Junior forward Bobby Ahearn has always been tough. His muscular 6-foot-6-inch frame lends itself well to boxing out opponents and tracking down rebounds. But this season, Ahearn has added scoring to his toolbox.
Looking to expand his game, Ahearn tirelessly practiced his shooting with his 15-year-old brother Dylan last summer. Ahearn’s effort have paid off — he has improved in nearly every statistical category.
After averaging 4.8 points last season, Ahearn has improved his scoring to 9.6 points per game. This season, he has shot an impressive 55 percent clip from the field and ranks third in the America East Conference (AE) in 3-point field goal percentage.
His performance isn’t the only thing that’s improved this season either — his confidence has too. Before this year, Ahearn never recorded a shot from beyond the arc. This season, he’s taken 55 so far, shooting 34.5 percent from beyond the arc.
“I only have two seasons left, and I just want to make the most of it,” Ahearn said. “I want to contribute to the team in the best way I can because I want to leave here with an [AE] Championship. That’s the end goal.”
Operating smoothly as a stretch four, Ahearn has become proficient at scoring from any level. He can finish layups at the rim and hit jump shots from beyond the arc. His versatility has eased the burden on his teammates, and he is a player that can be trusted with the ball. This development has stemmed from a change in the dynamic forward’s mindset.
“This year, I’m more aggressive,” Ahearn said. “In past years, I haven’t really scored a ton, but this year I stepped up in that area when there was a need.”
Last season, Ahearn served largely as a defensive specialist in BU head coach Tommy Dempsey’s lineup. He played few minutes and started only two games against conference opponents. He has started all but three conference games this season; he only sat the bench for a short period after suffering a broken nose.
As the nephew of former NBA player and coach Vinny Del Negro, Ahearn has basketball in his genes. In high school, he traveled to Los Angeles to practice at the Clippers’ facilities, where Del Negro was the head coach. His sister Maggie is a 6-foot-2-inch freshman forward on the Providence women’s basketball team.
Due to the amount of injuries that the Bearcats have faced this year, Ahearn’s improved skill set was put to the test. After the loss of redshirt sophomore guard J.C. Show, Ahearn has emerged as one of the team’s most reliable scoring options. As the season progressed, Ahearn has become more dominant, which he credits to his teammates and himself.
“I stepped up as much as I could, but other guys stepped up too,” Ahearn said. “Everybody gave it their all at each and every practice, trying to make us successful going into the playoffs.”