Rising to the Occasion

Rising to the Occasion

True freshman Frazier is poised to make an impact with the Nittany Lion basketball team. Check out our feature story and video interview.

Noted poet, philosopher and basketball player Daryll Dawkins once captured the essence of the slam dunk in a single phrase:

“I jam, therefore I am.”

If ever there was an athlete known for one thing, it was Dawkins, the 6-foot-11, 270-pound former NBA center whose backboard smashing antics led to the widespread use of breakaway rims.

At 6-foot and 170 pounds, it is doubtful Penn State freshman guard Tim Frazier could break a backboard even with the old-style rigid rims. But at the start of his college career, he is also known primarily for his ability to dunk.

And that's just fine by Frazier.

“It gets me hyped, the fans hyped and the other players hyped,” Frazier said. “It is a god-given ability, and I'm happy to be able to do it.”

Frazier, who said he first dunked in a game as a 5-10 eighth grader, displayed his unique talent in a dunking contest at the Jordan Center prior to the Minnesota football game in October. He won easily, even though 6-10 center Andrew Jones tried to gain the favor of the crowd and judges by dressing as Joe Paterno for a dunk in the finals.

Before Jones took the floor in the finals, Frazier had an even better idea for his last slam. He took two kids out of the crowd and lined them up under the basket. The intent, obviously, was to leap over them to dunk, something he had done to an opposing player during a game in his senior season at Strake Jesuit High in Houston.

A video of the play gained widespread viewership on YouTube. See it at this link.

Unfortunately, Frazier was never cleared for liftoff. PSU coach Ed DeChellis was near the floor at the time the kids were being lined up and immediately put the kybosh on the stunt.

Asked why later, DeChellis told a reporter, “Would you let Tim Frazier jump over your kid?” Good point.

Frazier did not take it personally.

“He knew I could clear them because he knew I could clear him, too,” the freshman said of DeChellis. “But he didn't want any kind of mishap. Anything could happen. I could trip, they could move. So he didn't want anything to happen.

“I understand that, and when I look back on it, I would rather have just jumped over [DeChellis] instead,” Frazier added with a smile.

Jeff Brooks, a 6-8 forward, said there was no question Frazier could have cleared the kids and/or DeChellis.

“We've been in the gym a couple of times, and I've jumped over a garbage can [to dunk],” Brooks said. “So then he stacked two garbage cans. It would have been super easy. … Tim could have definitely jumped over Coach Ed.”

Fellow forward D.J. Jackson was equally confident Frazier could have cleared anyone or thing put in front of him, noting, “this summer he jumped over one of our managers. … But Coach wouldn't let him do it there for obvious reasons.”

Jackson added while the ability to dunk may put Frazier in the spotlight, there is much more to his game. And he is looking forward to seeing it Friday when the Lions open the 2009-10 season against Penn at the Jordan Center.

“He's a very athletic kid and can jump very high,” Jackson said. “That's not all there is to his game, though. He really sees the floor and can penetrate. But he will have a couple highlight reel plays this year, mark my word.”

Check out our video interview with Frazier and a couple of his teammates below.

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