By Bailey Biddle
The six-foot five middle school pitcher had a passion for baseball throughout his childhood, but something else was calling his name. The same middle schooler sprung up like a rocket to six-foot ten inches going into his freshman year of high school. Then he was introduced to the great game of basketball.
Jaden Frazier, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga freshman basketball player out of Polaski, Virginia suddenly found a new passion.
The path Frazier took to get to the point where he is now wasn’t a normal one, but he wouldn’t change it. He played baseball his whole life and the goal was to continue in college. That goal seemed attainable; Jaden’s older brother, Tyler Frazier, played baseball in college at Bluefield State in West Virginia.
Tyler Frazier set a record at his school for playing every position but catcher. Jaden listened to his peers and tried out basketball and it just felt natural. After this, Blue Ridge High School basketball in Charlottesville, Virginia was never the same.
Versatile is defined by embracing a variety of subjects, fields, or skills and turning with ease from one to another. This characteristic has defined Jaden’s athletic ability and was a factor in him choosing UTC.
Not only is Jaden versatile in his athletic ability, but off the court in the community.
To understand what went into this decision you have to know Jaden’s family background. Jaden’s dad, Chris Frazier, is a huge role model in his life and is a host home provider in Jaden’s hometown. “ My dad loves people, but he sets an example for the community,” Frazier says. “You don’t need to have money to make an impact, and simply taking kids to the playground can be an impactful thing.”
Frazier also chose UTC because of its style of play, and most importantly, head coach Lamonte Paris. “ I just loved the culture Coach Paris was building by getting the community more involved and I loved the style of play and seeing all the donors support UTC,” Frazier says. Among other charitable endeavors, Paris has joined in the Coaches versus Cancer fight and hosts the annual Shooting Down Cancer event to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
But basketball is only half the story at UTC, and Frazier has had other things to help mold him into a better person.
Jaden Frazier strived for something more and started searching for something missing in his life. This led him to Brainerd Baptist’s campus ministry The Rec. The Rec allowed him to meet a Brainerd intern Hunter Stonebraker, who became a friend who helped Frazier grow as a person.
“ Once he found Christ everything changed, and life wasn’t just about him anymore,” Stonebraker says. “It was for a higher purpose, Jaden’s new found faith has ignited his love for helping the community and he has truly developed a passion for helping others.
“Now, Jaden takes steps to lead other guys in healthy ways and holds them accountable and is pretty humble about it.” What isn’t welcoming about Frazier and his wide smile that invites you in with open arms? Despite his huge size, he brings a presence of peace like a gentle giant.
His mom, Karen Frazier, who played college basketball at Radford was a power forward and talked of the growth her son has had in his first year in college. “He is very social. Being there for people is a big thing we instill in this family, and he has been a shoulder for people to talk to.”
With all these great things going on outside of the court in Frazier’s life, what helps to keep him motivated on the court being a freshman who is redshirting? Jaden said, “I get to support my guys every day and to be there for them. I want to try to help them to get to another level.”
Frazier also found another role model in senior leader Jonathan Scott.
Scott motivated Frazier to be patient and to know his time will come soon. Patience and wisdom are two great qualities a leader should have. “Jonathan Scott doesn’t play the minutes he necessarily wants to as a senior but does what is best for the team,” said Frazier.
Humility is a quality Frazier respects. His situation with the team at the moment reminds him of his role model in the NBA, the silent but deadly Frank Kaminsky. Kaminsky had the privilege to play under Coach Paris, who was an assistant at Wisconsin. Kaminsky played for the Badgers for four years and to their first appearance in the national championship in 74 years.
This didn’t come without grinding and playing only a few minutes his freshman and sophomore year. Kaminsky’s Junior season he exploded on to the scene and broke the Wisconsin single-game scoring record with 43 points against North Dakota and was the big break he needed to jump start his career. Frazier looks to have the opportunity to make a name for himself, but understands it has to come with humble beginnings.
Frazier went to four straight state championships in high school and won the 2017 and 2019 state championship. He was a 3-star prospect on ESPN.com and played for the 2018 USA basketball select U18 team. The team played China, Italy, and France and finished third out of 11 teams.
All these accomplishments are outstanding and Frazier is proud of them, but his main goal is his faith. “ In college, I have pursued Jesus Christ and he has helped me reach a new light,” said Frazier. Character and faith, the two things that define people in this world.
Sometimes, what we do as people away from sports may be as impactful as what we do with the platform of sports. Jaden Frazier practices every day to be a better teammate on and off the court.