Samford basketball coach Bucky McMillan uses statistics to measure Bubba Parham’s contribution to the team in his only season in the Bulldogs program. However, he doesn’t use the stats to prove a point in the way that you might think.
“We don’t talk about Bubba enough,” McMillan said. “This is a guy who scores 22 points a game, in our league, as a sophomore. Goes to Georgia Tech, wins the league at Georgia Tech as a starter. Comes here and he could score 20 points. But he scores 10 because that’s what it takes for our team to win. That’s why we win is guys like him.”
Doing what it takes to make his team better is what the Snellville, Georgia native has done since enrolling at VMI in 2017. The Keydets needed him to be a scorer, so that’s what he did. In 62 games, spanning two seasons, Parham scored 1,125 points. He was the SoCon Freshman of the Year in 2017-2018 and led the conference in scoring at 21.4 points per game as a sophomore.
He moved on to Georgia Tech, where he played two seasons and missed another with a knee injury. His role was decidedly different.
“Georgia Tech, we didn’t need as much of my scoring as at VMI, so I had to transfer my game into a different role,” Parham said. “I was kind of a spot up shooter, but also a defender and all-around hard nose player.”
At Samford, Parham has been called on for a variety of contributions.
“I’m kind of both of those things, combine those programs into one,” Parham said. “I don’t have to go out and shoot every possession, that’s not what’s going to make our team go. I’ve got to be that guy on defense, but also keep the team flowing, keep the ball moving, along with me making plays and making shots.”
Parham said he considered joining former VMI coach Dan Earl, who is now the head coach at Chattanooga. But Samford seemed like a better option at the time.
“I love what Coach Bucky and all the staff is about,” Parham said. “I love what (athletic director Martin Newton) is about. It just seemed like a perfect fit. Coming from Georgia Tech, I wanted a bigger role, bigger responsibity, which I got here at Samford. People were like, why wouldn’t you go play for Coach Earl and things like that. I strongly thought about that but I just wanted to play a new brand of basketball. I’d played that one already. I just thought we’d have the best chance to win. That’s why I chose Samford.”
As expected, he’s helped Samford win. The Bulldogs (20-9 overall, 14-2 SoCon) are on the cusp of winning a Southern Conference title for the first time in program history. Samford has a one-game lead over Furman and UNC Greensboro with two games to play. The Bulldogs play at Chattanooga on Wednesday and come home for what could be the SoCon championship decider against Furman on Saturday.
Parham is coming off his best two scoring games in a Samford uniform. He had 21 points with four 3-pointers to help the Bulldogs come from behind to beat UNCG. Three days later, he had 19 points with five 3-pointers in his return to VMI. He was selected as the SoCon Player of the Week.
Now, Parham moves forward with hopes of putting a winning touch at the end of a winding path through college basketball.
“I’ve grown a lot, starting at VMI, having that real eye-opening experience of the military stuff with the extra strict rules and things like that,” said Parham, who received his degree from Georgia Tech. “It made me appreciate the small things. Then going to Georgia Tech and having to play a different role, basketball wise. Off the court, meeting amazing people, meeting professionals, meeting all types of inspirational people. Then coming here, it’s just been a crazy process. I’ve feel like I’ve definitely grown as a person, just learning from people around me and seeing how life works. I don’t regret any of it.”
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