Jesse Brawders
Jesse Brawders(he/him)
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Jesse Brawders expects to graduate in May 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism and a minor in educational studies. Brawders is a freelance esports commentator.

Latest from Jesse Brawders

Purdue Boilermakers chase redemption in first Final Four appearance since 1980

PHOENIX – The Purdue Boilermakers arrived in Phoenix Tuesday night, as they begin their preparation for the men’s Final Four this weekend at State Farm Stadium. Coach Matt Painter and a few players described the emotions entering the weekend.

The Purdue Boilermakers aim to etch their names in basketball history in the 2024 Men's Final Four beginning Saturday at State Farm Stadium. (Photo by Spencer Barnes/Cronkite News)

GCU men punch ticket into NCAA Tournament after winning WAC Championship bout over UT Arlington

PHOENIX – Grand Canyon University grinded out a victory in the WAC Championship game over UT Arlington, while earning a bid into the NCAA Tournament. This is the second-consecutive title and third in four years under coach Bryce Drew.

Survive and advance: GCU outlasts Seattle, books WAC Championship spot against UT Arlington

LAS VEGAS – GCU outlasted Seattle University 80-72 in its WAC semifinal in Las Vegas through Grant-Foster’s heroics. UT Arlington awaits in the WAC Championship for a bid into the NCAA Tournament.

GCU women’s basketball upset in the WAC semifinals after Stephen F. Austin comeback in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS – Grand Canyon University made an early exit from the WAC women’s tournament during its historic season, as the Lopes fell to Stephen F. Austin 66-63 at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

Making the madness: An inside look at the NCAA’s tournament bracket-building

PHOENIX – On Feb. 21, members of Cronkite News participated in a mock NCAA men’s basketball tournament selection committee ahead of the Final Four in Phoenix. Members of the mock committee learned what it takes to make the bracket every March.

The NCAA Basketball Tournament Selection Committee meets in New York ahead of Selection Sunday to begin the process of selecting and seeding the field of 68 teams. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Oumar Ballo, Arizona Wildcats cruise past USC to Pac-12 Tournament Semifinals

LAS VEGAS – No. 1 Arizona avenged its previous loss to No. 9 USC in a 70-49 victory in the Pac-12 Men’s Tournament Quarterfinals in Las Vegas. Coach Tommy Lloyd praised his bench and center Oumar Ballo, but emphasized the Wildcats aren’t looking too far ahead yet.

Arizona freshman guard KJ Lewis celebrates after making a layup while being fouled in the Wildcats' 70-49 win Thursday against USC in the 2024 Pac-12 Tournament Quarterfinals at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Dominic Contini/Cronkite News)

GCU men, women enter WAC Tournament on cusp of March Madness bids amid record-breaking seasons

LAS VEGAS – The GCU men’s and women’s basketball teams finished the regular seasons on historic highs. In preparation for their WAC tournament runs, more than just a March Madness berth is on the line.

With their eyes on the WAC tournament crown, Tyon Grant-Foster and his teammates seek to build on their stellar regular season performance and punch GCU's ticket to the Big Dance. (Photo by Christopher Hook/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Bonded by baseball: 3 young Brewers fan battling illnesses forge friendship on spring training trip

PHOENIX – The Brewers welcomed three young Aurora Health Care patients who were nominated as the Aurora MVPs. The families visited spring training, bonding through their shared traumas and love.

The Milwaukee Brewers host Aurora Health Care's MVPs Brandon Krueger, Malakai Kaesermann and Evan Rennicke at spring training. (Photo courtesy of Aurora Health Care)

Ford Championship 2024 marks milestone moment for LPGA Tour in Gilbert

GILBERT - On Feb. 10, LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux joined local pros Mina Harigae and Alena Sharp to announce the Ford Championship at the Seville Golf & Country Club. During the event, they discussed the future of the LPGA Tour and women’s golf.

LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan unveils the 2024 Ford Championship, a historic moment for women's golf in Gilbert. (Photo by Jesse Brawders/Cronkite News)

NCAA sets forth plan to extend protection for athletes with new Post-Eligibility Insurance Program

PHOENIX – At the NCAA Convention in Phoenix, officials previewed their new Post Eligibility Insurance Program. The policy goes live in August and aims to be an extra layer of protection for NCAA athletes.

The Post-Eligibility Insurance Program, set to take effect Aug. 1, aims to offer extended coverage and support beyond an athlete's eligibility period. (Photo by Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

79 days and counting: NCAA officials, local leaders preview festivities in lead-up to men’s basketball Final Four

PHOENIX – NCAA officials, Gov. Katie Hobbs and local leaders met Wednesday to showcase some of the upcoming festivities for the Final Four. In the panels, they previewed what local and visiting fans can expect throughout the weekend.

Josh Bartelstein (CEO Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury), Dan Gavitt (NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball) and Dr. Charles McClelland (Chair of the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee) take time to reminisce on past Final Four experiences at a Wednesday press conference. (Photo by Bennett Silvyn/Cronkite News)

NCAA president: Social media harassment of college athletes a growing problem because of sports gambling

PHOENIX – The NCAA Convention welcomed representatives from all over the country this week at the Phoenix Convention Center. In a featured session, sports gambling and its consequences were one of the main stories and offered a preview of the NCAA’s new campaign in March.

At the annual NCAA Convention in Phoenix, panel discussions focus on the rising dangers of sports gambling and unveil a plan to protect athletes and bettors from potential abuse and addiction. (Photo by Jesse Brawders/Cronkite News)

Sweet glory: Washington cruises into College Football Playoff without controversy, earns rematch with Texas in Sugar Bowl

PHOENIX – In the CFP selection committee’s final rankings, Washington finished at No. 2, its highest ranking in program history. The Huskies join Michigan, Texas and Alabama, with Florida State controversially left out.

The No. 2 Washington Huskies secure a spot in the College Football Playoff, carrying the hopes of the Pac-12 for a shot at redemption and a national title. (Photo by Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Vegas, baby: Washington, Oregon aim for Pac-12 and CFP glory

PHOENIX – In the penultimate rankings of the season and the current format, Washington and Oregon are both in prime positioning to clinch a spot in the College Football Playoff with a win in the Pac-12 Championship.

Pac 12 teams during a game.

Four real: Washington leaps past Florida State at No. 4 in College Football Playoff rankings

PHOENIX – Washington is among the Top 4 teams in the College Football Playoff rankings for the first time since 2016, drawing one step closer to competing for the national title.

Michael Penix Jr., left, and No. 4 Washington carry the hopes of a College Football Playoff berth and rewriting the postseason narrative for the resurgent Huskies. (Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images)

Oregon State eyes chaotic conclusion to upend Pac-12 in College Football Playoff race

PHOENIX – Oregon State moved to No. 11 in the most recent CFP poll, and now has the chance to create a dramatic finish in the Pac-12's last hope for a playoff spot.

Arizona Wildcats enter CFP ranks; Washington, Oregon keep Pac-12’s CFP hopes alive

PHOENIX – In the second College Football Playoff rankings, Arizona jumped into the top 25 for the first time since 2017 after the Wildcats’ win over UCLA. They join four other Pac-12 schools in the rankings, with Washington and Oregon in prime position to jump into a playoff spot.

UoA players celebrate

Desert Ridge High School leads way in building bridge to connect students with world of competitive robotics

MESA – Desert Ridge robotics has slowly built one of the best programs in the state, eyeing a return to the VEX World Championship after a top 16 finish last school year with the Nano Jagwires.

Desert Ridge student and a partially built robot.

Chaos contained: Arizona Diamondbacks silenced by Texas Rangers in World Series loss

PHOENIX – The Arizona Diamondbacks’ 2023 season was a roller coaster, featuring the highs of securing a postseason berth and sweeping rivals, and the lows of losing in the World Series.

Carrol in the batter's box

Washington, Oregon give Pac-12 conference life in first College Football Playoff rankings

PHOENIX – The first College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday, with the Pac-12 boasting six teams in the top 25. Can No. 5 Washington and No. 6 Oregon sneak in in the conference’s final season?

Zac Gallen’s postseason homecoming spoiled as Phillies claim NLCS Game 1

PHOENIX – Diamondbacks pitcher Zac Gallen grew up just 10 miles away from Citizens Bank Park, and took the mound against the Philadelphia Phillies. The postseason homecoming did not go to plan for Gallen, as Philadelphia racked up three HRs and took Game 1 of the NLCS, 5-3

Gallen walking off after the inning

Bring on the Dodgers: Resilient Diamondbacks claw back on the road, set up L.A. showdown

PHOENIX – The Arizona Diamondbacks clinched their ticket to the NLDS after a 5-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday night, sweeping the NL Wild Card Series 2-0. The Diamondbacks now face a familiar foe in the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS.

Arizona Diamondbacks closer Paul Sewald secures the final out of Game 2 in Wednesday's National League wild-card series against the Milwaukee Brewers. (Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Brophy Prep Overwatch seeks third consecutive national championship under new leadership and roster

PHOENIX – With a new director and young roster, Brophy Prep’s Overwatch team begins its run for another PlayVs national championship.

Brophy esports student playing a video game on the computer

As popularity of Premier League soccer teams grows in U.S., supporters flock to Phoenix pubs

PHOENIX – Premier League fans around Phoenix have created support groups for their favorite teams over the last decade, but for some, finding a bar to call their own has been a struggle.

Phoenix Desert Blues members watch the UEFA Champions League final at The Kettle Black Kitchen & Pub