Santa Clara's Foster shoots free from 3

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Kevin Foster isn’t exactly trying to hide his secret to 3-point success.

After all, the word “dedication” is tattooed on the right arm of the Santa Clara guard who has hoisted up more shots from long range and made more of them than anyone in the nation.

“It’s after practice shooting rep after rep,” Foster said. “It’s all about repetition for me, just getting in the gym after and before practice and taking and making as many shots as I can because I know I’m taking a lot of shots in the game.”

Twenty-five years after the NCAA established a universal 3-point line to forever change college basketball, Foster is defining his college career by making his living from beyond the arc.

To put his numbers into context, compare them with those of recent NBA draft picks Jimmer Fredette, Klay Thompson and Andrew Goudelock, who were regarded as some of the top shooters in the nation last season. Thompson, whose picture-perfect form made him a star at Washington State, attempted 246 3-pointers. Goudelock, whose shoot-first mentality nearly carried Charleston to the NCAA tournament, attempted 322. Fredette, the national player of the year who hit daggers from all over the floor for BYU, attempted 313.

Foster blew them all away by attempting a whopping 380 shots from way downtown, leading the nation with 140 makes.

“It became part of our offense, part of our team,” coach Kerry Keating said. “It wasn’t just him coming down and gunning shots. He took a lot, but he made a lot, so it’s a good dynamic to have.”

At first glance, Foster is perhaps an unlikely candidate to be putting up those prodigious numbers. The 6-foot-2 junior has battled weight issues throughout his career and is listed at 219 pounds. He was a medical redshirt in 2010 after suffering a broken foot in the early part of the season. He is naturally bowlegged and admittedly doesn’t have the best form.

“My shot was never really pure,” Foster said. “It was always fast, but it didn’t really look the best when I was younger especially because I used to push it. It’s not in the purest form, but it gets the job done, I guess. When I got stronger, it got away from a push and more above my head.”

For Foster, it’s his long arms and long days at the gym that get the job done. His length allows him to get his shot over the top of defenders. His work ethic allowed him to gain the confidence to take the deep shot in games.

Foster can remember as far back as 7 years old when he would go shoot with his father, Rick. They would go day and night, before and after work, before and after school and practice. Foster, a native of Katy, Texas, barely registered on the recruiting radar, but Keating saw something in him even if the coach’s first impression was filled with misses.

“I liked the fact that he wasn’t afraid to shoot,” Keating said. “He had a good confidence about him. He really had a good mentality on how to score.”

Foster ended up surprising defenses and connecting on 85 3-pointers as a freshman to break Steve Nash’s single-season school record. Last season, he attempted 20 3-pointers against San Francisco in January. He torched Air Force for eight 3-pointers in a CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament game, and the Broncos went on to win the championship.

“If I’m on the road, I hear a gasp because I shot from so far,” Foster said.

Foster wouldn’t mind improving on his .368 shooting percentage from long range and also hopes to work on his midrange game and get others involved, as he led the team not only in scoring (20.2) but also assists (3.7). But expect a barrage of 3-point attempts from him once again this season as Santa Clara challenges for the West Coast Conference title.

“Sometimes as a coach, you have to kind of bite your tongue a little bit,” Keating said of Foster’s propensity for putting up 3-point shots. “He’s always going to be a threat to make it. He’s always going to have that mentality about making the next one. It’s what you need to have if you’re a good shooter.”