Advance all-stater Jack Below possesses a lot of qualities Three Rivers College men’s basketball coach Brian Bess likes.
Bess will get the opportunity to mold him into a college player because Below will walk-on to the TRC squad next season.
“I like that he can score. He has a really good mid-range, pull-up jumper,” Bess said. “He has a good basketball IQ and that’s because of his family. He’s been coached well. (Advance head coach) Bubba (Wheetley’s) a good coach and (Advance assistant) Paul Hale was on the bench last year. He’s a good coach.”
Below had considered walking on at the University of Mississippi.
“Ole Miss wasn’t working out,” Below said. “I was super excited when (the Raiders) said they would take me. … I’m excited. I’m ready to go. I feel like I’m a really good fit. Everybody was super nice. It’s going to be really cool.”
Below likes the idea of playing close to home.
“My family can come watch me,” he said. “My parents can definitely come to every game. It’ll be nice being that close. Being new to college, they’re close by if I need help with anything.”
Below will be following in the footsteps of his brother Lane, his grandfather Bill Morgan, his uncle Jason Below and cousin Terrance Below, who all played basketball at Three Rivers.
“You couldn’t ask for a better attitude,” Wheetley said in the spring. “He worked hard. He just had a knack for it. He had the talent and he’s got that winner in him. That was bred in him by his family. They all played. … He always loved to play. He’s just a good ballplayer.”
Below believes he can be a contributor.
“It’s definitely a lot tougher,” Below said of college basketball. “If I work hard, stay in the gym and keep working on my shot, it’ll be alright. I feel like I can do some good.”
Bess, who played with Jason during the 1990s, has watched Jack develop as a player for years.
“He used to come to my dad’s (Gene Bess’) camp,” Bess said. “He played a (prelim) game or two at Libla and I watched him at the Christmas tournament. … He needs to be a little stronger. His family knows that and he probably will.”
Below knows where he needs to improve, saying he’s drinking protein shakes and working in the weightroom this summer.
“It’s a big challenge. It’s exciting,” Below said. “Nothing’s going to be handed to me. I’ll have to work for everything down there.”
The Raiders won’t start their season until Jan. 21 at the earliest because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Below sees the delayed start to the season as an advantage.
“There will be more time to get ready, more time in the weightroom to get bigger,” he said.
During his senior year, Jack was named to the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association's Class 2 all-state squad after averaging 33 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 3.6 steals per game for the 23-5 Hornets.
The 6-foot-1 guard, who was a two-time SCAA player of the year, shot 69% from inside the arc, 37% from outside and 75% from the free throw line.
He scored 50 or more points in four games, including a season-high 61 in Advance’s 108-105 win over district champion Delta.
Below scored 40 or more points seven times and surpassed 30 points on 14 occasions, including 36 in the Hornets’ 63-61, come-from-behind win over a struggling Richland squad.
Below was a full-time starter for only his junior and senior seasons because the Hornets were loaded with talent during his freshman and sophomore years. Advance went 52-14 in those two seasons, including a final four appearance during his freshman season.
Below plans to earn a degree in agriculture and wants to get into crop scouting.
Kyle Smith - Dexter Statesman