Posted: 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014

Gee undertaking Longwood restoration



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Gee undertaking Longwood restoration photo
Jason Gee
Gee undertaking Longwood restoration photo
Jason Gee is in his first season as the men’s basketball head coach at Longwood (Va.) University. RED ROCKET PHOTOS
Gee undertaking Longwood restoration photo
Jason Gee is in his first season as the men’s basketball head coach at Longwood (Va.) University. RED ROCKET PHOTOS
Gee undertaking Longwood restoration photo
Jason Gee is in his first season as the men’s basketball head coach at Longwood (Va.) University. RED ROCKET PHOTOS

By Marc F. Pendleton

Staff Writer

No knock on Navistar, but the Springfield-anchored commercial truck giant was all the incentive that Jayson Gee needed to leave town.

“When I grew up it was all about Navistar,” recalled the former Springfield South High School basketball standout. “If you were going to be successful, you were going to go to the (Navistar) shop.

“That’s my motivation to continue to do well. To show that you can come from that community, where there is very little African-American white-collar workers. Obviously, (my) being a first-generation college student, it can happen for Springfield.”

Like Springfield North grad Randy Ayers before him, Gee has climbed to the highest peak of college coaching. He’s midway through yet another rebuilding task, this time as the head coach of Longwood University in Virginia, in its infancy as an NCAA Division I program.

Already Cleveland State’s associate head coach, the 1984 South grad was intent on becoming the Vikings’ main man following a distinguished run with the Vikings. That all changed when head coach Gary Waters signed a seven-year contract extension “that he certainly deserved and earned,” Gee said this past week. “I will have to admit that my antennas (for a new coaching position) went up a lot stronger after that.”

Gee previously had been part of two restorations, first as a player, then head coach at D-II Charleston (W.Va.), then at Cleveland State.

In both those assignments, the team was last in its conference the first year, second place the following season and finally a champion in the third year.

That’s where Gee, 48, finds himself at Longwood, a Big South Conference member and a D-I program since 2007. The Lancers took a 5-11 overall record into Saturday’s conference game against visiting Campbell (N.C.).

An 82-79 victory at TCU (9-5) in the season’s second game was encouraging, if short-lived.

“It was the first time we had beaten a BCS-caliber opponent, which gave us an example of maybe our potential,” Gee said. “But certainly we haven’t been able to sustain that on a consistent basis.”

Gee has always worked the Miami Valley hard in recruiting. Landing Dunbar recruits has been especially lucrative.

Dunbar grads Norris Cole, a key sub at point guard for the Miami Heat, and Aaron Pogue were key personnel in Cleveland State’s lineup.

Damarion Geter, a 2013 Dunbar grad, was the first player Gee signed to come to Longwood.

“The biggest (recruiting) drawing card that I had in my career was in the Miami Valley,” Gee said. “I didn’t stop when I got the (Longwood) job.”

Gee has kept up with the merger of North and South high schools. He was responsible for landing current Springfield coach Isaiah Carson at St. Bonaventure following his decorated South career as a player..

“There are some things that I took from Springfield. No. 1, the toughness and the pride that I developed playing for Wayne Wiseman and Springfield South and that culture,” Gee said.

“It’s taken Isaiah some time, but I think he’s recreating that. I think he’s the perfect guy for the job and I heavily endorse him. I knew that he would bring back the kind of pride and enthusiasm that was consistent for what it was when I was in school.”


JASON GEE

Age: 48

High school: South, 1984

College: Charleston (W.Va.)

Head coach: Longwood (Va.) men’s basketball

 
 

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