MORAGA, Calif. (KRON) – If you follow the Saint Mary’s College men’s basketball program, you have definitely witnessed your fair share of upsets.
If you follow the journey of their redshirt senior point guard Tommy Kuhse, that might surprise you too.
When Kuhse was a junior in high school he decided to pursue playing college basketball, but he had never played on a club basketball team.
Without many college offers, Kuhse accepted a walk-on spot at Saint Mary’s.
“I just fell in love with the place, the guys, the way they treated each other. You could tell there was a special culture here, and I really wanted to be apart of it,” said Kuhse.
Kuhse says when he arrived on campus, the Gaels program lived up to his expectations and more.
“The older guys in the program were great, I mean you never felt any selfishness from them. They were completely invested in the team and you were like ‘hey this is how it is.’ Everyone is all in together pushing in the same direction,” said Kuhse.
The only direction Kuhse was heading was up.
After hardly seeing the court his first two years, Kuhse’s number was called during his redshirt sophomore season.
“Coach luckily had enough faith in me to throw me in the starting lineup just to get a change, get some new blood in there, I don’t know to create a spark. And it worked out well,” said Kuhse.
The Gaels went on to upset Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference Championship before falling in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
His redshirt junior season which was cut short due to the pandemic, Kuhse played more minutes than any other DI basketball walk-on in the country.
“Definitely something I hadn’t thought about but definitely pretty special honor I think to have that title,” said Kuhse.
Something Kuhse had thought about was receiving a scholarship for his athletic efforts.
This summer, that thought became reality.
“Definitely the transition when the school year ended and all of a sudden we were talking about ‘okay now you’re on scholarship.’ It was definitely a surreal moment for me and special to see all my hard work pay off,” said Kuhse.
Just because Kuhse is now a full-ride scholarship player, doesn’t mean he’s taken his foot off the gas for a second.
He says this season he hopes to the lead the Gaels on a deep run into the NCAA tournament, but more importantly, leave a legacy that can inspire other walk-ons.
“Coach B always says ‘leave the program a better place than it was when you came in. So that’s kind of my goal as a senior,” said Kuhse.