Mike Krzyzewski is pretty certain Chris Jeter sports Duke license plates.
The two, once rivals in a way, share a bit of history.
Jeter, father of Duke sophomore forward Chase, was on the UNLV team that routed Duke in the 1990 NCAA championship game, a year before Krzyzewski’s first title.
In 1991, Duke ended UNLV’s 45-game winning streak in the Final Four with a 79-77 upset, en route to its first of back-to-back championships.
Chris Jeter was a reserve forward who spent four seasons with the Runnin’ Rebels, playing in 60 games. He was on both those UNLV teams, including the one that beat Duke for the largest margin of victory in an NCAA championship game, a 103-73 defeat on April 2, 1990.
“How ironic, huh? That we got him wearing Duke stuff,” Krzyzewski said of Chris Jeter.
Chase Jeter, choosing Coach K over UNLV in his college decision, gave his father a reason to support Duke 26 years later, and the Blue Devils’ forward will have a unique connection when he visits his hometown Saturday. Duke and UNLV will be the first college basketball teams to play in Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena, which opened in April, when the teams meet Saturday for the first time since 1991.
“I’m excited,” said Jeter, Nevada’s top recruit of 2015 out of Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High School. “Treating it like any other game, but definitely, it’s an opportunity, a special opportunity, for me to visit home, so that’s something I’m looking forward to.”
Chris Jeter is now a police officer for the Las Vegas Metro Police Department; Krzyzewski said “he rides a motorcycle and all that.” The elder Jeter could not be reached for this story, but after Hall of Fame UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian passed away last year, reports noted how Chris Jeter’s time at UNLV helped shape his life.
He grew up in poverty in San Diego, getting a second chance to play college basketball after being academically ineligible at Missouri. He played spot minutes on the two famed Rebels teams.
When it came time for Chase Jeter, a McDonald’s All-American and Nevada’s Gatorade Player of the Year in 2015, to select a college, there was no pressure to pick UNLV.
Flipped the script a little bit with me being at Duke instead of UNLV, and it’s gong to be fun to head back home and play against them this year.
Jeter’s journey to college differed vastly from his father’s.
“My dad didn’t have the resources I had growing up,” Jeter said. “I went to private school, I had gym access all the time. Access to the weight room, access to not all the things my pops had. Being able to be in the situation my parents put me in definitely helped me in my recruiting process, because at the end of the day, it was really where I felt comfortable.”
Duke will head West with a 9-1 record, coming off an 84-74 win over Florida on Tuesday that was fueled by grad student forward Amile Jefferson and sophomore guard Luke Kennard.
With the myriad of Duke lineups this year as the Blue Devils have adjusted to star freshmen being injured, there are still five players with scoring averages in double figures, including the 6-9, 205 pound freshman wing Jayson Tatum. He’s at 16 through his first two games of his college career.
Jeter started in five games this year before sustaining a slight foot injury in Duke’s Hall of Fame trip to Connecticut last month. He’s come off the bench for spurts here and there, averaging 15.8 minutes this year. Jeter gets 3.8 points and 2.7 rebounds a game, with nearly half of his boards (48.1 percent) coming off the offensive glass.
He’ll be part of Duke and UNLV’s fourth all-time meeting Saturday.
“I think (Chris is) very proud of what he did at Las Vegas, and he’s very proud of what his son is doing at Duke,” Krzyzewski said.
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan
Duke at UNLV
When: 5:15 p.m. Saturday
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas