Profile: Jason Fraser

Leslie Combs

As one of the top five recruited forwards in the nation in 2002, Villanova novice Jason Fraser is expected to do great things on the Main Line this season. His resume includes leading Amittyville High School to three New York state championships, starting on the McDonald’s All-American squad his senior year and taking the Long Island Panthers to the 2001 AAU National Championship alongside future teammate Curtis Sumpter. And those is just the highlights. While at his small Long Island high school the 6-foot-10-inch Harlem native of Jamaican descent developed into one of the most sought after players in the East. Louisville and St. John’s joined Villanova on Fraser’s final list and making the final cut was far from easy. In the end it came down to the cliché, “It is all who you know.”

Prior to coming to the Main Line, men’s head coach Jay Wright had heavily recruited Fraser while at Hofstra. Assistant coach Fred Hill likewise had recruited him for Seton Hall, while assistant coach Joe Jones kept Villanova on the map. As fate would have it, the three coaches convened together under Wright in 2001 and became a large draw for the big man.

“What made me come is from knowing the coach for several years, since my senior year of high school,” Fraser said when explaining why Villanova won the recruiting war. “When I took my first official visit here they treated me like family, so that pretty much steered me in this direction.” However, for Fraser, no decision can ever be made on just experience and for the final vote the freshman turns to God in prayer. “The ultimate thing was that I prayed on it,” he emphasized. “He just led me here. He put it in my heart to come here.”

Fraser’s spirituality and faith in God is what has led him on and off the court. Growing up without a father, many of Fraser’s basketball coaches became father figures to him, but it is the Lord who has guided the way.

“Being a Christian and living your life spiritually has to do with everything,” Fraser said. “On and off the court it is all about the attitude, how you go about things and the way you think. You are going to have your trials and tribulations that come, but you must handle that accordingly. As long as you do that according to the Word you will be ok.”

Since coming to Villanova the newcomer has relied more than ever on his faith to help him adjust to the collegiate life. Since coming to the Main Line, Fraser has seen a glimpse of what the real world is like. “In high school you have your parents, and you have everyone watching over you,” he said. “You have protection from the harms of the outside world where as her you have to deal with it a little bit more.”

Also helping Fraser segueing from high school to college has been coach Wright, and already in the first few months he has taught the freshman a lot about life and about basketball.

“On the court the coach is there to push you and to show you what to do,” Fraser explained.

Much of what Wright is teaching is how to remain poised under the pressure that the freshman class, especially Fraser, will be feeling throughout the season. Although Eddie Griffin’s Seton Hall experience still lingers in collegiate basket- ball’s memory, Fraser is expected to make immediate impact on the inside in his inaugural season. With his height and quick hands, he is forecasted to play the boards well, both rebounding and blocking. While his shot is not Buchanan-deep, he still should put up significant interior points for ‘Nova. All this talent and skill wrapped up in one tall package has NBA scouts already taking down his stats, but when asked about the possibility of leaving school early for a professional career Fraser answered that he doesn’t even think about it. For him right now his focus is on the court and in the classroom, worrying about tomorrow instead of next week.

“You deal with what is in front you,” Fraser replied. “Tomorrow will handle itself, and you can’t be professional in your perspective career without going through some steps. If you worry about that without going through the steps you just become a failure within that specialized field.”

When it come to dealing with all the attention that Fraser and the rest of the team has received, his solution is very simple.

“You kind of block it out,” he stated. “You just worry about what is here on this campus and deal with that and then expand your horizons.”

Fraser hopes he will be able to block out what the distractions that will oppose him in the classroom and on the court. With hopes of making the dean’s list here at Villanova as well as serving on the NCAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee as Duke All-American Shane Battier did during his college tenure, Fraser has set his goals high, but is committed to reaching them. When asked what is the greatest advice he has been given, Frase simply said to put your faith in Jesus. “Let him lead you,” he encouraged. “You will stumble sometimes, but He will pick you right back up and keep you moving on your life.”