TAMPA, Fla. — Lakewood Ranch's Chase Maasdorp is a walk-on for the Auburn men's basketball team. He doesn't get much playing time, and he doesn't fill the stat sheet, but he knows his biggest contribution to his team comes away from the court.
"I feel like a big role that I play on this team is being with the guys outside of 'between the lines,'" Maasdorp said before Friday's shootaround. "Always checking in on them. Seeing how they’re doing. 'How can I help you?'"
Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl beamed when he talked about Maasdorp's role on the team.
"Chase has been a great player for us and an unbelievable teammate. He’s a non-scholarship player, but he’s as an important part of our team as any of our scholarship guys," Pearl said.
Maasdorp, a graduate of The Out-Of-Door Academy, came highly recommended to the Tigers program.
"I got a call from Dick Vitale," Pearl added. "He said, 'I’m just telling you, coach, you’re gonna want to have this kid on your team.' And Dick was right.”
Auburn faces USF at Amalie Arena, a place Maasdorp knows well. He started going to Tampa Bay Lightning games in high school, and he's not shy about showing off his allegiance to the two-time reigning Stanley Cup champs.
"I rep the Lightning. I have a hoodie that I wear all the time," Chase joked. "When they won the championship last year, the back-to-back. That’s just always fun. Being away, just kinda messing with a lot of people in Auburn. 'You know, Florida, we’re the best hockey state.'"
Auburn doesn't have an official team chaplain, but they do have Chase.
"We had a bible study last night," Maasdorp said. "We just talked about how we can be a team, and how you can’t go as far as your dream, you can only go as far as your team. Just talking about how we can bring our team together today."
Maasdorp said he'll have at least 20 family members and friends in the stands tonight. 21st-ranked Auburn (2-0) and USF (2-1) tip-off at 7 p.m.