Jay Simpson’s basketball career came to an end on February 23rd, 2014.
With a little more than 12 minutes left in Purdue’s visit to Nebraska, Simpson collapsed during an otherwise normal defensive possession, his knees buckling before he sprawled out at the foul line, signaling to the bench from a prone position.
After the game, Simpson received a litany of tests that told him an unfortunate truth: he was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyotrophy.
Less than two weeks after the game, the school announced that Simpson’s career as a basketball player was over.
Simpson recently spoke with the Purdue Exponent about the diagnosis and how it has affected his life:
Simpson said his teammates have helped him cope, bringing them closer in the process.
“The relationship I have with my teammates is a lot deeper now because we all shared that tough moment together,” Simpson said. “It’s more than just teammates on this team — we’re like brothers, family. I love those guys. I appreciate them for being there for me and sticking this whole thing out with me.”
Despite having to give up the game he’s invested his entire life into, Simpson has begun to see the “big picture” Painter alluded to.
“It didn’t really hit me until probably a week or two after (I collapsed),” Simpson said. “I just woke up one morning like ‘Dang, it’s really over.’ When you go your whole life addicted (to basketball) and you put all your time and energy into one thing and in the snap of your fingers it’s gone, it’s never going to be easy to deal with. I’m still dealing with it to this day, but it’s getting better. I’m starting to realize that I’m more than just a basketball player and I want to show the world that.”
To have something you’ve worked towards your entire life ripped away from you in an instant is not an easy thing for anyone to deal with, let alone a college sophomore. But Simpson seems like he’s realizing that there is more to life than just basketball.
It won’t happen immediately, but what happened to Simpson was a good thing. He found out about the potentially deadly disease before it cost him his life. There are many that haven’t been as lucky.
Last month the NCAA announced that due to rules violations found in their investigation of the SMU men’s basketball program, the team would be banned from postseason play in 2015-16 and head coach Larry Brown would be suspended for the first nine games of the 2015-16 season. With a team led by seniors Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy and just one player (Keith Frazier) being the subject of the investigation, it was assumed that SMU would at the very least appeal the postseason ban.
Friday, the school announced that while it will appeal some of the penalties handed down by the NCAA to the men’s basketball and men’s golf programs they will not appeal the postseason ban or Brown’s suspension.
“After careful consideration, however, we will not appeal the NCAA post-season ban on men’s basketball or partial season suspension of Head Men’s Basketball Coach Larry Brown,” SMU president R. Gerald Turner stated in the release. “Although we regret the severe impact on our student-athletes, the simple fact is that the NCAA penalty structure mandates at minimum a one-year post-season ban for the level of misconduct that occurred, in our case, when a former staff member completed an online high school course for a prospective student-athlete, committing academic misconduct.
“In addition, should we appeal this matter, the lengthy process and uncertainty during this period could harm many aspects of the program. Coach Brown and his staff also agree that it is in the best interests of the program to accept these sanctions and move forward.”
Among the penalties the school will appeal (with regards to the basketball program) are the “duration of scholarship losses” and how long the recruiting restrictions placed on the program will last, and the vacating of games Frazier played in during the 2013-14 season.
This a tough turn of events for players who had nothing to do with the violations, as they see their opportunity to return to the NCAA tournament taken away. As a result of the school’s decision, SMU’s season will end March 9 following their regular season finale against Cincinnati.
Kevin Marfo committed to George Washington on Friday evening, announcing his decision on Twitter.
“I am grateful and appreciative to all the schools that recruited me. But I will be spending the next four years at George Washington University,” he tweeted.
This caps a successful week for Mike Lonergan on the recruiting trail. On Tuesday, GW landed a commitment from Darnell Rogers, a 5-foot-3 point guard. He is the son of former GW guard Shawnta Rogers, the 1999 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. GW ends the week by adding a tenacious rebounder to a front court that graduates top rebounder Kevin Larsen after this season. Rogers and Marfo join power forward Collin Smith in the Class of 2016. Seton Hall transfer Jaren Sina will also be eligible in 2016-17.
He cut his list to 10 in August with Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, Minnesota, Boston College, UMass, Saint Joseph’s, DePaul, Rhode Island and Providence all making the cut along wit the Colonials. He later trimmed the list to five finalists: BC, Providence, DePaul, GW and Rhode Island.
The Worcester Academy (Mass.) forward played for BABC this summer in the Nike EYBL, averaging 11.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-8 Marfo is listed as the No. 148 overall player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.