California State University East Bay
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Humble beginnings drive CSUEB basketball star

Photo | Tam Duong Jr.

Photo | Tam Duong Jr.

Photo | Tam Duong Jr.

Humble beginnings drive CSUEB basketball star

October 30, 2014

Coming from the Fillmore District in San Francisco, known for it’s tough, urban, inner-city streets, you would think that everything else would be downhill from there.

For Cal State East Bay men’s basketball player Jacari Whitfield, it was just the beginning of a long uphill climb.

“I saw so much stuff as a kid. Drugs, guns, violence, I mean you see it all there,” Whitfield said.

“Thankfully my parents were able to keep me going in the right direction.”

That direction led to CSUEB, where Whitfield has been a standout guard for the Pioneers.

The senior red shirt is thankful that his parents were there to help guide him out of a rough environment.

“My mom and my dad really kept me focused,” Whitfield said.

“When you see some of the things I do it can be easy to get caught up in them but they gave me positive examples.”

Whitfield’s parents James and Veleta both work, and his mother recently graduated from Holy Names College in Oakland.

“My mom graduating from college was really inspiring to me,” Whitfield said. “It made me focus on my education and goals even that much more.”

In addition to starring on the basketball team Whitfield also goes to school full-time in addition to maintaining a job to pay for off campus housing.

He was a star playing varsity level basketball at Saint Joseph Notre Dame before attending CSUEB.


“It sucks sometimes getting up before the sun is even up and going from work to practice to school,” Whitfield said. “I know that it is for the best though. I need to do this  to get to where I want to be eventually.”

Michael Luna, a co-worker, was amazed at the load that Whitfield has taken on.

“I overheard him talking to a manager about playing at Cal State [East Bay],” Luna said. “Many people can’t handle all of those things that he does. Working, school, basketball, that’s a lot.”

Whitfield is hopeful that all of this hard work will pay off for him and his career goals.

He said he would love to coach basketball on a professional level, ideally in either high school or college because he said he learned the most playing at those stages.

Men’s basketball coach Gus Argenal is impressed with his talented guard, saying that he is a great representative of the kind of student athletes on campus who work hard for their goals.

“He is asked to be a leader for us every day and he accepts that challenge even though he has to juggle other obligations,” said Argenal.

“You would never know that he has all of these responsibilities because he is able to focus on the task at hand and give his all to our team.”

Whitfield has been a star at CSUEB in his time here ranking in the top ten all time in three point field goals made and assists—two coveted categories for offensive minded players.

“Records don’t mean everything,” Whitfield said. “It is about learning and understanding how to play this game. The coaches here have been great at helping me go to the next level with that and not just relying on my athletic ability.”

The start of the upcoming season is rapidly approaching for the Pioneers with the first exhibition of the season slated for tomorrow at 7 p.m. when they take on UC Berkeley at Haas Pavillion.

The first regular season game is at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 14 when the Pioneers travel to take on Montana State.

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