(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
For many athletes, the college recruitment process is a strenuous and lengthy string of events filled with the occasional change of mind in the quest to find the best place to play over the course of four years.
Arizona State freshman forward Tyler Busch is no exception to this rule. His journey eventually led him to the Sun Devils, but not before he committed to Ohio State, the team ASU just so happens to be facing off against this weekend.
Busch had originally decided to play in Columbus when he was only 17 years old and in a junior hockey league. After a few visits, he saw it as a good fit and decided to commit there.
However, things quickly started to happen with the program that made Busch reconsider his decision.
“Over time so much changed with their team and me as a player,” he said in a telephone interview with Cronkite Sports. “It came to the point where I didn’t see it being the best fit anymore so I had to make the decision to reopen my recruitment.
“Not to get into too many details, but there were guys brought in and I didn’t think that I was in a situation where I would get an opportunity right off the bat and that’s what I was looking for.”
Luckily for Busch, Greg Powers and ASU came along to save the day. The Sun Devils’ pitch to him was something that he simply could not pass up.
“There were other schools, but with what Powers said was going on here and what we are trying to do with the program it was an easy decision,” he said. “I’m a fan of what we are doing here and starting the tradition and starting this program off the right way. It’s tough here and we have a tough schedule and we’ve had a few struggles, but it’s a process and in the future it’s going to pay off and I’m just glad I can be a part of it at this point.”
The idea of starting something essentially from scratch with a new program isn’t for everyone, but it was the big selling point that appealed to Busch, and it was an opportunity that he truly could not get anywhere else.
So far, it looks like Busch and the Sun Devils are a match made in heaven. Not only has he received an opportunity to play right away, but he has also often been featured on one of the first two lines.
The uptick in playing time has benefitted Busch in many ways. He is tied for fourth on the team in points (13) and is one of seven players who has played in all 24 games.
Despite the fact that OSU is a top-10 team and Busch would have had the opportunity to win quicker, he likely would not have received anywhere near the same amount of playing time, at least during his freshman year.
Although he has a unique past history with the Buckeyes, Busch doesn’t think there will be much of an added significance to this weekend’s games.
“Without playing there, without going to school there, it doesn’t mean too much,” he said. “I’m going to play the same way and have the same approach.”
Instead he sees a bigger opportunity for his team. Even getting away with one win in the two games would be big for ASU in its fifth matchup of the season against a top ten team.
“I think it’s more important to have a good weekend,” Busch said. “We just finished a tough series against Denver so I think it’s more important that we get back on track against Ohio State and move forward as a team.”
With the arduous recruiting process firmly in his rearview mirror, Busch is content with the decision and is more focused on his future rather than thinking about what could have been with OSU.
“Looking back at it I don’t really have any regrets,” he said. “I don’t really think about ‘what if.’ I’m just trying to take it one day at a time and work towards getting better as a better program here.”