JACKSON TWP — It was during his freshman year that Easton Bazzoli decided to focus his athletic talents solely on basketball.
That proved to be a wise decision.
A starter for Seneca Valley’s boys team the last two seasons, the 6-foot-5 senior guard averaged 15 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game this winter, leading the Raiders to a 17-9 mark, tying the program record for victories in a single season.
Bazzoli was chosen as the Butler Eagle Boys Basketball Player of the Year, becoming the first Seneca Valley player to earn the award. He beat out Mars center Josh Goetz and A-C Valley forward Ryan Bartley.
“Easton became a complete basketball player this year, understanding what the team needed him to do at certain points in the game,” said Raiders’ coach Victor Giannotta. “Whether it was scoring, rebounding, defending, being more vocal, he was an excellent senior captain.”
Bazzoli tried his hand at several sports growing up, including football, baseball and soccer, along with basketball.
“It was after my freshman football season when I decided to stick to just basketball,” he said. “I liked playing in football games, but I hated the practices. I knew I was good at basketball and I loved going to basketball practice.”
Bazzoli scored 39 points in limited varsity action as a sophomore before breaking into SV’s starting lineup in 2011-12. He turned in a decent junior campaign, averaging nine points per contest.
But it was as a senior when he took his game to another level.
“I was able to do a lot more on the floor this year,” said Bazzoli. “My defense picked up. Playing man-to-man used to be a weakness of mine.
“As a junior, I wasn’t as physically strong and couldn’t get to the basket as much,” he added. “I floated around the 3-point line a lot more. But this year, I took the ball inside a lot and got to the free throw line more often.”
His ability from long range was still very evident this season, as he drained a team-leading 36 three-point goals, but he also earned 124 free throws and made nearly 72 percent (89) of them.
Bazzoli was Seneca’s leading scorer in 17 of 26 games this season, tallying a career-high of 22 points in a win over Knoch in December and again in a WPIAL playoff victory against Central Catholic.
His play caught the eye of several college coaches, including those at The Citadel, U.S. Naval Academy, West Liberty State and Seton Hill.
He made a verbal commitment to accept a full scholarship to Cedarville University, a Division II school in southwestern Ohio. He will sign a letter of intent next month.
“My goal is to play as a freshman and contribute to the team as much as I can,” said Bazzoli.
He will take with him great memories from his playing days with the Raiders.