It’s not very often that you get to have a conversation with your favorite buckeye in a particular sport but I got to do just that recently with Jay Burson.
I began being a fan of Jays while he was scorching the nets at New Concord John Glenn high school in the early to mid eighties. I went to high school at Vincent Warren not that far away from him and tried several times to watch him play and never could get a ticket. Every gym he played in during his senior year in 1984-85 was sold out and mostly standing room only. Even the game that he finally broke the Ohio High School all time leading scorer mark had to be moved to Muskingum College. It was a place that he knew very well as his father coached the Muskies for 38 years and amassed 542 victories there. The home team that night was the Philo Electrics and agreed to the move. Jay broke Rex Leach’s record from the 1950’s of 2,581 and would finish with 2,958.
Jay can be heard with Adam Neft on 97.1 the Fan out of Columbus during pregame shows for the mens team nowadays and owns his own sporting equipment company. You can follow Jay on his website and see that he keeps himself busy.
When we first started our conversation he was telling me about something new that he’s working on. If there’s one thing you can say about Jay and his playing days it’s how tough he was. Most remember that it took a broken neck, literally, to slow him down. He never gave up his dream of playing professionally and spent some time in the NBA with the Rockets and finished his career in the CBA.
He has a passion for everything he has ever done and believes that things happen for a reason. He will be introducing a new program through his speaking and it’s simply called “Keep Playing”. The message is simple. No matter what happens to you in life, at work, and in sports, he says to do what he’s learned, keep playing. Don’t give up on your goals and dreams because of speed bumps. Pick yourself up just as if you were just fouled hard in a basketball game and keep playing. I look forward to his new scheme as it can make a difference in your life in any phase.
WVa: “All greats seem to grow up being coached by their dad. Your dad was a great coach at Muskingum, so what was it like around the dinner table. How much coaching did he give you as a kid, you also had a great one at John Glenn.”
JB: “It was always easy being around dad. The biggest thing with him was preparation. Playing with college players growing up and gaining that toughness from it. The relationships with those players and coaches and my dad are lifelong. Ron Hoyt was my coach at John Glenn and taught me respect, honesty and toughness.”
“Other than breaking the record on your dad’s floor at Muskingum, what was your favorite moment in high school and/or college? And your least favorite.”
“The whole experience of high school and college was one big favorite. There are so many moments and times that I enjoyed it’d be difficult to pick one shot or play. However, if I had to pick a high school moment it would be losing to Maysville in the tournament my senior year. I’d like to have that moment back to do over for sure. And of course in college, even though it brought me to where and who i am today, the lay-up at Iowa when I broke my neck.”
I mentioned to Jay at this point that was a heartbreaking moment for me. That team wasn’t the same without him and I believe they would have gone far had he not gotten hurt.
“You were recruited by the great Eldon Miller and played one season under him. Gary Williams came in and turned things around and upside down in a hurry. What was that like?”
“Coach Miller was a fundamentalist and very traditional when it came to coaching. I spent a lot of time my freshman year realizing that I wasn’t very good. And the challenge made me work that much harder to get on the court and play. Coach Williams came in and made some big changes and really started using me in the way I was used to playing, I loved the up tempo and shooting style that he brought. Both coaches played a big role in the type of player I became and are great coaches.”
“I’ve become friends with another Buckeye great in Dennis Hopson on twitter and he says you guys are still great friends. What was it like playing with Hops?”
“Fantastic player that could score from anywhere and made things difficult on the opponents because he could play in the post too and it made them double down on him and freed the rest of the team up. Very good friend and wonderful person.”
“He says Joe Dumas was the prankster on that team and I have actually heard that it was you. True or False?”
“It was definitely Joe Dumas. He was one of the players on the team and was part of the “Pine Brothers”. They were always joking around and saying stuff to us during the games and on the bench. Good times we had with Joe around.”
“I’ve been a Buckeye fan for as long as I can remember but really became a basketball fan because of you and how you played the game. What was your favorite part of playing?”
“I would have loved to have 3 point line while I was playing, but definitely attack the D to get fouled and shoot free throws. Really enjoyed just playing and the competitive nature of the sport.”
I really enjoyed my conversation with Jay and hope to connect in person some day. I would like to thank him for his time and encourage you to catch up with him before all Buckeyes men’s games on 97.1 The Fan.