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Jeter calls picking Pitt a 'win-win' situation

Kevin Gorman
| Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 4:00 p.m.

After what Sheldon Jeter calls his “summer of uncertainty,” the former Beaver Falls star was at a loss for words to describe what it means to finally have a clear picture of his basketball future.

Living in limbo since leaving Vanderbilt, Jeter is spending the school year at Polk State College in Winter Haven, Fla. After taking an official visit to Pitt last weekend, Jeter committed to play for the Panthers. He plans to sign during the early period in November and enroll in May.

The 6-foot-8, 223-pound small forward, the 2012 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review player of the year after averaging 21.8 points in leading Beaver Falls to the WPIAL Class AA title and PIAA final, is looking forward to the opportunity to play in the ACC with Pitt next season.

“It's really exciting,” Jeter said. “To be able to leave one of the best basketball conferences in the SEC and go to what I view as the best conference with the best competition is just amazing.

“I didn't want to go from the SEC to play in a mid-major conference. I either wanted to stay at that level or go higher. With this move, I feel like I'm going higher. And the fact that I get to study and watch (ACC) teams this year is great. It's a win-win for me.”

Jeter averaged 5.5 points and 3.4 rebounds while playing 18 minutes a game as a freshman at Vanderbilt. When he decided to transfer to be “closer to home,” Commodores coach Kevin Stallings denied both his request and an appeal to accept a scholarship from Pitt, which hadn't offered Jeter out of high school.

Jeter picked Vanderbilt over Penn State, Kansas State, South Carolina and Wisconsin. When he decided to transfer, Jeter said he was in contact with Cincinnati, Georgetown, Florida State, Ohio State, Purdue and VCU. While he waited, those schools filled their scholarships.

“It's just been difficult,” Jeter said. “To leave a great institution like Vanderbilt and then go through what I went through this summer, it's been humbling. But the end result is worth everything I went through. I felt like I fit in at Pitt. How I feel now is worth all the anger, frustration and stress that was put on me.”

Jeter picked Polk State in part because of the relationship his father, Carliss, has with Eagles coach Matt Furjanic, a Rankin native who has coached at Robert Morris, Marist and Pitt-Greensburg, as well as General Braddock and Woodland Hills high schools. Furjanic coached Jeter's cousin, Lance, who played at Nebraska. Another cousin, Brock Van Lier, plays at Polk State.

Sheldon Jeter will sit out this season but practice with Polk State.

“Any leading scorer we play against, he's going to be that player on our scout team,” Furjanic said. “I might have a future pro on my scout team. That could go down in history.”

Furjanic views Jeter as a combination forward, and is helping him work on his ball handling and defending smaller guards so that he can play small forward at Pitt, which will lose three-year starter Lamar Patterson to graduation after this season.

“He's a good outside shooter,” Furjanic said of Jeter. “He's going to need some work on his ball handling, which we're working with, but I think down the road he can be a 6-8 three-man. He goes to the basket with authority. He's a great kid, a relentless hard worker.

“He's an unbelievable kid. He's special.”

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