His time with the Gaels was short, but Aaron Bright made a big impact as one of the most notable transfers to come into the WCC last season.
The graduations of James Walker III and top scorer Stephen Holt after the 2013-14 season left the Gaels in a dangerous position. Kerry Carter was the only returning guard with significant potential, but his specialty was scoring. It didn’t appear that there was a guard on the roster who could tie the team together through leadership and playmaking ability, which was concerning after so many years of great guards coming through the program and doing just that.
Bright filled that hole in a big way coming in from Stanford. He was an impact player for the Cardinal including leading them to the 2012 NIT Championship and being named MVP of the tournament. Bright was the ultimate point guard with fantastic court vision to set up teammates complemented by quality shooting when called upon to score. Despite appearing in only 105 games at Stanford, he left there in 1oth on the program’s all-time assists list.
He may have done even more at Stanford if it weren’t for his unfortunate injury. Bright suffered a shoulder injury early in the 2013-14 season and missed the rest of the year. Determined to not let it end his career, Bright finished the school year by graduating from Stanford. This allowed him to take advantage of the NCAA graduate transfer rule which made him immediately eligible to enroll as a graduate student at another school and be immediately eligible for his final collegiate season.
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No doubt that the rich history of guards at Saint Mary’s and the fact that there was no obvious candidate for point guard on the roster helped influence Bright to make the short trip from Palo Alto to Moraga. Bright immediately became a starter and brought some much needed presence to a team chock full of scoring options. Bright was like a kid in a candy store with the opportunity to dish out assists to Carter and star big man Brad Waldow among others. He would go on to appear in every game during the 2014-15 season, finishing 7th in the WCC in assists and 21st in scoring on his way to All-WCC Honorable Mention. The Gaels enjoyed a fast start to WCC play, but sputtered to the finish. Although they did reach the NIT where they fell in the 1st round at home.
While the season will be remembered as a disappointing one because it looked like the Gaels were on their way to the NCAA Tournament at the halfway point of the season, but either way Bright did everything the Gaels hoped he would do. He came in, tied the team together, and was an impact player in his one season in the WCC. The Gaels could have been better, but they wouldn’t have been nearly as good without Bright. Both he and the program can rest easy knowing bringing him in was the right move, and a big boost for a program trying to keep pace with BYU and Gonzaga.