"I'm trying to get used to calling him Coach all the time," the University of Massachusetts men's basketball guard said of his coach.
UMass rookie Jordan Couture thrilled to be part of team
Published: Wednesday, November 10, 2010, 6:21 PM Updated: Wednesday, November 10, 2010, 6:34 PM
AMHERST - Jordan Couture is getting the hard part down pat.
"I'm trying to get used to calling him Coach all the time," the University of Massachusetts men's basketball guard said of his coach, Derek Kellogg, who is also his cousin and godfather.
"He offered me an opportunity here, and so far it's been great. We'll see how far it takes me."
Couture enters his freshman season with no illusions. A 6-foot-3 walk-on, his basketball experience will come almost exclusively in practice.
He will likely play only a handful of minutes this year, at the end of blowouts, with no promise of even that.
"It's a big adjustment and it might be hard sometimes, sitting on the sidelines," said Couture, a West Springfield native who averaged 17.1 points for Cathedral High School as a senior.
"It gives me a chance to play with top players, though. (Kellogg) is an inspiration to our family, but I don't expect any special treatment."
That's good, because he won't get any.
"I think Jordan has realistic expectations. He's a smart kid and he knows we have a full roster," said Kellogg, whose team opens the season against Rider on Friday with 12 scholarship players and will add a 13th, Jesse Morgan, for the second semester.
"This was my idea, absolutely. One thing I knew was that Jordan really wanted to go to UMass," the coach said.
"It's a great fit as a school. I knew from my own experience that he'd enjoy it academically and socially.'
"I think he also knows to shut his ears when the players talk smack about me in the locker room."
Kellogg went from Cathedral to UMass in 1991. A two-year captain who played in four NCAA tournaments, he graduated in 1995 as an Atlantic 10 All-Academic selection.
Couture's goals are more modest in basketball, but not in class. He is considering a kinesiology major.
"Jordan has been pretty good about our situation. He's a player, I'm a coach, and he knows it's all business here," Kellogg said.
"Naturally, I care about him as a family member. But I care about all of our players."
Couture's high school pedigree is impressive. As a senior with a good shooting touch, he reached double figures in 18 of 20 games, scored 32 against Science & Technology and topped 20 five times.
He played in the Western Mass. Hall of Fame Senior All-Star Game, and with the Springfield Slamm in the Greater Hartford Pro-Am League.
Such a player can usually make an impact in Division III, and Couture considered a few smaller schools, including Springfield College and Western New England.
His college of choice was UMass, where his basketball value will be in practice, challenging the starters and helping them prepare for upcoming opponents.
On rare occasions, a walk-on gets center stage. In 1996, John Calipari sent Giddel Padilla into a Final Four game against Kentucky and the walk-on guard played well.
Accepting this role with such a goal in mind is unrealistic, though. Like Couture, most walk-ons have been former high school stars.
Many have become disillusioned, once the reality of their status set in. Couture does not plan to be one of them.
"I'm learning so much, being on this team. I'm also getting a great education here, and at the end of the day, that comes first," he said.