Jarred Houston’s high school coaches almost cut him during his freshman season. He now leads the conference in multiple categories as a 6’10” center on the men’s basketball team.
“I had my end of year meeting with my freshman coach, and he told me they were planning on cutting me,” Houston said in an interview. “But they needed height on the freshman team, so they kept me. I think that is a valid point. I wasn’t great at basketball until I developed more into my own body and worked on my game more and more.”
Houston, a sophomore for the Lions, leads the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference in field goal percentage at 68.5 percent, is third in total rebounds with 172, and leads the conference in blocks with two per game.
Before arriving on campus, Houston transferred from Norwood High School to Beaver Country Day in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Houston said Beaver Country Day helped improve his chances of getting into a better school.
“I wouldn’t have gotten into Emerson if I continued in the route that I was on,” Houston said.
Head coach Bill Curley said the coaching staff saw potential in Houston during the recruiting process.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have landed him as a recruit,” Curley said in an interview. “We saw him being the big center point of what we wanted to do.”
On Jan. 6, Houston won the NEWMAC Defensive Player of the Week award for his performance against Nichols College. Houston scored 21 points, grabbed 16 rebounds, blocked three shots, and recorded four assists. Houston scored at least 13 points in the nine games since then, and he leads the team in rebounding during conference play.
Curley said Houston’s ability to protect the paint and rebound, along with his competitiveness and fierce drive for success, proved he could name Houston a team captain in his sophomore year.
“I think he is a very good leader,” Curley said. “We can have conversations with him as a coaching staff, and he can pass those along as a captain as a sophomore. I think that shows what his leadership qualities bring and the fact that his peers voted for him and we were on board as well.”
Sophomore guard Trevor McLean said he already knew about Houston’s leadership abilities before arriving at Emerson because they played against each other in Amateur Athletic Union basketball. McLean said Houston and the rest of the Lions have a bright future.
“The success we’ve had this year shows that we haven’t reached our potential yet,” McLean said in an interview. “The sky’s the limit, and Jarred is going to continue to get better and better.”
When McLean and Houston roomed together last year, McLean woke up Houston when he ran late for practice.
“I had to run all the way upstairs in full practice gear to get Jarred up,” McLean said. “We made it down in two minutes. Jarred made it into the locker room, got his shoes tied, he got all dressed, and he was basically playing asleep,” McLean said. “But that just shows his transformational character. He’s a lot more mature this year, and he knows he has that responsibility.”
As Houston progresses, Curley said the team will as well.
“His maturity, and the way the team has matured, has been tremendous,” Curley said. “It’s a great group of kids, and it starts with the big guy.”