At least Purdue won’t have to worry about keeping new basketball signee Jason Smith eligible. Whether he can run the offense or not is another story.
On the first day of the early signing period for high school basketball players, Purdue used their one available scholarship to sign Yorktown High’s 5-foot-6, 128 pound Jason Smith, an honor student who has never played competitive basketball in his entire life.
Purdue had intended to sign Yorktown’s OTHER Jason Smith, a 6’6” 215 lb. point guard who averaged 26 points and 11 assists per game last season. This Jason was named to Blue Chip Magazine’s Top 50 players in the nation.
It seems the mix up occurred in the counselor’s office Wednesday morning when the latter Jason’s scholarship papers arrived via FedEx. Counselor Edith Woodrow mistakenly thought the documents were applications that needed to be signed and returned by the non-athletic Jason to apply for Purdue’s Sallie Mae Fund Scholarship Program, which assists low-income students with tuition and fees.
Adding to the confusion is that both Jasons share the same middle initial, “P”. Nerdy Jason’s middle name is “Parker”, while athletic Jason’s is “Paul”.
The Boilermakers have a serious problem on their hands. They cannot force Jason Parker Smith to give up the scholarship without facing a great deal of bad publicity for cutting a player who has not violated team rules, and the young man does not plan on giving it up voluntarily.
“I don’t feel bad at all about keeping the scholarship. I have studied hard my whole life (earning a 3.8 GPA at Yorktown). I am captain of the academic team, student council secretary, member of the chess club, and play the flute in the marching band and all I was looking at was getting a lousy couple thousand dollars of my school paid for with academic scholarships. The other Jason gets a 2.5 GPA and the NCAA minimum score on his SAT and he gets a full ride because he can run fast and put a stupid orange ball in a hoop. It looks like Coach Keady is going to be stuck with me for four years.”
Gene Keady was not available for comment. Assistant coach Cuonzo Martin was reached, and said, “Technically, we can’t get rid of the kid, but to stay on the team he is going to have to do everything all the other players do; practice, lift weights, run, watch tape. He also has to keep his nose clean and stay out of trouble.”
“That shouldn’t be a problem,” says Jason Parker’s mother, Debbie, “J.P. has always been a good boy. He never has a bad thing to say about anyone and always works hard at everything he does. His scout leader said he is one of the finest young men he has ever known.”
Don’t feel too sorry for the other Jason. After news broke that Purdue would not be signing Jason Paul Smith, several colleges offered him basketball scholarships. “I don’t really care where I go. All roads lead to the NBA.” He will be attending UNLV next fall.