Men’s basketball player David Viti, a versatile freshman forward and guard from Buford, Georgia, was redshirted in the beginning of the season, but that hasn’t stopped him from putting forth maximum effort for the Eagles.
Viti began playing basketball when he was as young as five years old when his father signed him up for rec league and has stuck to the sport since. He decided he wanted to play at the next level once he was a sophomore in high school when he had to make the decision between playing lacrosse and basketball.
“I decided to quit lacrosse, and I was definitely better at lacrosse than basketball,” Viti said. “I just enjoyed basketball more.”
From there Georgia Southern and Head Coach Mark Byington found Viti through an All-star program the player was involved in, and after seeing the type of player Viti was GS became set on recruiting him.
“We went and saw him and he’s an elite three-point shooter,” Byington said. “We were losing Jake Allsmiller from last year who was a really good one and we always like to have shooters and he does that skill very well.”
Once Viti became an Eagle a tough decision came to the table, and the freshman was redshirted before the conference season began. While being redshirted can sometimes be looked at as a negative thing, Byington views it more as an opportunity for the freshman.
“He’s a tremendous shooter but it’s a year he can really get better on his defense, his ball handling, his passing and understanding the speed of the game,” Byington said. “For a lot of freshmen the game goes really fast and it’s been a benefit for guys on our team to be redshirted. It gives them a chance to work on some things to kinda catch up and be more ready to play when their time comes.”
Redshirting is nothing new for GS as guard Quan Jackson was redshirted his freshman year. Jackson, a now redshirt-sophomore, is a team leader for the Eagles as he’s a regular starter who finds himself putting up just over 15 points per game.
As anyone who would be told they wouldn't see the court until next season, Viti found himself initially disappointed but knew it was the best decision for him as a player.
“At the beginning of the year when we weren’t really playing games it was hard because you’re just practicing with no pay off at all, but you know that when you get out there next year the whole redshirt thing is supposed to make you better,” Viti said. “You work every single day. You work harder and harder because you can't wait for the next time you can play. Just looking ahead and knowing I’m going to be on the floor next year makes me want to work even harder.”
While being redshirted can be a downer, Viti doesn’t let that diminish his energy levels for practice or games as he can be seen as a huge positive influence for other players.
“His role right now is not ever going to be on the court during games,” Byington said. “But he can make an impact by talking to guys on the bench and being positive with them, encouraging with them and so he does a great job of having a lot of energy on the bench.”
The wait that was this season is soon coming to a close for Viti as the Eagles only have three regular-season games left to play as they take on Little Rock Thursday at Hanner Fieldhouse.
Kaitlin Sells, The George-Anne Sports Editor, email@example.com