Basketball bonds: Hoops have tied Utah star Jordan Loveridge and his dad together
Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — In two seasons at the University of Utah, Jordan Loveridge has taken 702 shots.
It’s a mere sample size when it comes to the volume of attempts the sophomore forward has made over the years. He’s done so with the help of his father, Bill, who chases down the balls and passes them back to the shooter.
Jordan said it’s been that way for a long time.
“Even when I couldn’t make shots when I was young he would always shag balls for me,” he explained.
And, as fathers are prone to do, there’s always some accompanying advice.
“He’s my biggest critic and he’s my biggest fan,” Jordan said. “He’ll just make sure if I’m slacking on something, or if he sees just a little thing he’s always going to make sure I know.”
The frankness is something Jordan appreciates hearing from his father.
“Some people only tell you the good things or things you want to hear. But he’ll pretty much tell what it really is — the good and the bad,” Jordan said. “That’s just helped me so much.”
Getting together hasn’t always been convenient. However, despite Bill’s graveyard shifts at work, they’ve found ways to get it done. When Jordan was attending West Jordan High School, Bill would awaken his son and they would meet at the Gene Fullmer Recreation Center. The meetings then shifted to the U.
“There’s been a lot of mornings that those guys have been in the gym shooting. They’ve done that for a few years. So it’s cool,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “It’s not a normal situation in college where parents can be around and be a part of it because most of the kids aren’t from here. But it’s pretty inspirational I think.”
Bill, though, downplays it. He and his wife, Latrill, have always felt that it was very important to be in their kids’ lives and do the right thing.
“I just think that’s what you’re supposed to do,” Bill said. “I don’t think it’s anything special. To us, family is really important.”
It forged the bond that Bill and Jordan currently share. Although Bill never played high school or college basketball, he was a talented player who had opportunities in the now defunct Continental Basketball Association and beyond. However, things changed when Jordan was born.
“It was kind of one of those things where you have to make a decision,” Bill said. “Do you want to chase the dream or do you want to be home and start the family. So I chose to start the family.”
His decision to do so means a lot to Jordan. It’s also special that his father would find a way around his crazy work schedules to be in the gym with him instead of getting some rest.
“Basketball has always been a love of mine and a love of his — whether we’re watching games or playing and most recently, in the last few years, just trying to help him develop to reach some of his goals that he tries to go after,” Bill said. “It would be hard to describe to anybody else — unless you’re in that situation — how proud you are.”
After being named the state’s Mr. Basketball by the Deseret News in 2012, Jordan moved on from West Jordan to average 12.1 points per game as a freshman at Utah. He upped his scoring to 15.1 this season as the Utes won 20 games and posted their first winning season since 2008-09. They’ll meet Washington in the Pac-12 tournament Wednesday.
“You get more used to the players, the speed and the strength,” Jordan said of his transformation to the college game. “You learn what your body needs to be like, what you need to do every day to play in this league.”
One thing that has made his sophomore season even more smooth is a 25-pound weight loss. The 6-foot-6 Loveridge is down to 217 pounds after joining his father, who was diagnosed with diabetes last spring, in dropping some weight. They decided it would be easier to do together.
While Bill got more active and starting eating better, Jordan worked closely with Utah’s strength and conditioning coaches. Jordan said he feels a lot better, his knees are not as sore, and it’s made a huge difference.
And for the record, Loveridge’s shooting percentage has also improved.
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