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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Men's Basketball

Guard finds consistency after rough early season


Sophomore DeJon Jarreau had a hard start to this season. Despite his struggles, he has become one of the most important pieces off the bench. | Kathryn Lenihan/ The Cougar

For collegiate athletes, the start of a season is already hard. Dealing with practices and classes can tire even the most hard-working athletes. Some, like redshirt sophomore guard DeJon “Deeky” Jarreau, have outside factors that make a season much harder.

Jarreau’s season started off on a bad foot, which can be considered an immense understatement. He suffered the loss of his grandmother and his cousin in the middle of his first semester at UH not long before the season started.

Jarreau had a loving and close relationship with his grandmother. He saw her often while in Louisiana, and he continued to talk to her frequently even after starting his collegiate career at the University of Massachusetts and eventually transferring to UH. The news of her passing devastated the young guard.

The additional loss of his cousin made for a difficult beginning of the season.

Unfortunately for Jarreau, the start of his season had more obstacles in store. He participated in the Cougars’ season opener, but then missed almost a month of games due to a variety of issues.

“He’s had a tough year, he’s battled through a lot of personal adversity that we’ve been through together with him,” said head coach Kelvin Sampson. “He’s had to learn how to play winning basketball.”

After he violated a team rule that Sampson refused to reveal, he missed his first chunk of time from the team.

After Jarreau served his time, he still had to remain out because of a finger injury he suffered while going up for a rebound. Several weeks later, he bruised his knee and missed the team’s game against Oklahoma State.

After struggling with all of these problems for months, Jarreau was finally able to return to the court. On Dec. 12, Jarreau played against LSU, his first game since the opener. He had a rough performance, as he only played three minutes and turned the ball over twice, but it was a cathartic moment for a young man that had to struggle through so much personal turmoil earlier in the season.

Since then, Jarreau has become a key piece to the Cougars’ rotation and success so far. He is averaging eight points in almost 18 minutes per game. In his most recent game against Temple, he played 28 minutes and picked up his first career double-double for UH with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

“He had a confidence about himself to absorb everything that was going on,” said senior guard Corey Davis Jr. “He’s learning under Coach Sampson, Galen and myself and taking bits and pieces and adapting.”

Jarreau adds to one of the best groups of backcourt players in the AAC. His ability to handle the ball and get to the basket is one of the most important skills he brings to the team. The coaching staff has confidence in him to run the offense in certain sets and isolation plays.

After being around him for all of his struggles early in the season, his team and coaches are happy and proud of his performance and ability to fight through his sadness. They created a support group around him and helped him move on from his devastating loss. The team is now benefiting with strong and passionate performances by its young guard.

“It was very tough, because I sat out all of last year and I was looking forward to the first couple of games and overcoming all the things I’ve been through,” Jarreau said. “To not be able to start the season off with my team was very hard, but like I said before, my teammates always have my back.”

DeJon Jerreau’s difficulties this season are an example of the highs and lows a student athlete can go through. But with the support of his teammates and coaches, Jarreau has been able to work through his struggles and become an important part of a historically good UH team.

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