Seth Buchanan – Don’t Call It A Comeback

Dawn Cauthen-Thornton | October 16th, 2017
Seth Buchanan

Seth Buchanan

They’re not father and son like some may think, but they are family. Eugene Seals, former head basketball coach at Bridgeport High School in Saginaw, Michigan is Seth Buchanan’s uncle. But he’s not just his uncle, he’s his mentor, his confidante, and until recently, his basketball coach. Seth also confessed that Eugene is somewhat of an idol and Eugene gushed that Seth is more like a big brother to his five year old cousins, Noah and Elle, Eugene’s children.

Seth remembers his favorite Fischer-Price basketball goal and how long he kept it until his mother threw it away. “I would go and buy so much tape so I could tape my goal back to the wall because I played on it so much that it was just falling down. I was devastated when my mom got rid of it. I don’t think she knows that,” he laughed.

From an early age Eugene and Seth bonded over cross-overs and outside shots. Though Seth’s three older brothers were mostly interested in football, Seth took an interest in basketball and Uncle Eugene was the perfect person to get him started.

Eugene is a former basketball star at Saginaw High School and went on to play for Miami University in Oxford, Ohio for four years. That led to a professional basketball career, internationally. Playing in Mexico, Colombia, Spain, and Macedonia, Eugene retired in 2010 partially because of an injury but mostly because he wanted to settle down with his wife Lauren and start a family. (Seth joked that his uncle used to be able to speak fluent Spanish due to his extensive traveling, but has probably since forgotten the language.) Heading back home to Michigan, Eugene didn’t hang up his sneakers too soon. He kept them loosely laced as he became the assistant coach at his alma mater, Saginaw High School.

“I coached while Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors) was there and the school won two championships with him (Draymond) leading the way,” he remembers. Eugene spent two years at the high school, then transitioned to Saginaw Valley State University for two more years. In 2013, he accepted a head coaching position at Bridgeport High School where his nephew eventually attended. While there, Eugene’s style of coaching allowed Bridgeport to become one of the top teams in the state. He has since resigned as the head coach, but he leaves with many memories of the program he helped build.

One memory in particular that he can never forget – the day his surrogate son, Seth, collapsed on the basketball court and technically ‘died’ during a game. “I watched his body go lifeless but I was able to revive him,” Eugene remembers. Seth, two of his brothers, and his mom all have heart murmurs, but 17 year old Seth has a more serious condition called Vasovagal Syncope, which, according to mayoclinic.org, occurs when you faint due to the body overreacting to certain triggers. For Seth, the triggers can be standing up too fast, not eating and drinking enough, and not getting adequate rest. The triggers cause your heart rate and blood pressure to drop suddenly. That leads to reduced blood flow to your brain, causing you to briefly lose consciousness.

“It was embarrassing, but it was even harder on my family because they actually saw it happen,” Seth says. However, being embarrassed was the least of his worries. He essentially missed most of the season, and even when Eugene did let him play again, he was extremely cautious. “Seeing that [happen] made me very uncomfortable. But he’s come a long way. I wasn’t going to ever allow him to play again, but now he may be able to become one of the top seniors next year,” Eugene says.

This past summer, considering he’d lost so much time on the court, Seth attended several basketball camps to enhance his skills as well as to be seen by schools who previously didn’t know he existed. “He was able to play against college kids and he did very well,” says Eugene.

Now Seth attends Vermont Academy in Saxtons River, Vermont, and is essentially a small forward, though he’s versatile on the court. “I’m not the greatest dribbler but with my height I can rebound, I can pass, and I can shoot.” Seth toots the horns of his teammates as well, citing everyone on his team can play different positions effectively.

To keep up with his rigorous schedule without encountering an episode, Seth has learned to listen to his body. Even when he returned to school after the scare at Bridgeport this past winter, he felt himself becoming weak during his first game back. “I was so tired that I tried to tell my uncle I needed to sit down. But he didn’t hear me. So I ended up fowling another player just so I could take a break.”

Seth is on medication now and confirms that it has literally been a lifesaver. He eats regularly and healthier, and at times, forgoes hanging out with his teammates just so he can sleep. He credits his family for helping him get through his tough times. His father, a bank executive in Saginaw, makes sure he sees his son often by flying him home every chance he gets. He keeps in touch with his Uncle Eugene via texts regularly.

The 6’8 student also adores his brothers, who all push him to be better academically and athletically, whether they know it or not. All three of his older brothers are in college and doing quite well. Seth laughs that they have an unspoken competition going on amongst them. That shouldn’t be a surprise since he comes from a family of scholars. Seth’s mother, Felicia, was formerly a chemical engineer and her twin sister is a medical doctor, as is his grandfather.

“Just when one of my brothers sets the bar high, another brother comes along and sets it even higher. And I admire all of them for continuing to push forward and be excellent examples for me. They’re all amazing.”

When asked about additional plans if he decides he doesn’t want to play basketball professionally, Seth matter-of-factly says he’ll either become a bio-medical engineer, a surgeon (a nod to his aunt who has prophesied this), or a physicist. It’s not often that you see a 6’8 doctor with a wingspan of 6’10 pick up a scalpel as well as he can palm a basketball, but I’m sure his family wouldn’t mind him continuing the legacy.

“We don’t have any slackers in our family,” says Eugene, “And Seth will be no different.”

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