When Jason Detrick arrived at Southwest Missouri State University-West Plains (now Missouri State University-West Plains) in 1999, the young Grizzly Basketball program was already building a reputation for producing quality NCAA Division I level players. By the time he left in 2001, Detrick took that reputation to a whole new level.
“He was the first high-profile player from our program who made the jump to a major Division I basketball program,” former Grizzly Basketball play-by-play announcer Jay Gentry said of the 6-5 forward from Newport News, Va., whose recruitment by Kelvin Sampson and the University of Oklahoma put Grizzly Basketball on the national map in the eyes of basketball fans.
In the years prior to Detrick’s arrival, the Grizzlies had received some national recognition, thanks to such players as Eric Judd (a 2004 Grizzly Hall of Fame inductee) and Allen Phillips, who reached the NCAA Sweet 16 as SMSU Bears, as well as other Grizzlies who went to D-I programs, Gentry explained, “but Jason gave us coast-to-coast recognition.”
Detrick came to SMSU-WP after a stellar career at Woodside High School in Newport News, Va. Under the tutelage of Coach Craig Davis, Detrick became an offensive powerhouse, earning first-team all-district honors and lettering in the sport three consecutive years.
But it was at SMSU-WP where Detrick, known for his slashing drives to the basket, developed into the high-impact, all-around collegiate player who would help lead the Sooners to two consecutive Big 12 Conference championships and an NCAA Final Four appearance in 2002. “He was one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen,” Grizzly Basketball color commentator Dean Smith said. “He would ask questions about what he could do to improve. He always wanted to improve. As a result, I think he is one of the five best players in Grizzly Basketball history.”
The Grizzly record books prove that fact. Detrick is first in career points (1,084), first in career scoring average (16.9 points a game), first in career free throws made (297), first in points scored in a season (735 in 00/01), first in scoring average for a season (23 points per game in 00/01), and first in free throws made in a season (196 in 00/01). He is tied for first in most points scored in a game (38), he is second in most free throws made in a game (18), he is tied for second in most three point field goals made in a game (7), and he is third in career free throw shooting percentage (79.8).
His efforts during his sophomore season, during which he averaged 23 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.2 steals per contest, earned him Region 16 Player of the Year honors, first-team All-American honors from the National Junior College Athletic Association and the attention of coaches from such universities as Oklahoma, Michigan State, Illinois, Mississippi and Colorado.
Detrick credits the SMSU-WP coaching staff for helping him become a top-notch collegiate player. “Coach Tom Barr and Coach Robert Guster taught me about hard work. They taught me that things don’t come easy. If you want to be successful, you have to work hard at it,” he said.
That lesson paid off at Oklahoma, where he was an Associated Press honorable mention selection on the All-Big 12 team in 2003-04 and the team’s captain his senior year. He also earned the team’s Leadership, Outstanding Senior and Outstanding Player awards in 2003-04 and was named to the Big 12’s All-Underrated Team while averaging a team-leading 11.4 points per game.
Detrick, who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in May 2004 with a bachelor of science degree in African-American studies, is currently using his skills to guide the MPC Capitals of Groningen, Holland, through the competition of the FIBA Europe, a professional basketball league. “We’re doing all right,” he said of his new team. “Everyone is getting healthy again, so we should be good this season.”
But he still has a soft spot for SMSU-WP and the community. “West Plains is one of my special places. It means a lot to me. My teammates and I are a close group. We still keep in touch. And my Adopt-A-Player family, Scott and Judy McWilliams, they’re like my parents. They’ve blessed me so much,” he said.
“I just want to thank everyone for selecting me and everyone who helped me along the way – my coaches, my teammates, the faculty and my advisers. And, I want to thank everyone who watched us play and came out to support us. You all mean a lot to me.”