Trey Burke Was “Very Impressed” With Brice Sensabaugh After Stellar Kingdom League Performance, Says Ohio State “Has A Gem” in the Freshman

By Griffin Strom on July 11, 2022 at 10:10 am
Brice Sensabaugh
Instagram/@babysensa, Joe Gemma

Trey Burke, Andre Wesson, Felix Okpara and Kalen Etzler all participated in the same Kingdom League game at Ohio Dominican University on July 3. None of them was the best player on the court in that contest.

Anyone watching knew full well that distinction belonged to Brice Sensabaugh, who shined brightest even while matching up against multiple professional basketball players and former Big Ten standouts. Don’t believe me? Just ask Burke, a nine-year NBA veteran and former college basketball player of the year at Michigan who was nothing short of wowed by Sensabaugh’s 51-point explosion.

Burke wasn’t hyperaware of this past year’s Mr. Florida Basketball entering the day, but he sure was afterward. Burke was so impressed by Sensabaugh’s efforts that he shared a moment with him following the game to give him some extra words of encouragement.

“Honestly before the game, I haven’t really followed college basketball, so I was hearing about him but I hadn’t seen him play. But I’m impressed, very impressed,” Burke said. “The kid’s not scared, very competitive, didn’t back down from a challenge, very athletic. I like his game, I think the sky’s the limit for him. I told him after the game, ‘What I saw tonight, I want to see that this year.’ So I’m expecting big things from him.”

Burke knows a thing or two about making an impact right away as a freshman at the highest level of college basketball. The top-100 prospect in the class of 2011 started all but two games for Michigan in his first season and finished the year with averages of 14.8 points and 4.6 assists per game.

In his sophomore campaign, Burke became a consensus first-team All-American and the Big Ten Player of the Year, leading the Wolverines all the way to the national championship game in the NCAA Tournament before coming up short.

Burke has seen firsthand the attitude required to make a difference early on in one’s college career, and he said he saw Sensabaugh exhibit several of those same traits in the Kingdom League contest.

“I think (it takes) a high sense of self-confidence. Guys that come in right away and produce at a high level, they know who they are. Nobody has to tell them who they are, they just know who they are,” Burke said. “It doesn’t take two or three missed shots to turn them off. Two or three missed shots might turn them off. Other guys might shy away from the challenge after that. But I seen a competitor in him tonight and I think Ohio State has a gem in him.”

Sensabaugh himself was rather nonchalant after his showstopping performance, which included a variety of long 3-point shots, highlight-reel dunks and athletic finishes off the dribble. His calm demeanor after the game seemed to suggest Sensabaugh wasn’t all that surprised by his exploits.

“It’s nothing really to it. I’m just coming out here to have fun, enjoy this city, meet new faces and stuff like that,” Sensabaugh said. “It’s cool to play basketball, I played against Kalen, with Felix, so a couple of my teammates. Bruce (Thornton) played before me. So really just coming out here and having fun is really what is. … It’s definitely cool. Like I said, learning new faces and stuff like that, getting the city behind me, preparing for the season, it’s all good. The fans have a lot to do with basketball, so really it’s just having fun.”

Given the hard work Sensabaugh and his Buckeye teammates have been putting in at the Schottenstein Center after beginning summer work last month, Sensabaugh said the opportunity to show out in a summer league setting is a nice change of pace.

“I’d like to mention, Ohio State, the team, the coaching staff, everybody in our little circle is super serious this year. Building off what we had last year, we’re super serious in the weight room and the practice gym and stuff like that,” Sensabaugh said. “Us being able to step outside like this and just have fun for a little bit is definitely good because like I mentioned, in the gym we’re super serious and we’re super locked in.”

Okpara, a fellow freshman on the Buckeye roster, only said Sensabaugh’s name when asked who has stood out most in Ohio State’s early summer practices. Sensabaugh, who is just the fourth-rated player in the Buckeyes’ stellar 2022 recruiting class (still No. 62 overall), said nothing about his experience in Columbus thus far has been a disappointment.

“It’s been really fun. Ohio State is my dream school, and coming here and actually experiencing it day by day, it’s nothing short of what I expected,” Sensabaugh said. “It’s been a great time, I’ve had a lot of fun. Continually growing, staying in the gym and getting advice every day; Coach Holtmann, Diebler, Coach Owens, it’s been a good time so far.”

In fact, Sensabaugh said much of what he showed in the Kingdom League game was due to the improvements he’s quickly made while practicing with the Buckeyes over the summer. Sensabaugh said it’s a “way higher pace than high school” and that it’s helped him to make strides in just a few weeks’ time.

The 6-foot-6, 240-pound forward who plays more like a combo guard has placed an emphasis on offensive versatility before his freshman season begins, and it appears to be paying off so far.

“That’s basically what I’ve been preparing for in the offseason. Heading to Columbus I wanted to make sure my offense stayed versatile and I can score in different ways,” Sensabaugh said. “So playing against great players like that, it’s just teaching me to stay in the gym more and more, perfecting my craft and things of that nature.”

The summer buzz Sensabaugh is generating suggests he may be able to compete for a starting job in the Buckeyes’ lineup come November. But Sensabaugh isn’t concerned about that at the moment. Instead, the promising talent just wants to work on his craft and let the chips fall where they may in terms of the role the Buckeye coaching staff envisions for him this season.

“I’m just gonna keep working on my game, keep building on what I have now and obviously Ohio State is bigger me and the end goal is bigger than me,” Sensabaugh said. “So whatever happens, happens.”

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