Published on November 29, 2017 at 11:40 pm Contact Eric: [email protected] | @esblack34 Facebook Twitter Google+ For a West Virginia boy whose goal was to play college basketball, turn pro and never have to work a day in his life, Jon Elmore was on his way.Before he started his last year of high school, he had already signed a letter-of-intent to the Virginia Military Institute. Then, as a George Washington High School senior, he averaged 31.4 points per game and won the Bill Evans award, which is given to West Virginia’s top high school player. It was the second Bill Evans award in the Elmore household. Gay Elmore, Jon’s father, had won it in 1982 before going on to set the all-time scoring record at VMI. Now, Elmore was set to follow in his father’s footsteps as the next great Keydet.Then, two weeks before his freshman season began, that dream had to be put on hold.Elmore’s grandfather, Otmer, was diagnosed with late stages of cancer. Paralysis started setting in for the patriarch of the Elmore family, and he was no longer able to perform daily functions. In the early 1960s, Otmer played basketball for West Virginia University and was a “larger-than-life” figure for Elmore and his older brother Ot, named after him. In order to care for their grandfather, Elmore and Ot, who had redshirted as a freshman the year before at VMI, withdrew from the school before ever playing a game.“I decided that (my grandfather) was bigger than school and basketball,” Elmore said. “I got to spend the final four months of my grandpa’s life with him every day, talking to him, taking care of him. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textFor the Marshall Thundering Herd, Elmore is averaging 24.6 points per game, good for 8th-best in the country, and eight assists per game, tied for fifth. After declaring for the NBA draft last summer and withdrawing to return to college, Elmore is the early-season leader for Conference USA player of the year. His success contrasts from how he began his career, off the court.Though he walked away from the college basketball spot he’d always wanted, he knew he had to continue playing basketball somewhere. He decided to enroll at Marshall, the closest Division-I school to his house in Charleston, West Virginia. For the next few months, he drove back and forth during the week from school to his home to stay with his grandfather.On his first day of class at Marshall, Elmore walked into head basketball coach Dan D’Antoni’s office, looking for a spot on the team. D’Antoni, who was in his first year at the helm of the Herd, knew Elmore as the former West Virginia prep player of the year, but he had never seen Elmore play before. VMI had signed Elmore before D’Antoni began recruiting for Marshall, so the former Herd point guard and NBA assistant coach was looking at other recruits.A few days later, D’Antoni gave Elmore a tryout, and he made the team. While he wasn’t eligible to play for the Herd until his first semester grades were posted, he began practicing with the team immediately.“I hadn’t even seen him play (a game) when I gave him a scholarship,” D’Antoni said. “I wasn’t worried about how he played, my emphasis was to find the best players in West Virginia. All of a sudden, you get a call from the state player of the year. He just jumped in our lap.”Stats and Ranks as of Nov. 29; Graphic by Andy Mendes | Digital Design EditorElmore’s hero growing up was Steve Nash, whom D’Antoni coached from 2005 to 2008 while serving as an assistant for the Phoenix Suns under his younger brother, Mike. With the D’Antoni style in place at Marshall, the Herd played a similar, “seven-seconds-or-less” kind of basketball that allowed Nash to become a two-time league MVP. The ability to play a similar role in the Marshall offense as Nash did with the Suns made Elmore feel comfortable, and it convinced him he could be successful there.Since he couldn’t play in any real games for the Herd until he was deemed eligible, he joined an intramural league because his friends from high school asked him to play on their team. Despite not playing in a game for about a year, Elmore, in one game, dropped 101 points.“It got a little hot that game,” Elmore said. “I probably could’ve thrown up a hook shot that game and it was going in. Just one of those days.”About a year later, after Elmore consistently practicing with the team and setting intramural league scoring records, his first semester’s grades were posted. On Dec. 14, 2015, he played his first real game in nearly a year and a half. In a 92-73 win over North Carolina Central, Elmore scored five points in 18 minutes. He started that game — and has done so ever since.“It showed that the coaching staff and team had faith in me,” Elmore said. “The hard work that I put in through the time that I wasn’t eligible was big. (I’ve) just kind of been running with it ever since.”Marshall, too, has been running ever since with Elmore leading the offense, finishing fourth in the country in pace in each of the past two seasons. Elmore flourished in the offense’s Nash role, averaging 15.2 points and 5.8 assists per game. After beginning the season 2-6 without him, Marshall finished the year 15-10, including a 12-6 record in conference play. Last year, Elmore raised his averages across the board, and he lead the conference in scoring en route to earning first-team all-conference honors.With his success as a sophomore, Elmore declared for the 2017 NBA draft to see what coaches thought of him and receive feedback on his game. He eventually withdrew his name from the pool and returned to Marshall, gathering valuable experience in doing so.“It was a cool process,” Elmore said. “You get to the point in life or in your job or in basketball where you think you know everything and you think you’re the best at it. This summer was big for me because I got outside opinions from a lot of people on what I can work on and get better.”The nuances of keeping his body healthy and prepared for an 82-game season, like eating right and lifting more, were the main takeaways for Elmore. Changing his body is something he’s done in the past, after cutting body fat last season. After being scolded by D’Antoni for his 16 percent body fat, he dropped to eight percent through changes in his diet.“It’s been fun,” said Ot. “It’s not much of a surprise. I knew coming out of high school that wherever he went, he was going to be one of the best players at that level and in college basketball.”Now, a handful of accolades and a possible professional career lays in front of Elmore. He understands that his journey hasn’t been easy or straight-forward, but, he said, he’s always had faith and worked hard, so he figured everything would be OK.“All the hardships and different paths that I’ve had to take to get where I’m at,” he said, “that’s a pretty cool story.” Comments
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThisMore than a thousand student artwork pieces will be featured in 50 Alpena and Ossineke businesses for Art Around Town between now and Sunday, May 20th.Facebook | https://www.facebook.com/WBKBTV/ Twitter | https://twitter.com/WBKB11 Instagram | https://www.instagram.com/wbkbtv/AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThisContinue ReadingPrevious ‘Flights of Imagination’ gets vandalized, againNext Besser Elementary Students Release Salmon into the Wild
DES MOINES — Governor Kim Reynolds spoke this morning with the task force she’s assembled to come up with a series of criminal justice reforms.The group’s first meeting comes in the same week as more than 400 inmates in Oklahoma were released after that state’s governor commuted their sentences. “I saw that and was just amazed at what was going on there,” Reynolds said Tuesday. “…We’re going to take a look at all of that.”In 2016, Oklahoma voters approved a referendum that reduced the sentences for simple drug possession and low-level property crimes. Oklahoma’s governor signed a bill earlier this year that retroactively reduced the sentences for those already in prison for those offenses.“There are a lot of states that are working on criminal justice reform, so let’s see what they’re doing. Let’s see what makes sense for Iowa, how we can take what they’ve done and adapt it to what we’re trying to do here for the State of Iowa,” Reynolds told reporters Tuesday, “and I’ve got a great group that have agreed to serve on this task force and I’m really looking forward to the recommendations that they make.”Reynolds expects the group to work for a while in developing proposals to deal with racial biases in the prison system. She’s asked the group to give her a set of recommendations in December that would help inmates who are paroled transition to life and get a job outside prison.“We just need to make sure that it’s balanced, that we never lose sight of the victims,” Reynolds said. “That’s always an important piece in this.”As hundreds of Oklahoma inmates this past Monday, officials said one of their goals was to ensure each had a state-issued ID or driver’s license — as identification is critical for job searches and finding a place to live.
160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! I live in a tract at Whittier Narrows. When things started to shake that morning, I was sitting at my kitchen table. I began to hear things crashing from shelves. My first thought was, “Not fair! I’ve been there, don’t do that!” You see, I was in Long Beach in 1933 for its much greater quake. I was 6 years old when our home was badly damaged and I was very scared. But this time, our cheap tract home with slab floors and drywall escaped undamaged except for fallen things from shelves. I don’t like earthquakes!