By Andrew Preston
Byron Sanford left high school thinking his basketball career was over.
Next month, he will graduate from Trevecca with the following accolades as a three-year starter for the Trojans: G-MAC Conference Player of the Year 2016, First Trevecca Division II player to reach 1,000 career points and Division II- 2016 Honorable Mention All-American.
Sanford was the first Trevecca athlete to score 1,000 career points since the school has competed in Division-II. Sanford is the 40th Trevecca athlete to reach the 1,000 career point’s pinnacle for the school.
“The night I scored my 1,000th point against St. Joe’s was really special,” said Sanford.
This year Sanford was third in scoring in the G-MAC at 18.3 points per game. He was third in rebounds at 7.5 a game. He placed second in assists at 4.3 per game. He was third in steals per game with 1.5. He played the most minutes in G-MAC, but averaged fourth most due to playing more games than the top three at 33.9 per game.
Sanford led Trevecca in all of these statistical categories.
He didn’t think any of this was possible when he graduated from high school.
Sanford played basketball at Eastern High School in Louisville where he played alongside lifelong friends and current Trevecca teammates Tyrell Corlew and Percy Blade.
Sanford says he put in a good word for his buddies to come play at Trevecca, but according to Head Coach Sam Harris, “It wasn’t until really deep in the recruiting process that I even knew Tyrell and eventually Percy had played with Byron.”
A lot of Sanford’s high school teammates were getting Division-I scholarships for basketball, none of which Sanford received himself.
“I had the opportunity to play but it was kind of like some smaller schools in smaller towns, and I didn’t really want to do that, I didn’t think that was for me so I took the Kentucky route,” said Sanford.
After graduating high school Sanford enrolled at the University of Kentucky for two years.
“I kind of wanted to get away from home and they offered money, scholarships and stuff so I took that route,” said Sanford.
Coach Harris reached out to Sanford at Kentucky and brought him in to Trevecca and began Sanford’s historic run as a member of the purple and white.
“My first game ever was really special, it was my first time experiencing a college game, and that’s something I’ll never forget,” said Sanford.
That game was the 2013 Homecoming game at Trojan Fieldhouse; Trevecca played Tennessee Wesleyan. The Trojans won 75-69. Sanford scored 13 points.
Since playing in his first game at Trevecca, Sanford has improved in many ways, said Harris.
“He’s had the type of senior year that you want all your seniors to have. What I mean is that Byron came in at one level and has gotten better every year since he’s been here,” he said.
Work ethic has played a big role in his success.
“I try to never be outworked. I try to be the hardest working player in the gym,” said Sanford.
Prior to the beginning of the 2016 season, Sanford was in the gym for 30 straight nights working on his game. He did general workouts, practiced free throws and shooting- a lot of times by himself.
“There was a few times I’d be in there so late that security would have to kick me out,” said Sanford.
For Sanford, family has always been there to support him. His father would come to home games whenever he could and his brother lives in Nashville.
“My brother was at every game this year. I always tell people he’s my biggest fan. When I saw him walk in, I always get that extra boost of confidence,” said Sanford.
One game this season a good number of Sanford’s family came to watch him play.
At Trevecca Sanford has not only played basketball, but grown in his spiritual life as well.
“Being a collegiate athlete has really strengthened my faith. Just having faith and trusting that everything was going to be alright, that it’s not in my control, but His. My faith in God has carried me and really blessed me and set me up to keep my career alive and play at the pro level,” said Sanford.
During his career Sanford has experienced several special team moments, including road trips and being doused by a Gatorade bucket after scoring his 1,000th point.
“I think we were coming back from Cedarville and we started a snowball fight outside the place. It was the girls vs the boys and it was really fun,” said Sanford.
Sanford had no comment on who won the fight.
“Tough. Driven. Warrior. Those are three words that I would use to describe Byron as, just from talking with him and watching him play,” said Mark Elliott, head athletic director.
Sanford is on pace to graduate in May with a degree in Exercise Science. Sanford plans to sign with an agent and potentially sign a contract with a European team.
“Overseas is probably the route I’m going to go. I am going to try and crawl my way up and make the D-League (Developmental League), and eventually the NBA (National Basketball Association) I never put a limit on what I can do to try and reach those goals of mine,” said Sanford.
Sanford’s career at Trevecca is one that has influenced several of his teammates, coaches, and many that attend the games. Sanford is a fighter, dedicated to his job, said Harris.
“Any time there was a loose ball or a big rebound and he was going after it, regardless of how big our opponent was, I always felt like he would come up with it,” said Harris.
“I just want to have a lot more Byron’s,” said Elliott.
Byron’s Pregame Routine
- Shower before every game
- Wears two socks on his right foot and one on his left
- Eats gyros
- Listens to gospel music
- Fist pump and finger point upward to God before & after every game
Favorite movie= “Love and Basketball”
Favorite song= Gospel music
Favorite food= Gyros
Favorite basketball player= Dwayne Wade
Favorite non basketball athlete= Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Favorite college team= Louisville
Sanford’s Individual Stats