SDSU’s Triston Broughton is wired to win

Credit: Don De Mars/EVT

Credit: Twitter @tristonwb

Life as a scholarship athlete is arduous. The practice time required away from the fans and television cameras preparing for competition weeds out all but a select few.

Weekend warriors may love the game, but they do not embrace the grind to play at the highest levels. Among those with enough strength for the process, some are forced to carry an additional load. While putting in all the work of their teammates, non-scholarship athletes have duties all their own. 

When a player walks on at a school, they are paying their own tuition and assuming the same debt as the rest of the school population. Following the adoption of the legislation that allowed players to benefit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL), BYU famously partnered with a local company to pay for the full tuition of the non-scholarship players on their football team. Comedically, the NCAA launched an investigation into the NIL deal as a possible “pay to play” violation of its by-laws.

Credit: Don De Mars/EVT

SDSU guard Triston Broughton deals with this obstacle by working as an Uber driver or delivering groceries with Instacart. Aztec wide receiver Mehki Shaw works at Home Depot. They do it to ease the financial burden on themselves and their families. In Broughton’s case, he labors so his single mom, Tracy Broughton, does not have to work more to provide for him.

The grind does not end there. Every member of SDSU’s basketball team, who is paying their way through school, has been an Academic All-Mountain West performer. They embody the term “scholar-athlete,” and their work in the classroom requires as much time and dedication as their athletic pursuits. Broughton, bringing excellence to everything he does, was a valedictorian in high school.

If weight training, growing his game on the court, assuming the financial burden of school, working a part-time job, and maintaining a high GPA were not enough, Broughton has to fulfill his role with the Aztecs. He is a member of the scout team.

SDSU is built on elite man-to-man defense. Their best chance to win involves stopping the tendencies of their opponents’ best players. Through intense film sessions, Broughton and the scout team are charged with first recognizing the moves of their opposition and the spots on the court where they like to shoot. Then, applying what they learned, they are tasked with adopting that playing style to give their teammates as close to a facsimile of the real thing as possible.


Since joining the team in 2019, Broughton has exceeded all the expectations listed above. While he relishes proving his doubters, who said he could never be a division one athlete, wrong, when asked, he was reluctant to acknowledge how much he has accomplished. A Kobe Bryant enthusiast, he certainly possesses the “Mamba Mentality.”

“I feel I am just kind of wired this way,” Broughton said on an upcoming episode of The SDSU Basketball Podcast. “I was born this way, raised this way. My mom never quit. She’s done so much for me. Seeing that persistence in her. She’s taught me, ‘Nothing can stop a man or woman who will not quit.’ I live by that, and I feel I can accomplish whatever I put my mind to. … It’s that persistence in me that wants to keep on going and not quit. It wants to prove people wrong. A lot of people told me, ‘you’re not going to play division one. What are you thinking?’ … it’s that grit. It’s that desire to want to prove people wrong, and it’s the way I’m wired.”

Despite being the son of former first-round pick and ten-year NBA veteran Chris Mills, Broughton grew up with only his mother and twin-brother, Tyler.  Playing together with his sibling on the Aztecs allows him to have half his family with him at all times. The source of the Broughton boys’ inspiration is their mother.

Credit: OC Register

A severe car accident left her hemiplegic, paralyzed on the left side of her body. Never allowing her limitations to define her, she moved from a wheelchair to walking with a pair of crutches and presently is down to one. Broughton is praying his mom will walk one day without support.

Figuring out how to provide for her family while facing the reality of her situation is nothing short of amazing.  While raising two sons alone is her greatest accomplishment, it is not her most public achievement. In 2011, she won the Ms. America competition.

“It goes way before her accident,” Broughton explained. “Her mother died when she was about 18 of cancer. She had three siblings, so she was the oldest and had to take care of them. … Raising her siblings, she got in a car accident in high school and then got in another one in college. Completely paralyzed, she couldn’t move the left side of her body. Had to tie her shoelaces with her teeth. Therapy three times a day. They said she can never walk again, never have kids. Again, that persistency with my mom, proving doctors wrong. Whoever it is, never let anyone tell you, ‘no.’ (She) had me. We lived in our car. We were homeless until I was about one year old. Again, persistency. We somehow moved out to Orange County, got a house, amazing school, amazing community.”

Broughton’s drive is rooted in his mother’s story. The foundation of his relentlessness set in her struggle for health and wellness. When a person sees the impossible come to fruition, it redefines and reshapes normal conventions. It is a unique gift that broadens the horizons of everyone Broughton comes in contact with. 

What does this mindset mean for the Aztecs in 2022-2023? Broughton has played ten minutes, attempted four shots, and scored zero points over his SDSU career. Commenting on what he could bring to the team is a complete unknown because his work has been done behind closed doors. In high school, he was an all-league performer in each of his final three seasons. As a senior, he averaged 17 points a game.

Credit: Don De Mars/EVT

The energy he brings in practice is outstanding. He makes plays because of his effort, intensity, and skill. His hope is to impersonate the star players across the nation well enough that the staff takes notice of him and gives him a chance in the rotation. At a minimum, he pushes everyone on the roster to play with passion because they have the opportunity he covets.

“The goal for basketball is obviously more minutes, more time, more opportunity,” Broughton said. “All I can do is put my head down and work, be dialed in. That’s my goal. I want to be on the court. I want to produce. I want to make a name for myself at San Diego State. I want to leave a legacy on the basketball team. I feel like every player has that. That’s my true desire. … I dream to be a personal manager to some extent, whether that be for an athlete or a celebrity, anything in that field. Some type of management position would be awesome out of college if the ball stops bouncing.”

Who knows when his opportunity to play basketball will end? He is convinced the naysayers, who doubt his ability to achieve his goals, will join the long list of people who bet against the Broughton family and lost. One thing is certain, whether at SDSU in basketball, as a business entrepreneur after graduation, or in anything else he decides to do, success is sure to follow because Triston Broughton is wired to win. 

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Paul Garrison
My earliest sport's memory involve tailgating at the Murph, running down the circular exit ramps, and seeing the Padres, Chargers and Aztecs play. As a second generation Aztec, I am passionate about all things SDSU. Other interests include raising my four children, being a great husband and teaching high school.
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