Whether you believe life is predestined or not, Brett Lauer’s rise to the level where he is today is remarkable.
Generously listed at 6 feet 1 inch and 180 pounds, Lauer does not have the intimidating physique of the typical college basketball star. His athleticism, though superior to a normal college student, does not match up to most competitors at his position. He does not come from a powerful basketball lineage, though his dad John played basketball at a junior college, and his sister won a high school basketball title.
With all of this going against him, how did he get to where he is today? It’s simple: three-point shooting.
Through Saturday, the Concord native had drilled 36 of 75 three-point attempts, which is good for 48 percent. Lauer would be ranked sixth nationally in three-point field goal percentage, but he is nine three-pointers short of the 2.5 three-pointers made per game requirement to qualify for the rankings. However, more impressively, Lauer is shooting a lights-out 51.7 percent from three in five conference games, including a 27-point performance in a win over Cal State Fullerton earlier this season. He was seven of 12 from three-point range.
When asked what the title of his book would be if he were to write one today he said, “Finding a Way.”
The three-point shot became his way. At a very young age his father told him that he was not going to make it with his physique or athleticism. So like his dad, Lauer found a way through shooting.
“My dad was a real good shooter; he taught me everything I know. And my mom helped me get my attitude right,” Lauer said.
Lauer developed a tremendous work ethic in the front yard of his house where he would shoot for hours. His front yard became the hot spot after school as friends gathered to play basketball for hours.
While he dominated with his shooter’s touch on the hardwood, many told him that he could not cut it on the football field.
“A lot of people said I couldn’t do it. So I decided to prove them wrong,” Lauer said.
Lauer made the team as a wide receiver and played an important role as a blocker and short yardage receiver. Lauer’s favorite football player is Jason Hanson. Yes, the kicker for the 0-16 Detroit Lions. While he roots for his father’s hometown teams, his choice of favorite player is interesting but not outlandish. Like a kicker, Lauer’s basketball game dwells from long-range, Lauer’s three-point game involves more pressure. Like a kicker, and is all in his legs.
“Many people forget how important the legs are for shooting. It’s where all the power and balance comes from,” Lauer said.
Hanson made 21 of 22 field goals last season. Cut that number nearly in half and you have Lauer’s single greatest performance in high school. Against Freedom High School in the Bay Area, Lauer made 10 of 12 three-point attempts en route to a career-high 38 points and a victory for Clayton Valley High. Lauer finished high school as a two-time All-Bay Valley Athletic League first-team selection.
Despite his impressive shooting throughout high school, Lauer’s tools did not garner much attention from college programs. When asked about the name of the first chapter of “Finding a Way,” Lauer said it would be “Using the Non-Believers as Motivation.”
Lauer didn’t give up on his dream and took his shot to San Diego Mesa College where he averaged 18 points a game, including a 36-point performance against Palomar College.
The UC Irvine coaching staff took notice of his 41 percent three-point percentage and his passionate play. He signed with UCI in June 2006. He continued his hot shooting and was second on the team with 50 three-pointers. However, he often disappeared in games and felt he could dramatically improve his shooting.
Last summer, he took 500 shots every day. During the season, he stays late after practice and shoots an additional 100 threes. For every shot that he misses, he punishes himself by hitting that number of free throws consecutively, starting over if he ever misses. He hits the weight room three times a week during the season and puts special focus on strengthening his legs.
One other training regiment he implored this season is shooting more threes in game-like situations. He won’t shoot many stand-alone, open threes. Instead, he’ll come off screens and find open space in game-speed to take three-point shots.
The numbers don’t lie, this year especially. It seems as if he is going to make every shot that leaves his fingers. Opposing coaches assign players to tail and plan games to limit his attempts.
However, when he is feeling it, which he seems to more and more as the season progresses, it’s doubtful he’ll miss.
He considers himself a part of a dying breed of pure shooters.
“You don’t see too many Steve Kerr’s or Jeff Hornacek’s,” Lauer said, referring to the NBA legends who played Lauer-like roles to perfection.
When asked where he would be if he didn’t have his three-point shot, Lauer said, “I’d find some other way to get here.”