We’re going to miss Jarrod West.Let’s count the ways.
Marshall University fans will miss his tenacity and bulldog mentality. We’ll miss his smile that could light up the Cam Henderson Center. We’ll miss his leadership and how he led by example. We’ll miss his ferocity and fearlessness. We’ll miss his unrelenting positive attitude. We’ll miss his abject refusal to admit defeat.
We’ll miss the 5-foot-10 point guard a lot, now that he has chosen to chase his NBA dream by joining the University of Louisville’s program for his final year of college eligibility.
Should anybody fault or second-guess West’s decision?
Everybody deserves to chase their dream. I certainly chased mine. Thundering Herd coach Danny D’Antoni chased his. So why not West?
Goodness knows he earned that opportunity for the indefatigable body of work he turned in during the last four years.
“I just feel it has been ingrained in me, honestly, from an early age,” said West. I didn’t get to see my dad [Jarrod Sr.] play [at WVU], obviously, but I watched some of his games, his old games, I’ve seen some [video] clips.
“And if you watch him play, especially his senior year, you see some similarities on the defensive end. Like he was picking up full-court. You could tell there was a chip on his shoulder. He took it as a challenge. It was a pride situation for him as well. And I feel like he just kind of passed that down to me and my brother at an early age.”
That had to be the mindset of the West men. After all, basketball is a height-driven sport, and none of the Wests reached 6-feet tall.
“Knowing that we probably weren’t going to be the biggest guys,” said the younger Jarrod, “you’ve got to be able to defend your position. But you also have to make a difference in defending your position.
“It’s not always good enough to keep your guy in front and make him take tough shots. Which is good defense, but sometimes ... he was basically saying that you’ve got to be different to get to the level that you want to be at.”
Ah yes, the level.
The Wests always have been all about that. For Jarrod Sr. it meant coming from Natchez, Mississippi, and carving out a niche for himself in West Virginia University’s basketball program as the Mountaineers’ starting point guard.
As a senior, the elder West hit a deep 3-pointer in the final seconds of the 1998 NCAA Tournament to give WVU a win over the Bob Huggins-coached University of Cincinnati Bearcats.
West started all 33 games that season, averaging 10.6 points, 4.1 assists and 2.3 rebounds while shooting 38.5% overall, 36.1% on 3-pointers and 70.7% on free throws.
If those statistics sound similar to young Jarrod’s 2020-21 numbers (12.5 points, 6.0 assists, 40.8% 3-point shooting), it’s not coincidental.
It’s who the Wests are.
“At the end of the day, that mentality has kind of been ingrained in me from day one,” said the younger Jarrod. “I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder. I’ve always felt like I had something to prove, and I’ve always liked the challenge.
“And not just on the defensive end, honestly, but offensively, too. Just winning games, tough games, big-time games, stuff like that. Overall, that mentality is just kind of something that I’ve always lived by. Nothing easy. Everything you get, you’ve got to earn.”
That is the mantra Jarrod Sr. taught his sons, Jarrod and Jaidyn.
“A lot of that was because of my family and my parents and how they raised me,” said young Jarrod. “They didn’t let me slide by. They held me accountable for a lot, and they made me earn everything I got.
“That mentality has been with me for pretty much my whole life, as far back as I can remember, and I feel like it starts with my parents and my dad, especially, when it comes to basketball.”
Just one more thing before West rides off into the Louisville sunset: He spoke earlier about how he never saw his father play college hoops.
Well, I did.
I covered WVU basketball in those days and I am here to testify that young Jarrod plays exactly like his namesake. Same hard-nosed attitude. Same relentlessness. Same DNA.
There is only one difference.
Young Jarrod was a little bit stronger, a little bit bigger and a little bit better than his dad.
Isn’t that what every father wants for his son?