By Rob Potter
LOCH SHELDRAKE When he visited the campus of Utah State in Logan, Utah last weekend, Marvin Jean quickly decided that’s where he wanted to spend the next two years in Big Blue country.
On Wednesday night at the Paul Gerry Fieldhouse on the SUNY Sullivan campus in Loch Sheldrake, he made that decision official. Jean, who played for the SUNY Sullivan Generals basketball team for the past two seasons, signed a national letter of intent to play for Utah State, a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I team.
“I liked meeting the [Utah State] players, coaches and seeing the campus, it is so beautiful there,” Jean said. “I felt like Utah State was the right place for me.”
Utah State, a member of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), finished 21-16 during the 2011-2012 season and lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Kansas State. The Aggies have been a dominating team at home, going 211-18 in its last 14 seasons.
Jean, a 6-foot-5 swingman, received interest from other Div. I schools, including Coppin State, Hampton and Norfolk State. All three of those schools play in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). He joins a deep class of newcomers that includes Spencer Butterfield, the California Junior College Co-Player of the Year and Matt Lopez a 7-foot transfer from LaSalle.
“I’m excited about playing at Utah State,” Jean said. “I’ll be playing the 3-guard. Coach [Stew] Morrill has already told me he wants me to shoot the ball and lock down the guy I’m guarding.
“It’s a great opportunity, but I know I need to improve my game,” Jean added. “I will be working hard this summer to get better.”
Jean, who is from Harriman, noted that all of his coaches and teammates have helped him reach this point.
“It started when I played AAU basketball for the 15-and-under Orange County Crusaders in Monroe,” he explained. “The coaches were Paul Murphy and Terry McPike, who first taught me the game. When I played for the B.C. Eagles, an 18-under-team, my coach was Bobby Rahn. We played tournaments all over and had some games against 19-and-under teams.”
Jean graduated from Monroe-Woodbury High School in 2010. While there, he played on the JV basketball team as a freshman and on the varsity in his sophomore, junior and senior years.
He then went to Mount Zion Academy in Durham, N.C. for one year. One of his teammates on the Mount Zion squad was Cleanthony Early, who would become one of Jean’s teammates at SUNY Sullivan.
Jean noted that since Duke University is only about five or 10 minutes away from Mount Zion Academy, their coaches would often take the team members to the Duke campus so they could run on outdoor trails and the steps of the football stadium as part of a conditioning program.
But Jean and Anthony went further in their training.
“Everyday that summer, Cleanthony and I ran those stadium steps to get in better shape,” Jean said.
After graduating from Mount Zion, Jean was planning to play basketball at Polk State College, a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Div. I school in Florida. But those plans changed when the Polk State coach recruited another player to take the roster spot Jean would have had.
But Jean wasn’t without a team for long. SUNY Sullivan Coach Kevin DeVantier called Jean to talk with him about coming to the school.
Jean was immediately interested in playing for the Generals.
“I liked the winning tradition here at Sullivan,” Jean commented. “And Cleanthony was here and I knew another player, Jordan Thorpe, as well.”
So Jean enrolled at SUNY Sullivan in the fall of 2010 and became a member of the Generals’ basketball team. And he certainly made an impact in his two seasons with the squad.
“He has been tremendous for us,” DeVantier said. “He was part of a team that won 59 games over two years. He did a lot of great things on the court and was an outstanding player. He definitely be missed next season.”
In his 67-game career at SUNY Sullivan, Jean averaged 14.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. He also made 150 3-point shots in those two years.
Jean is ninth on the Generals’ list of all-time scorers with 919 points. Two of his teammates, Early and Frankie Drayton, also finished their careers among the school’s top 10 all-time scorers. Early ranks first with 1,475 points and Drayton is 10th with 909 points.
DeVantier is confident Jean will do well at Utah State.
“Marvin is very athletic, he’s lenghty, can lock down on the player he is guarding and is a great outside shooter,” DeVantier commented. “I think Utah State is a great fit for him.
“I think once kids visit the campus, they know it will be a good fit for them,” DeVantier continued. When Marvin was at Utah State, he knew it was the right place.”
While he is looking forward to playing at the NCAA Div. 1 level, Jean is pleased with his career at Sullivan.
“I wanted to come here and win a national championship,” he said. “That didn’t work out, but it was still a great run.”
Next month, the 21-year-old will graduate from SUNY Sullivan with an associates degree in Sports Management. He plans to major in Sports Management through Business at Utah State.
Jean’s ultimate career goal is to play in the NBA, but if that doesn’t happen he has a back up plan. He would like work in the sports management field, possibly as a sports agent.
For now, Jean is concentrating on the next chapter in his academic and athletic career. And he is very thankful for the opportunity.
“First off, I thank God, my family, especially my parents [Eva and Pierre Jean] and four brothers [Fancliff, Lawrence, Stephan and Jason Jean] at home in Harriman, my friends and all of my teammates and coaches,” Jean said.
Jean is the second Generals’ player who will be playing for an NCAA Div. I program next season. Back in November, Early signed with Wichita State University.
“To have two players from a non-scholarship junior college like ours sign with Division I programs is fantastic,” DeVantier said.
ABOUT UTAH STATE
Location: Logan, Utah
Enrollment: 28,994 (undergraduate and graduate)
Conference: Western Athletic Conference
Head coach: Stew Morrill (14th season)
Home arena: Dee Glen Smith Spectrum (10,270)
2011-2012 record: 21-16 (lost in 1st round of NCAA tournament to Kansas State)
NCAA Tourney history: 20 appearances; Elite Eight (1939); Sweet Sixteen (1962, 1964, 1970)
NBA alumni: Larry Bunce, Bert Cook, Pat Dunn, Hal Hale, Shaler Halimon, Glenn Hansen, Ariel Maughan, Desmond Penigar, Marv Roberts, Nate Williams.