ROCHESTER, Mich. (AP) — Travis Bader was a North Carolina fan growing up, but there was at least one Duke player who earned his respect.
That was J.J. Redick, the man whose record for career 3-pointers Bader is on the verge of breaking.
“It just seemed like everybody hated him, and I really don’t know why everybody hated him. It was just this kid who could go out there and light it up,” Bader said. “I thought that was really neat, how he could come into arenas and he could still put up 30 points a game after all this criticism.”
Bader has never faced the kind of constant taunting that Redick endured, but the Oakland University senior is now dealing with pressure of a different sort.
He needs eight 3-pointers to surpass Redick’s mark of 457, the most by a Division I player. Although he hasn’t been at his best lately, Bader is still appreciative of the spotlight that comes with his pursuit of a major national record.
“I think obviously it shows the hard work I’ve put in, the endless hours in the gym and where I’ve came from,” Bader said. “I think it reflects on Oakland University as a whole — the players that have come through, the coaches that I’ve played under. But at the same time, I am looking forward to it being over.”
Bader didn’t know it at the time, but one of the most important moves he made after arriving at Oakland was redshirting his first season there. He says he was about 6 foot 3 and 155 pounds coming out of high school — and simply wasn’t ready to play at the college level.
If Bader had wasted a year of eligibility sitting on the bench or playing ineffectively, Redick’s record would have probably been out of the question.
Instead, Bader was able to contribute when he finally took the floor as a redshirt freshman in 2010-11, making 94 3-pointers at a 44 percent clip.
Oakland won 25 games that season behind Bader, fellow guard Reggie Hamilton and star center Keith Benson, who went on to be an NBA draft pick.
“I wasn’t on scouting reports,” Bader said. “Teams knew I could shoot it, but at the same time, we had so many weapons my freshman year, that teams couldn’t play me how they’re playing me now.”
Hamilton led the nation in scoring the following season, and Bader added 124 3-pointers as a sophomore, including 10 in a 37-point effort against South Dakota State.
In 2012-13, with Hamilton gone, Bader upped his scoring average to 22.1 points as a junior. The highlight was probably his 47-point performance against IUPUI — he made a career-high 11 3s in that game.
Duke’s success gave Redick’s 3-point totals a boost — he ended up playing 139 games for the Blue Devils, thanks in part to the fact that his team reached the NCAA round of 16 in all four of his seasons, including one trip to the Final Four.
Bader has played only 126 games, but he’s already attempted 1,127 shots from beyond the arc — one more than Redick. Their percentages from 3-point range (.406 for Redick and .399 for Bader) are almost even.
Bader’s success is a byproduct of Oakland’s up-tempo style, which has also helped players such as Benson and Hamilton earn national recognition at the Detroit-area school.
Coach Greg Kampe certainly understands how impressive Bader’s pursuit of the 3-point record might look to high school prospects deciding where to go to college.
“When he becomes the best ever, you can bet that there’ll be a mail-out to every recruit,” Kampe said. “It’s been great for Oakland, it’s been great for the program.”
Both Kampe and Bader appreciate the extra attention, even though the sharp-shooting guard has been in a slump lately. Bader is 12 of 53 from 3-point range over his past five games.
“There’s no question it’s weighing on him,” Kampe said. “It’s been a struggle, and we kind of thought that might happen.”
Still, the Golden Grizzlies have enough games remaining that Bader’s record should come in time. He made five 3-pointers against Illinois-Chicago on Saturday, so perhaps his shooting stroke is returning with a home game against Youngstown State coming up Friday night.
“I never thought of anything like making the most 3-pointers in the NCAA,” Bader said. “I came in, and nobody knew who I was. Everybody thought I was a manager or something, I was so skinny — sitting at the end of the bench as a redshirt, and I’m trying to tell everybody why I’m not playing.
“I think that kind of fueled me, but at the same time, I never expected anything like this to happen. I just worked my tail off, and good things happened.”
(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)