By Alex Napoles
Photo by Dave Argyle (DBA Photography)
Imagine walking into a gymnasium, where everyone is wearing green, white and gold. Imagine all those people cheering and screaming so enthusiastically, the bleachers packed, with the words “Let’s go Cougars,” bouncing off the brick walls.
That’s exactly how the thriving atmosphere was Friday, Jan. 23 inside the Kearns High School gym as the Kearns Cougars took on the Highland Rams. The Cougars took an 86-65 victory over the Rams, with team captain Bushmen Ebet getting 19 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists and 11 steals that night.
Ebet is one of the Cougars most vital players. Born on June 9, 1997 in Ethiopia, the 17-year-old admits that what happens now on the basketball court all started with his dad.
“Ever since I was little, basketball wasn’t my thing,” Ebet said. “I would usually play football or soccer. After my dad started telling me to watch NBA. I started working on my handles and I just started loving basketball. He’s the one that introduced me to basketball. He’s always pushing me to do better.”
Even after Ebet’s family migrated to Dallas, Texas, he continued to play football. It wasn’t until the fifth grade that he started his basketball career.
After a move from Dallas to Kearns, Ebet began his Kearns basketball career in 8th grade. He began to shine for the varsity Cougars during his sophomore season, averaging 11 points per game. That year also brought Ebet’s best memory with the Kearns basketball team, his first highlight.
“We played against Davis, it was my first dunk,” Ebet said.
A year later during his junior year, Bushmen averaged 13 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, and 3 steals per game. The improvement has continued into and during his senior year, when he is averaging 18 points per game. Now, he has thoughts about where he can take the game from here.
“If I can make it to college, I’ll play college ball, and from there, if I can make it to the big leagues then I’ll do it,” Ebet said. “I just have to keep working for it. That’s my plan, it’s to make it to NBA.”
Bushmen is also studying business and he has long-term aspirations in that arena as well.
“I’m learning business, so I’m going to start to learn how to control my own business, or make my own business and start from there,” Ebet said.
Dan Cosby, coach of the Kearns High basketball team, says that he’ll miss Ebet after graduation. He particularly appreciates Ebet’s willingness to work on and improve his skills.
“As a player, he’s grown by his ability in learning the game,” Ebet said. “He’s always been coachable. Even as a student or as a person, if you tell him something, he’ll try to apply it.
“He’s a natural leader. He only knows one speed, and that’s go fast and hard all the time. He’s always getting better. As far as the team, he’s not a selfish player. For my seven years here, he’s one of the guys I’m going to miss most.”
That lack of selfishness comes from the fact that Ebet appreciates the chance to play the game with good friends.
“I’ve been here since eighth grade, so it means everything,” Ebet said. “Everyone that’s on the team, if they’re new or not, they are all family. We all work together, so it just all means family.”
Now that he has found the game and focused his energy on what he can do on the hardwood, Ebet is grateful for the escape basketball can be for him.
“Basketball is life. It gets you out of everything,” Ebet said. “When you want to go do something, basketball is always going to be fun.”