Q&A: Get to know basketball star and former Pilot, Pooh Jeter
Ben Arthur |
Eugene “Pooh” Jeter attended the University of Portland from 2002-2006 and was a member of the men's basketball team. He played in the NBA D-league and overseas in Spain, Ukraine and Israel. In 2010, he signed with the Sacramento Kings. Last week, he sat down with Beacon sports reporter Ben Arthur:
How does it feel being back on The Bluff? I haven't been here in five years. The Pilot House is like a club on campus. It's amazing. Just seeing the new library, and seeing Beauchamp, it's incredible. When I was here from 2002-2006, the men’s basketball team locker room was small. Now they got TVs (in the locker room) and we didn't have that. We didn't have none of that. The training room to the weight room, like everything has changed and is going in the right direction for future students. I'm excited and so proud to see the improvements of this whole campus.
What is the reason for your visit? I was already gonna be out here for the Hoop Summit. Then Coach Porter gets hired and I was like, 'I'm on my way.' He got introduced (to the campus community) on Tuesday and I came on Thursday. Everything just lined up. Seeing my teammates and the people who took care of me while I was here. Being in Portland from 18 to 22, I grew up and matured here. I thank the city for accepting me and loving me.
What are your thoughts on the Terry Porter hire? I think he's going to do extremely well. I just hope that he connects with the players. They should be pumped up. Coach Porter is an NBA vet and did tremendous things and they should play hard because of what he brings. His relationship (is) not just to the city, but to the NBA ... I hope he changes the program. I really do because of the new facilities being made and all the upgrades at Portland, man, it's gonna match and I can imagine people would want to start coming because we're winning and not just on the court but off the court too.
What was your conversation with him like? His main thing is just connecting to the players. That's it. Once he has a trust from the players and the right formula to do the plays and the system, he should do well. But he has to continue to get the right people in. Hopefully, his staff will be able to recruit everywhere. He's already connected to the city. I heard that maybe 400 people were here at the press conference? That's huge. That says something right there. That was our conversation. Just that he's excited about the opportunity, he just needs to continue to have that relationship with the players to continue to make them play hard for the name on their chest, not the ones on the back. It's not too much on Coach Porter. His job is to make sure they're ready, but it’s on the players to do their job. He just has to motivate them.
What was your experience at UP going from a predominately black high school to a predominately white university? It prepared me for life. The culture shock, you know, it woke me up. It was shock that I needed to realize, 'Hey, this is preparing you for something.' That preparation prepared me for Ukraine, Spain, Israel, China, just for everything. I didn't just see myself as the only black student in class. Me being who I am, we were one. (The students) knew me because I played basketball, but everybody accepted me. Each and every student here showed me so much love. That's what I love about Portland. That prepared me to be the only black on my team in my professional life so I thank Portland for that.
What were your favorite memories on the court? Off-the-court? My favorite memory was beating Gonzaga at Gonzaga my freshman year. We were the last team to beat Gonzaga at their place in 2002 ... (also) beating Nevado-Reno here, playing at Duke and at UCLA. Going back home and scoring a buzzer-beater on Long Beach State. Or going home and playing against LMU and Pepperdine, with family getting to see me, my best friends jumping. On campus, the Luau had the best food. Just being at the Pilot house, man, the Cove was my family. Just talking about Portland and reminiscing and seeing where I'm at now man, it's like emotional. (UP Athletics) did a lot for me. I did some things for them too, but they did a lot for me to help me with my growth.
How would your best team at UP fare against the current squad? Ah man, we would get them. We'd beat all the Pilot teams. They would say the same thing to me. We had a squad, we had a good team. My best team was probably my senior year. We had a good team, but we just couldn't compete against everyone else. We just didn't have that togetherness against other teams.
If you could play 2v2 with any of the current players on the current Pilots team as a teammate, who would you choose? I would want to go against Al (Wintering). Even though it's heart over height, I'd want to compete against him. It could me and Jason Brough. Or me and you. It don't matter. As long as we're competing. I'd want to go against Al for sure though.
What does mean to be one of the few Pilots to have played in the NBA? I used to look in the media book and look at the Darwin Cook's and the Jose Slaughter's and Ravio and those players who had a chance. It took some time. I had to go a different route, but I ended up being there and I remember coming back to the school when I was a (Sacramento) King and they had Nacho night against Saint Mary's. That's when it really hit me. Like, 'Wow, I'm in the NBA,' because I was looking at the steps. I use to be on the Chiles court everyday to get to this point where I'm at now. It took five years, but I've got here. Blood, sweat, and tears in this place. This is my home. Seeing Adam Morrison at the time, from Gonzaga, he was in there. Playing against him and seeing John Stockton when we played at Utah. And then Steve Nash who was at Santa Clara. We still cool to this day. Maybe it is because of the WCC connection, but it was a great moment to be able to represent Portland. God found a way to get me in the NBA.
Contact Sports Reporter Ben Arthur by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @KingArthur_425.