When your father is a nationally known musician who’s sold millions of albums, won a Grammy Award and played for thousands of adoring fans, it can be hard to escape his shadow.
Singer and songwriter Bruce Hornsby has cracked The Billboard Top 40 six times and delivered the closest thing to a perfect song with That’s Just The Way It Is, which soared to the No. 1 spot in 1986. Roughly 30 years later, his son, Keith, a senior guard on the LSU basketball team, hopes to finish his collegiate career on a similar high note.
Last season, the younger Hornsby took big steps towards establishing his own fame, scoring in double digits in 15 consecutive games. That was the longest streak on the team and the best by an LSU player since Tasmin Mitchell during the 2009-2010 campaign. Hornsby averaged 13.4 points per contest and drilled an incredible three pointer from the corner to beat No. 18 Arkansas 81-78 during the regular season in Fayetteville. He then proceeded to basically be the only LSU player to appear in an SEC Tournament 73-70 overtime defeat to Auburn, torching the nets for 24 more points.
Slowly but surely, Keith is becoming more than "Bruce Hornsby’s son."
"I’ve tried; I’m TRYING," a smiling Hornsby said. "I think it will be a never ending process. I’ll be honest about that. Because, I understand it. It’s an interesting thing about me. You don’t get a high major college basketball player with a famous musician for a dad every day. So, it gives people something new to talk about. And I understand that. And obviously, I love my dad’s work and stuff, so I’ll never really mind it. But of course, I’m always searching to be my own individual, separate from THE SON of Bruce Hornsby. I think last year helped me out. And we’re getting there, slowly but surely."
Hornsby did an outstanding job protecting the basketball down the stretch last season, turning it over only 21 times during LSU’s final 16 games. The Tigers surged into the NCAA Tournament and head coach Johnny Jones called Hornsby the hardest working player he’s ever coached. It’s a compliment Hornsby said he’ll never forget.
"I think a lot of that comes from my dad. He instilled that work ethic in me pretty early, but it didn’t really stick until upper high school. But he’s also been a big factor in that aspect of my game," Hornsby added.
LSU fans are looking forward to watching Hornsby’s energetic and gritty play once again at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center this season. He’s never been a player afraid to dive after a basketball or go skidding into a wall.
"Really, it’s just more of a chip on my shoulder all the time. You know, you look at me and people have underrated me and continue to throughout my whole life. And they’ll probably continue to. And it’s fine. It’s probably a bit of a blessing, because it serves as a constant motivator," Hornsby explained.
And Hornsby needs more reason to focus. He looks no farther than the end of last season. Sure, LSU made the NCAA Tournament, but the Tigers blew a 16-point second half lead in a nauseating 66-65 opening round loss to North Carolina State in Pittsburgh.
"Of course, leaving there I couldn’t think straight. I had all sorts of crazy thoughts going through my mind. It was one of the weirdest, disappointing feelings of my life probably. I couldn’t believe we were done and it certainly lit a fire under me that, 'I don’t want to feel this feeling again,’" Hornsby recalled.
Hornsby and the Tigers are ranked No. 19 in the USA Today coaches’ poll and host Southwest Baptist in an exhibition on November 6 at the PMAC. Admission is free to the public.
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