Jerry Tarkanian’s legacy evident with Chris Jeter and his Duke-bound son

Leave a comment
AP Photo

Chris Jeter had to cut the conversation short. There was a car accident and Jeter, a 15-year veteran of the Las Vegas Metro Police Department, was one of the closest to the scene. He had a job to do, which meant that his talking about his college coach, Jerry Tarkanian, could wait.

Jeter was a reserve forward on the famed Runnin’ Rebels teams of the late-80s and early-90s. He won a national title in 1990 and played on the 1991 team that entered the NCAA tournament undefeated before losing to Duke in the Final Four.

But he was also a kid that came from a rough neighborhood in Southeast San Diego, a kid who initially enrolled at Missouri before being ruled academically ineligible, a kid that needed the second chance that was offered to him by Coach Tark.

That second chance is not one that was offered up by many other schools.

“A lot of us came from the harder side, whether it was L.A., Texas, D.C.,” Jeter told on Wednesday, just hours after learning of Tarkanian’s death. “Tark really took a liking to the hard type of guys, the guys that a lot of schools didn’t want to take a chance on.”

Tarkanian’s legacy is complicated. He laughed in the face of NCAA regulations, turning him into the Rebel of college basketball, a bad-boy image that only enhanced the renegade reputation of his basketball teams. He was an advocate for student-athlete rights long before it became a trend, before his time when it came to criticism of the NCAA’s brand of amateurism, and it made him a target. Some media vilified him and helped make him a target of the NCAA’s enforcement arm, enough so that he managed to win a $2.5 million settlement when he sued the association for harassment.

But Tarkanian was also a guy that wasn’t afraid to give kids a chance, kids that had a record, or that didn’t have the grades, or that flamed out at their previous program. Kids that other programs didn’t want to give an opportunity to. He certainly could win this way — there was plenty of talent-with-baggage available in those days — but, as he told Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports, he could also change the course of that person’s life. He could give that player’s family a future.

“Maybe not all my guys were going to become doctors and lawyers,” he told Wetzel. “But they were exposed to college, they learned to value education and so maybe their kids are the ones who will become doctors and lawyers.”

And Jeter?

He’s the perfect example.

“I wanted to get out of Southeast San Diego,” he said. “I really, truly did. Just to make it in life.”

So he took advantage of that second chance that Tark was offering. He enrolled at UNLV in 1987, he spent four years playing spot minutes, never averaging more than 1.1 points, and eventually earned his degree. He’s still living in Las Vegas 24 years later, a police officer with a family, a life that didn’t always seem like a certainty when he was still in California.

“Tark was very, very instrumental in me becoming a law enforcement officer,” Jeter said. “I remember the conversation clearly. He asked me what were my goals when I graduated, and I told him that I wanted to become a police officer.

“Take a student athlete from where we came from, and what he did for a lot of us was to give us a voice that we really didn’t have. He really just helped us out becoming who we are as people. For those of us who took the path that he gave us and received our degrees and became parents, hopefully role models, [because of] that voice he gave us.”

Jeter has become a parent, and if you haven’t heard of his son, you will one day soon.

His name is Chase Jeter, and he’s a top 10 recruit nationally, a McDonald’s All-American that will be heading to Duke next season to play his college ball. A school where becoming a doctor or a lawyer or a businessman is the norm that is steeped in college basketball history and tradition.

“I remember my dad telling me stories about the type of poverty he lived in when he was a kid,” Chase said. “Being able to go to UNLV and have an opportunity to play in college for Tark was just a blessing for him. I know he’s grateful for that, and I know I’m grateful for [my] opportunity.”

Tark wasn’t perfect, but he did a lot of good to help a lot of people that wouldn’t otherwise have had the opportunities that he helped provide. The elder Jeter, who had left Missouri after all of one summer school session, was a 6-foot-9 African-American from a drug and gang-infested part of San Diego with a temper. As he told a local paper back in 1990, “I’d say about half my friends from high school are dead.”

But he was also a smart kid, a kid that wanted better for himself, a kid that only needed an opportunity.

Tark was right when he gave one to him.

That said, Tark was also wrong, about Chris Jeter and many of his former teammates.

“He was wrong because we do have lawyers and doctors and police officers,” he said. “A lot of people thought that we would not become doctors and lawyers and businessmen, but by him taking a chance on us, we were successful in doing that. He was successful in giving the athletes that no one would recruit the time, the benefit of saying you can become [whatever you want] by pushing yourself.”

Louisville’s Deng Adel and Ray Spalding to test draft process

Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A season that began with the firing of Rick Pitino in mid-October came to an end Tuesday night, as Louisville lost to Mississippi State 79-56 in a Postseason NIT regional final. There are a lot of questions to be answered, most notably who will lead the program moving forward after interim head coach David Padgett led the Cardinals to 22 wins.

As for the players, two announced following the loss that they will be going through the NBA Draft process. Junior wing Deng Adel and junior forward Ray Spalding both confirmed that they will be entering the NBA Draft but not hiring agents, so as to preserve their collegiate eligibility should they decide to return to school.

This will be the second time that Adel has entered the NBA Draft, doing so last spring before making the decision to return to school.

Playing just over 33 minutes per game, the 6-foot-8 Adel averaged 15.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per contest, shooting 44.8 percent from the field and 35.0 percent from three. Moving into the starting lineup after serving as a reserve in each of his first two seasons at Louisville, the 6-foot-10 Spalding averaged 12.3 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 27.4 minutes per game.

Mississippi State advances to NIT semifinals at MSG

Michael Reaves/Getty Images
Leave a comment

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Quinndary Weatherspoon scored 19 points and grabbed 14 rebounds and Mississippi State advanced to the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York with a 79-56 victory over Louisville on Tuesday night.

Mississippi State (25-11) will face Penn State (24-13) on March 27.

Lamar Peters opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer and Mississippi State led by at least nine points the rest of the way. Weatherspoon scored eight points during a 12-3 run to start the third for a 51-31 advantage and MSU cruised.

Aric Holman added 16 points and eight rebounds for Mississippi State, which has won its most games since the 2009-10 season. Xavian Stapleton and Nick Weatherspoon each chipped in with 12 points. Abdul Ado had three blocks to tie Jarvis Varnado for the most blocks by a MSU freshman with 67.

Ray Spalding paced Louisville (22-14) with 13 points and 11 rebounds for his 11th double-double of the season. The Cardinals shot 35 percent from the floor and were outrebounded 42-32.

Gregg Marshall does right by Alex Lomax with NLI release

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Memphis introduced Penny Hardaway as its new head coach Tuesday morning, with the former Tiger great and Memphis native making his triumphant return to campus.

And it didn’t take long for Hardaway’s hiring to have an impact on the recruiting trail either, as the point guard who led Hardaway’s Memphis East squad to its third straight TSSAA AAA state title is expected to play for his longtime mentor.

Alex Lomax, who signed a National Letter of Intent to play for Gregg Marshall at Wichita State, requested to be released from his NLI on Tuesday. It didn’t take Marshall long to make his decision, granting Lomax’s request and citing the unique circumstances in his statement as to why.

“Obviously, we take commitments to the Shocker program very seriously, but this is a very unique situation where a young man’s mentor and coach since the 5th grade has become a Division I head coach,” Marshall said. “Allowing him out of his NLI without any penalty is the right thing to do.”

The National Letter of Intent, for those who may not be too familiar with it, is a document that when signed binds the recruit in question to the school they’ve committed to. If the circumstances surrounding the recruitment change, getting released from the NLI can be incredibly difficult. Coaches and universities have no obligation to release a recruit once they sign, and it seems like every year we run into a situation where a coach is refusing to so.

Kansas point guard Devonte’ Graham is only a senior this season because, after signing an NLI with Appalachian State, he was not given a release and forced to go to prep school for a year. That’s not as uncommon as you might think.

That is also perfectly within the bounds of the rules, if not the laws of being a decent human being.

Wichita State and Marshall could have taken this opportunity to make life miserable for Lomax, and there would have been those who rushed to say that since the young man made a commitment he should stick by it no matter what. Lomax was a noteworthy recruiting win for the program during its first season in the American Athletic Conference, as the Wichita State went into Memphis and landed a pledge from a prospect who was likely to be a key part of the program’s plans moving forward.

But the hit that comes with allowing Lomax to leave without fuss is far less severe than what happens if Wichita State and Marshall make things difficult for him.

Faced with the opportunity to do the right thing and help out a young player, Marshall and Wichita State did just that.

The program should, and will, be applauded for it.

Stevens’ 30 points leads Penn State past Marquette in NIT

Abbie Parr/Getty Images
1 Comment

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Lamar Stevens tied his career high with 30 points, Tony Carr added 25 and Penn State beat Marquette 85-80 on Tuesday night to advance to the NIT semifinals.

The Nittany Lions (24-13) will face either Mississippi State or Louisville at Madison Square Garden in New York on March 27. They advanced to the NIT semis for the first time since winning the 2009 tournament.

Stevens hit three crucial buckets in the final three minutes, including a dunk off an alley-oop pass from Josh Reaves for an eight-point lead with one minute left. The 6-foot-8 Stevens then maneuvered through a couple Marquette players to secure a rebound off Andrew Rowsey’s missed 3 with 46 seconds left.

Carr went 5 of 8 from the foul line over the final 30 seconds to give Marquette another chance. Rowsey hit a 3 and a layup to get the Golden Eagles as close as 83-80 with six seconds left before the Golden Eagles ran out of time.

Rowsey, a senior, scored 29 points for Marquette (21-14).

The Golden Eagles had whittled a 14-point deficit early in the second half to 72-68 with 2:39 left on three foul shots by Rowsey. Penn State went nearly three minutes without a bucket and got sloppy with the ball and the sharpshooting Golden Eagles started hitting 3s to get back in the game.

Report: Joseph Chartouny to transfer from Fordham

Al Bello/Getty Images
Leave a comment

After three seasons at Fordham, guard Joseph Chartouny will be leaving the school to play his final year elsewhere. News of Chartouny’s transfer was reported Tuesday afternoon by ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, and the 6-foot-3 guard from Montreal will be eligible immediately as a graduate transfer.

Chartouny made 28 starts for the Rams this season, averaging 12.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.3 steals in 36.0 minutes per game. Leading the nation in both total steals and steals per game, Chartouny was an Atlantic 10 All-Defensive Team selection.

In three seasons at Fordham Chartouny, the 2016 Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year, averaged 11.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 2.9 steals per game. Given his abilities as a defender and a distributor, Chartouny stands to be a popular player amongst programs looking to add an immediately eligible contributor who also has ample experience at the Division I level.

With Chartouny reportedly moving on, Fordham head coach Jeff Neubauer has a significant hole to fill in his backcourt rotation for 2018-19.

Transfers Antwon Portley (Saint Peters’s) and Erten Gazi (DePaul) will be eligible next season, with reserve Cavit Havsa set to be a junior next season. Fordham’s also landed three perimeter recruits in its 2018 class, with three-star point guard Nick Honor among that trio.