Crumpacker: Pacific Destination for UOP's Trip
Jahlil Tripp making a difference for the Tigers
By John Crumpacker - #WCChoops Columnist
As a graduate of Lincoln High in Brooklyn, Jahlil Tripp counts as some of his school’s more distinguished fellow alums broadcaster Marv Albert, comic actor-director Mel Brooks, singer Neil Diamond, actor Louis Gossett Jr., novelist Joseph Heller and former NBA players Stephon Marbury and Sebastian Telfair.
Tripp hopes one day to add his name to the list of that New York City public school’s honor roll, the place where the movie “He’s Got Game’’ was based. He’s well on his way. And yes, he’s got game.
“There’s definitely a big legacy going there,’’ Tripp said. “I’m definitely hoping’’ to continue it.
After leaving Lincoln High, Tripp started a westward migration that included a stop at South Plains College in Levelland, TX., for one season of junior college basketball. The versatile guard-forward averaged 11.4 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game for the Texans.
Informed of the talent on the South Plains team by his assistant coaches, Pacific head coach Damon Stoudamire went to see for himself and came away impressed not only with Tripp but with one of his teammates as well, guard Roberto Gallinat.
“I hadn’t seen either one of them,’’ Stoudamire said. “My assistants had seen them play. I went to a game. When I left the gym, I was like, ‘Damn, this dude Tripp is a really, really good player.’ I know he hates this comparison, but he reminds me of Draymond Green. It’s not that he plays the ‘4,’ it’s that I hadn’t been around a guy who affected the game without scoring. That’s why I loved him.’’
Stoudamire ultimately signed both South Plains players. Tripp, a 6-foot-5 sophomore small forward, does a little bit of everything for the Tigers, averaging 9.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Tripp leads his team in rebounding and assists and Stoudamire said he’s his best defender. Gallinat, a 6-3 junior guard, leads Pacific in scoring at 13.5 per game.
“I’ve been that kind of player my whole life,’’ Tripp said of his versatility. “It carried over to Pacific. I was definitely a playmaker, scorer, rebounder and defender. I try to go out and play basketball the right way. I think the transition has been pretty cool. I’ve been getting adjusted. It’s everything I hoped for on the Division I level.’’
How Tripp went from Brooklyn to Stockton, with a stop in Texas in between, is illustrative of college basketball today. He initially committed to Rutgers but just before graduating from Lincoln, Rutgers fired its head coach and Tripp did not know the new coach, so …
“I talked to my parents and opened up recruiting.’’
Problem was, it was late in the recruiting game and offers from Div. I schools were not forthcoming, so South Plains it was. The question was why.
“One of my old high school coaches (James Barrett), knew the coach there (Steve Green),’’ Tripp said. “He figured if I was going to go to JC, that would be a good place to go.’’
Tripp met Gallinat at South Plains and the two forged a rapport on the court, although they did not consider themselves anybody’s “package deal’’ at the time, even though that’s the way it worked out for them and for Stoudamire.
“It wasn’t a set plan to go to school together at the time they (Pacific) were recruiting him,’’ Tripp said of Gallinat. “We felt comfortable. You have someone who knew you. We know each other’s spot when we’re out there. It’s like poetry in motion. We feed off each other. It’s been a good transition with Roberto.’’
Tripp turned in his usual versatile game with 11 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals while Gallinat had a quiet outcome with 5 points and 5 assists in Pacific’s 57-55 win at UC Riverside on Thursday night that leveled the team’s record at 4-4.
Eight games into the season, Stoudamire is sold on Tripp, making his trip across the country with a stop in Texas worthwhile for player and coach.
“He’s our best rebounder, our best passer and our best defender,’’ Stoudamire said. “I think the sky’s the limit with his game. He can be as good as he wants to be. He’s a good kid. From day one, he’s been the same. He wants to get better. That’s all you can ask for.’’
As for the pair, Tripp and Gallinat, Stoudamire said, “That was my package deal, to get both of those guys. I think they’re high-level talent. More importantly, they’re high-character kids. The fit right in with what I want to do here at Pacific.’’
For Tripp, who has ambitions to play on the highest level after college, having a head coach with solid credentials as a former NBA player was one more reason he chose Pacific as his landing spot. He’ll have three seasons in Stockton by the time he’s done.
“That was a big influence to me coming here, knowing I want to play on the next level,’’ Tripp said. “He knows what it takes to get there. He’s the coach I expected – hard on everybody, from the first man to the last man. He coaches the right way. He’s been a big help to me. In the four months I’ve been here, he has seen a tremendous growth in my game. He’s excited and I’m excited.’’
Tripp said his goal for the team is to go into the WCC Tournament at or above .500 in conference play. That would be a significant improvement for the Tigers, who were 4-14 in conference and 11-22 overall in what was Stoudamire’s first season in Stockton.
In his first year at Pacific, Tripp is well on his way to adding his name to his high school’s glittering and eclectic roll call of distinguished alums.
John Crumpacker spent more than three decades working at the San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle. During his career he has covered the full gamut of sports from prep to professionals. Most recently, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for Cal through the end of the 2013-14 season. In addition to covering 10 Olympic Games, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for the San Francisco 49ers. He is a two-time winner of the Track & Field Writers of America annual writing award and has several APSE Top 10 writing awards. Crumpacker has been covering #WCChoops since the 2014-15 season.