Culture / Sporting Life

Dick Vitale Goes Bonkers for DeJohn Jarreau, Still Dismisses Houston’s Chances of Beating Baylor

Jarreau's Run is Being Recognized for How Elite It Is, But the Cougars' Team Success is Being Largely Discounted

BY // 04.01.21

INDIANAPOLIS — There Dick Vitale is on SportsCenter, getting beyond excited about University of Houston guard DeJon Jarreau’s remarkable transformation. “DeJon Jarreau’s been unbelievable!” Vitale says/screams as only Dick Vitale can.

Of course, then moments later, Vitale predicts that Baylor will still beat Jarreau and Kelvin Sampson’s 28-3 Houston team rather easily and set up the Gonzaga-Baylor national championship game that so many seem to think is preordained.

OK, so Houston still may not be getting much national respect — with outlets from the USA Today (“We still don’t know how good the Cougars really are”) to Bleacher Report (“Houston will finally face challenges after historically easy Final Four path”) all but dismissing them. But at least, Jarreau is getting praise for the type of NCAA Tournament run that elite guards can go on in March.

You can add Jarreau’s name right alongside Mike Bibby, Shabazz Napier and other guards who raised their game to another level in the NCAA Tournament.

Dick Vitale NCAA
Dick Vitale loves University of Houston guard DeJon Jarreau. But he’s not at all bearish on the Cougars chances of beating Baylor in the Final Four.

DeJon Jarreau had a very good regular season for the Cougars. In March, he’s gone next level. He put up the first triple double in American Athletic Conference tournament history (15 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds) against Tulane, somehow scored 17 points while playing with a throbbing hip pointer in the epic comeback against Rutgers, made tournament darling Buddy Boeheim disappear into a 3 for 13 shooting hole in a romp over Syracuse. And, oh yeah, flirted with two more triple doubles in the Final Four clinching wins over Syracuse (9 points, 8 assists, 8 assists) and Oregon State (10 points, 8 assists, 8 rebounds) last weekend.

Jarreau’s controlled many of these March games, showcasing just how far he’s come as a point guard in his last season under Kelvin Sampson.

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“To see the growth in DeJon is incredible,” Houston athletic director Chris Pezman tells PaperCity. “When I first got here, we were working some stuff and to see him now. . .  The kids love him for the right reasons. You can see how much the other players respect him especially.

“It sounds corny, but in springtime, the azaleas trail is blooming. And DeJon, right now he’s blooming.”

Jarreau’s leadership has helped push Houston into the Final Four, a peak the program has not reach since it had one of the greatest basketball player of all time in Hakeem Olajuwon. Olajuwon was an all-time talent capable of averaging 20.5 points, 20 rebounds and 7.5 assists in the Final Four. This Houston team does not have a blinding all-time talent like that.

But it does have a senior guard who has lifted his game to another level — and made many things possible.

“That’s what college athletics is all about,” Pezman says. “You take a young person like DeJon and see how they grow over the years with a coach like Kelvin.”

Dick Vitale isn’t the only one who’s become enamored with DeJon Jarreau’s story. Major sports stars from Jarreau’s hometown of New Orleans — including Bucs tailback Leonard Fournette and New Orleans Saints superstar Alvin Kamara —  have given DeJon love on Twitter. And in text messages.

This is a college senior who is living his best life, making March his.

“We have business to accomplish,” Jarreau says. “We have a mission to accomplish.”

Dick Vitale is a believer — of the player, if not the team.

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