Dec. 29, 2000
By: Jonathan Gust, Villanova Media Relations
One season ago, guard Jermaine Medley began his junior campaign struggling with his normally reliable shooting touch. Known around the Big East Conference for his deadly long-range shooting, Medley lost his starting position for nine games mid-way through the season, during which time he searched for his lost shot.
He cracked back into the starting lineup on Feb. 5 at Georgetown and wasted no time in showing all of his doubters that he can not only shoot the basketball, but could handle it just as well. Medley lit up the Hoyas for 13 points (on four-for-seven shooting from the three-point arch), to go along with four rebounds and seven assists in a 72-69 Wildcat victory. Taking over the starting point guard duties from that game forward, he ended the season averaging 10 points and four assists per game over the year's final 14 contests. Medley's fine play, together with a 9-5 record by Villanova down the stretch, set the stage for even higher expectations in 2000-01 for him and the `Cats.
Medley grew up in Wilmington, Del., following his older brother, William Harrison, to the playground every morning to watch him play basketball. Holding a great admiration for his brother's talent on the court, it did not take long for William's love for basketball to show itself in Jermaine.
"I never knew that I would become a Division I college basketball player," said Medley. "I could have sworn that my brother was going to be an NBA star. I used to watch him play everyday and he used to just kill people. I would say to myself that I wanted to do the same thing he was doing. I would follow him to the basketball court extra, extra early in the morning. He is a big influence on me and he may be the reason I am here today because I wanted to be just like him or better. It took my game to a whole other level."
After spending two seasons playing for Wilmington High School, Medley transferred to Oak Hill Academy for his senior season. He failed to miss a beat, averaging 15.9 points per game as a senior at Oak Hill. The colleges and universities came by the dozens to watch this prep star, who went on to receive honorable mention All-America honors from both McDonald's and Parade Magazine.
From Oak Hill Academy, Medley traveled to the Main Line to play for Villanova and head coach Steve Lappas. Starting in 23 of 29 games as a freshman, he scored over six points per game and eclipsed double digits in scoring six times on the season. One season later, Medley accepted the role of sixth man, coming off the bench to score six-plus points per game. His most exciting moment of the 1998-99 season came at the First Union Center, when he heaved a 30-footer at the buzzer to give the Wildcats a 93-90 double overtime win over Georgetown.
Times looked much more difficult for Medley at the start of the 1999-00 campaign, in a year he expected would be his breakout season. After beginning the year 14-for-53 from the field in the team's first 10 games, he was moved to the bench to try to work out his struggles.
"It was a rough part of the season," said Medley. "Mentally, I was out of it. I based everything around making shots. I took all the other aspects of the game and threw them out the door. I learned a lot from that experience. This year I come into a game knowing that I can do other things like play defense, make a nice pass, and then hit a big shot. I categorized my game in a completely wrong way. That was something I shouldn't have done as a basketball player, but you learn from those mistakes. I have moved on from it now."
Medley reclaimed a starting role on Feb. 5 versus Georgetown, this time as the Wildcats' starting point guard. Playing 34 minutes in a 72-69 victory, he torched the Hoyas with his shot and with the pass.
"I think that game was the lift," said Medley. "In that Georgetown game, I took everything in stride no matter what happened. That was the turning point. I felt comfortable, I was relaxed, and I was in the state of mind of playing basketball and not just shooting three's. I just wanted to help my team win."
The Georgetown game set Medley off in a zone that would last throughout the remainder of the 1999-00 season. In Villanova's last 14 contests, he shot three-pointers at a 46 percent clip (37-of-84). The Wildcats won nine of their final 14 games, falling just short of a NCAA Tournament berth.
"Coach Lappas has always believed in me, even when I was a freshman," said Medley. "That's good when you have a coach that always has confidence in you, and trusts you playing the point guard position. The point guard position is the pulse out there and keeps us going. Coach was a really big help in keeping my head level. He kept me focused. Coach was always talking to me and telling me 'don't worry about your shot, just keep shooting it.' - all the things that encourage me as a player."
Medley entered the 2000-01 season as a Villanova co-captain and the only senior starter on the Wildcat team. After three solid seasons on the Main Line, he seems to finally have put his critics to rest, showing that as the starting point guard, he can do so much more than just shoot the basketball.
"I know that there is going to be like a million people that love watching Jermaine Medley play, and there is probably going to be another two million that probably hate him," said Medley. You have just got to role with the punches. I am going to have good games and I am going to have bad games. But I know that I am going to have more good games than bad games."
"I have to be much more of a leader now instead of a follower," said Medley. "Now it is my job to calm guys down and dictate the pace of each game. I feel as though I am a good leader because I have a hunger for winning. I don't like to lose."
With Medley at the helm running the Villanova offense, it doesn't appear that the `Cats will lose much. He displayed throughout his first three seasons a shooting range that reaches well beyond the three-point line. Now he plans on showing the competition the rest of his game, it is just one more step in the evolution of a point guard.