Father and son: The name is Jarrod West
SHEPHERDTOWN — Very little was known about Jarrod West, when he came from Natchez, Miss. to play basketball for West Virginia in the late 1990s.
He had not made much of a splash in his home state, and at 5-foot-11, he didn’t cast much of a shadow in the spacious Coliseum.
He was personable and equal parts friendly and talkative. His academic record was such that he was named to the Big East all-academic team for three years.
Yet his on-court moments didn’t conjure images of Jerry West, Hot Rod Hundley or even Lee Patrone.
Then came West Virginia’s NCAA tournament game in 1998 against Cincinnati. The winner would advance on to the Sweet 16.
As the game raged on, it became evident it was going to be won after a dogged struggle by two teams that were going to be in each other’s face for 40 minutes or even longer.
Cincinnati’s last basket had it ahead by the slimmest of margins; and now the game clock was at its end.
Jarrod scrambled past a teammate’s screen and launched a hold-your-breath shot from just above the top of the lane. His shot could have been misdirected, because it was touched by a lengthy Bearcat player.
But Jarrod’s career-making shot-attempt hit the glass backboard just above the rim . . . and went in . . . giving the underdog Mountaineers a victory and Jarrod the most notoriety he gained in his entire career.
Jarrod completed his WVU days with 700 points in his four seasons, with 349 of those points coming in his senior year, when he averaged 10.6 points a game.
Now the long-time basketball coach at Notre Dame High School in Clarksburg, he helped the Fighting Irish to the state championship in 2017, with a 63-55 win over Ravenswood.
Probably the most effective player on that 2017 state champion team was none other than Jarrod West’s 5-foot-11 son, guard Jarrod West, Jr.
Jarrod Jr. continued his basketball career at Marshall, where he is now a senior with the Thundering Herd, a team that had a 12-5 overall record by the time the disjointed season reached last weekend.
As a freshman at Marshall, Jarrod Jr. averaged 7.8 points a game, and then 5.6 as a sophomore. His scoring soared in 2020, when he averaged 14.2, and now he’s at 13.6 in The Herd’s first 17 games of 2020-2021.
His 29 points in a recent win in the Henderson Center over the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders were his season and career highs.
There was another NCAA Tournament game that might not make the West family highlight reel; that one was played in San Diego in mid-March of 2018. Jarrod Sr.’s Notre Dame team had just lost in the state tournament, but his son’s Marshall team was playing West Virginia in two days. Jarrod Sr. and his wife flew to San Diego to see Jarrod Jr. and his Herd teammates face the Mountaineers.
It was not a memory to be tucked away in any scrapbook or smile-filled memory bank.
West Virginia won easily, 94-71, and Jarrod Jr. played 32 minutes without a field goal and totaled just two points.
That loss left Marshall with a 25-11 overall record and had the Mountaineers carrying a 26-10 record into the tournament’s next round.
Here at the close of February, Marshall is challenging for one of the 68 berths in this season’s NCAA Tournament and WVU is all but guaranteed a place in the field.
Jarrod Sr. is still on the Notre Dame sideline, his bank shot safe in the minds of “Mountaineers everywhere.” Jarrod Jr. is still making headlines, and still giving the people at Marshall his hustling skills, as the Thundering Herd aims at the NCAA Tournament.