A run through the PIAA playoffs could take Beaver Falls and Sheldon Jeter to various places around Pennsylvania, but Jeter's schedule already has him all over the map.
Last weekend it was a WPIAL Class AA championship on Saturday night and a recruiting trip to Wisconsin the next day. This weekend for Jeter, it's a PIAA playoff game Saturday afternoon and a trip to Kansas State the next day.
"Mentally, sometimes it's hard to focus because my mind will be in five different places at once," Jeter said.
Many other high school players wish they had such problems.
Jeter is a senior basketball player at Beaver Falls High School who is trying to push his team to a PIAA championship, while being pulled by major-college programs. This past Sunday, while on his recruiting visit to Wisconsin, he spent time at the home of Badgers coach Bo Ryan.
"I've tried to tell him to just have fun with the recruiting," said Jeter's father, Carliss. "I told him there are a lot of kids all over the country who would love to be in your shoes."
Sheldon Jeter, a 6-foot-7, 208-pound forward, has been a starter at Beaver Falls since his sophomore year. But as this season progressed, he emerged as the most heavily recruited player in Western Pennsylvania. Besides visiting Wisconsin, he also went on a recruiting trip to South Carolina. Besides the trip to Kansas State this weekend, he plans to visit Seton Hall and Penn State after the season.
All of those schools have offered scholarships, and Pitt is still showing interest. Although the Panthers do not have a scholarship to give, Carliss Jeter said Pitt's coaches have asked his son to wait on making a decision because a scholarship possibly could open at some point in the future.
Carliss Jeter is a former Beaver Falls player and current assistant coach for the Tigers. Carliss, who played at two junior colleges and then the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (NCAA Division I) with future NBA player Gerald Wilkins, also coaches his son in recruiting.
"When I picked him up after his trip to Wisconsin, he said, 'Dad, can I change that trip to Kansas State to later?' I said, 'Not really.' I told him to enjoy it because this is a time in your life you'll never forget," Carliss Jeter said. "To this day, I still remember when Oklahoma State recruited me and had a plane come up just to fly me down to Oklahoma.
"I told him, 'Son, this is all something special you'll never forget. You just sat with a legend like Bo Ryan in his house for two hours.' At Kansas State this Sunday, he is going to be with the team during [NCAA] Selection Sunday. These are experiences he'll never forget."
Beaver Falls coach Doug Biega can see the recruiting taking a toll on Sheldon. He noticed Jeter seemed a little tired at practice following the Wisconsin visit. If Beaver Falls (24-2) defeats Lakeview (19-6) Saturday, Jeter will go to Kansas State Sunday, come home Monday and play a PIAA second-round game Tuesday. But Biega commends Jeter for keeping his priorities in order.
"I think you have to let families do whatever they need to do to make an important choice like college," Biega said. "What people don't realize is Sheldon is very, very intellectual and there are no knee-jerk reactions in this thing. He's going about this process at the level that makes you proud.
"You know he wants to be a lawyer? He really wants to be a defense lawyer. He'll call me and say that this college or that college has a good law school. I'm proud that he first looks educationally at all these colleges. He really does, and how rare is that these days?"
Biega also finds Jeter's work ethic rare. In between his junior and senior years, Jeter put on about 20 pounds of muscle. In the summer, he would sometimes get up at 4 a.m. and run with a friend training to be a boxer. Then he would go to a basketball court and take hundreds of shots. He also had a regular workout schedule at Daman's Strength Training in Monaca.
"He would throw around heavy balls, move big tires, lift chains, whatever," Carliss Jeter said.
For his senior season, Sheldon Jeter was bigger, stronger, faster -- and just a better player overall. More colleges started to offer scholarships as the season progressed and Jeter helped Beaver Falls win the WPIAL Class AA title last Saturday. He is averaging 21 points a game.
"His dad pushed him to do all that workout stuff, but he didn't rebel against it," Biega said. "I think one of the reasons he did it was because he wanted to win a championship and his hard work is one of the main reasons we won."
"My dad has been the biggest part of my success," Sheldon said. "My competitiveness, I get that from him. No matter what it is I'm doing, I have to win."
The winning runs in the family and goes back more than 30 years. Carliss was one of the top players off the bench on Beaver Falls' 1980 WPIAL championship team. Sheldon's older brother, Carliss Jr., started on Beaver Falls' 2005 team that won WPIAL and PIAA titles. Lance Jeter, Sheldon's cousin, was the star of that team.
Carliss Sr.'s sister, Joy, was the star player on the Beaver Falls girls team that won WPIAL and PIAA Class AAAA titles in 1985. Joy's twin brother, Jay, was a standout on the Beaver Falls boys WPIAL championship teams of 1984 and '85.
Could there soon be another gold medal to add to the family coffers? Beaver Falls is ranked No. 1 in the Harrisburg Patriot-News state Class AA rankings.
"Against Monessen [in the WPIAL championship], I was out the whole first half with fouls and Elijah Cottrill carried us," Jeter said. "If Elijah can keep bringing it, and we can stay out of foul trouble, I don't see why we can't win the state championship."
Beaver Falls' Sheldon Jeter grabs a rebound against Monessen's Jaisen Irwin in the WPIAL Class AA championship game Saturday at the Palumbo Center. The Tigers won, 46-27. Jeter is being recruited by Wisconsin, Kansas State, Seton Hall and Penn State.
First Published March 9, 2012 5:00 AM