The men’s basketball team has high hopes for a strong finish this season in large part because of senior forward Jarvis Garner.
Garner is leading the Bears in scoring this season with 15.2 points per game. The powerful player said he thinks he brings a lot to the table.
“I want to be a leader on and off the court,” Garner said. “I’m not too worried about scoring or anything because that comes very easy. I like to be someone the guys look up to. Mostly I just want to win.”
Garner also leads the Bears in rebounding with 6.6 boards per game, but said he believes there’s room for improvement.
“I really want to key in on the defensive end and I think I’m doing that slowly game by game,” he said. “I’m trying to be a good perimeter/post defender and a rebounding monster.”
After graduating from Conway High School in 2009, Garner chose to attend Connors St. Junior College in Oklahoma to “fine tune” his game.
“Connors prepared me mentally and physically because [junior college] has a lot of [Division 1] talent…guys who didn’t make the grades or transfers,” Garner said. “Our team was top 10 in the nation both years, so we were taught how to win.”
In 2011, after two seasons at Connors St. Junior College, Garner said he started to receive offers from Division 1 schools. He said the decision to transfer to UCA was not as easy as many might think.
“I had a lot of offers to some big schools, as well as some other mid majors,” Garner said. “But I’m from here and it’s a different program than I saw growing up, along with a former NBA star as a coach now. I basically had ties with everybody before I made the decision, plus Robert Crawford came with me for his second stint here and that made it easier.”
UCA Head Coach Corliss Williamson praised Garner for his play and senior leadership.
“He does a great job,” Williamson said. “He shoots the ball well. He’s one of the guys we go to on offense. Jarvis has been a really big leader for us this year, on and off the court. He stepped up and understands it’s his senior year and he’s trying to go out with a bang.”
Garner said he felt Williamson’s style of coaching factored into his decision.
“I like it. It lets us display our athleticism and our talent,” he said. “Coach gives us freedom on offense because we have so many weapons, but he preaches our defense and our up tempo style of play. He has a lot of faith in us; that’s what keeps us going.”
Garner said he is determined to make his final season a memorable one.
“We want to be number one in the conference and win our conference tourney in Katy, Texas,” he said. “If we do that, we’ll get to compete in the NCAA tournament.”
Garner, who is majoring in health education, said he will graduate next summer.
“After [graduation], everybody’s dream is to get paid for playing this game and people are telling me I have a chance, but that’s not my focus right now,” Garner said. “It’s just to get my degree and most importantly have a winning season and put UCA basketball on the map.”