Wheeling's Terrell is determined to reach his goals
The ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic likely will be far-reaching in all aspects of life.
Jaden Terrell, and probably many high school athletes like him, has already been swept up in one of them.
Terrell, a senior basketball player at Wheeling and his team's leading scorer last season, is hoping to play college basketball. Before COVID hit in March, he had two Division I offers.
But those two offers disappeared when the NCAA gave schools the option to extend eligibility for their current players as a way to make up for the disruption to the 2019-2020 season that COVID caused.
The ripple effect there is that there aren't as many open spots on college rosters available to high school seniors like Terrell, whose best offer last spring when COVID hit was from Arkansas at Little Rock.
"They offered me in January (of 2020)," Terrell said of Little Rock. "I do not have an offer anymore."
Little Rock won the Sun Belt Conference. And when the NCAA gave schools the option to extend eligibilities due to the COVID hardships, every single player that was on the roster last year returned this year. That has altered Little Rock's roster moving forward, allowing for fewer openings for the high school class of 2021.
"At first, I was pretty upset, and shocked," Terrell said. "The coach told us that anything can happen moving forward. But for now, it is what it is.
"It's hard, but it's like my dad told me, you really can't blame them. They had such a good team last year. They won the whole thing (conference). You can't blame the coach for wanting to get all those guys back together.
"My dad told me, 'If I were him, I'd do the same thing.' So what can I do? All I can do is stay on track."
And Terrell is doing just that.
Nature has helped him. Since last season when he averaged a team-leading 13 points per game and shot nearly 40 percent from 3-point range for the Wildcats, Terrell has added nearly three inches.
He was about 6-foot-4 last season and is now a solid 6-foot-7.
He's also worked hard to add to his game.
Known as a deadly outside shooter, Terrell worked relentlessly on his floor game, driving, penetrating and getting to the rim. That became a strength for him on the AAU circuit during the summer.
"Jaden has been great in working hard on his game. He's such a great kid. And he's worked his tail off in the gym," Wheeling coach Tom Antosz said. "Last year, he proved that he was a very good shooter and scorer. Now, he's attacking the rim and finishing and making plays for himself and others."
Terrell says that he got a lot of good tips on improving his floor game from his dad James, who played at Cleveland State.
"He'd force me right and then get me to cut back left. He showed me a lot of good moves and I kept practicing it," Terrell said. "I worked with my dad a lot, and I think it really helped. Before, I was labeled as just a shooter. Now I can get to the rack and I'm dunking more, too.
"That added to my game and got me noticed."
Now, after a summer full of AAU tournaments in other states, Terrell is getting a new round of offers from some Division II and NAIA schools such as Davenport, Grand View, Benedictine University Mesa, and Maryville in St. Louis.
"My goal has always been to go Division I," Terrell said. "But I could go Division II or NAIA and really work and put some weight on and maybe have a good season and then see what happens. Or maybe I'll really like it where I end up.
"This whole thing with COVID makes me upset. But whatever happens, this gives me a reason to keep working. Some kids are giving up. But I'm going to use this adversity as a way to keep focused. I'm going to keep working so that I can stay on track."