“When I get a block it gives me energy,” said junior forward Hasahn French, “hearing the crowd go oo ah”…“it feels like a dunk.”
Ian Vouyoukas 07’ holds the all time block record at 135. French, who started the 2019-2020 campaign with 125 career blocks, has already surpassed it to become the best Billiken blocker in history.
A known name among Billiken basketball fans since his arrival in 2017, French has become a critical piece for Team Blue. As a junior, his new role is to bring together other pieces and to be a leader on and off the court. “I feel like we had great leaders before us,” said French talking about Billiken alumni Javon Bess, Davell Roby and Aaron Hines, “seeing the things that they did and their work ethic and what they put in really helped us. That’s what we’re trying to give to the new guys this year.”
French is not only a defensive presence, but also an all around monster to play against, saying he looks to impose his will on the court. Head coach Travis Ford looks for that from French, telling him he expects “20 and 12”, points and rebounds—a goal French says is realistic for him.
Pushing French throughout his robust career at SLU has been junior guard Jordan Goodwin. The pair were looking at SLU and played each other in a high school game. After the game French told Goodwin about Saint Louis saying, “if you go I’ll go.” The duo are now prominent Billikens and Goodwin’s play pushes French to be even better.
It is not just Goodwin and French that make Team Blue such a formidable force. French credits all his teammates. “Each guy brings something to the team, and if we all play to our strengths each night, we’ll be unstoppable,” French said.
The phrase Team Blue always comes up when talking about Billiken basketball, but what makes Team Blue? French said Team Blue is a culture that Ford started and really focused on his freshman year. Team Blue is about being a brotherhood and trusting in the shared vision for the program. “The basketball is going to stop bouncing one day,” said French, “at the end of the day the people you are with … you’re going to have that relationship forever.”
French is looking to be a top player this year. He said one of his goals is to be Atlantic 10 MVP, but also to be a top player in the country. Some big games against Seton Hall and Boston College have given French and the Billikens the opportunity to show they can compete on a national level. With a team like Kansas State in the mix as well, a strong showing could prove French can meet his goals. “This year I feel like a totally different player. I feel like my mindset out there is to just be the best at all times,” French said.
With leaders like French at the helm, the Billikens look to build on last year’s success where they won the A-10 Championship and made it to the NCAA Tournament. “It was just a taste,” French said with a smirk, “some people are at home watching the games. I don’t want to be that team.”