the first one to the remote control to watch their favorite show or competing in checkers, the pair was always in a battle - even though Loic would win because he was older.
"We would go play basketball at that park," Loic said. "Any time I would be winning, because I was a lot older than him, he would get very frustrated, very hot-headed. He just couldn't control his temper. Every single time, I would continue to do whatever it was to frustrate him. If I scored going right, I would keep going right and I would tell him that he couldn't stop me going right, and he would get really angry."
Amidst the frustration, Loic was always there to support his younger brother - especially when he received the phone call from Sebuharara saying he was going to be a member of the basketball team.
"It's gratifying to me that he [was] able to do that, and however good it felt for me, multiply that by 15 for him because again when he has a goal, he works very hard toward it and he won't stop until he accomplishes it," Loic said.
Sebuharara's selflessness is a large part of what earns his peers' respect. Witherspoon plans to tell future players about Sebuharara's journey.
"It's really the essence of what we do: growth and development of the young men in our program," Witherspoon said. "We've seen that occur in his life. He demonstrates it in his play everyday. When Richie is playing well, he's not pressing. He's just thinking of how he can help contribute to the team and that's not an easy thing to do. It's the best thing to do."
Ask Sebuharara's teammates and they'll tell you selflessness and sense of humor are his two best personality traits. Sebuharara, Ford and sophomore forward Raphell Thomas-Edwards will argue about anything and everything. In order to discuss a topic, they must first call a 'roundtable' to analyze the situation.
"We were all watching TV yesterday and Raphell saw that some study showed if a person likes you, their pupils dilate or something," Ford said. "So we brought it up to Richie and we all had an argument for an hour and 20 minutes on pupils."
Sebuharara is active around campus, too. He is an RA in Greiner Hall and used to be one in Red Jacket Quadrangle.
Sebuharara made his first start for the Bulls on Dec. 28, 2012, against Notre Dame College (Ohio) - a game in which he recorded five points and six assists. He started the next three games, as well, and played a career-high 29 minutes in a narrow loss at Tulsa Jan. 2.
In addition to Sebuharara, the Bulls have had notable walk-ons in recent years like Byron Mulkey, Dave Barnett and John Boyer.
Sebuharara and his teammates will play host to the Manhattan Jaspers Saturday in the Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters game at Alumni Arena. Tip-off is slated for 2 p.m.
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