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Jabbar Singleton: Hardwood over gridiron

We care about you not only as a player, but as a student. We’re here to make you not only the best basketball player you can be, but in four years you’ll have a degree from ORU. These were just a few things that Coach Scott Sutton said to his former recruit in his Southwest Louisiana home. Everything seemed to be a perfect fit except for one thing; no football team.

Decisions. “Where am I going to go to college?” Decisions. “What sport am I going to play?” Decisions.

Feelings of uncertainty raced through ORU point guard Jabbar Singleton’s mind like an endless loop.

A two-sport standout at Brother Martin High School in New Orleans, Singleton caught the attention of scouts and coaches on the basketball court and the football field.

“We liked his toughness, and that football mentality,” said Sutton, thinking back on his recruit.

Singleton ran for 1,422 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns his senior year for Brother Martin, earning him All District 9-5A Honors. He earned the attention of several Div. I universities as a recruit. He received scholarship offers from Florida International and Grambling to play running back and also received interest from Louisiana Tech, Tulane, the University of South Florida, Georgia Tech and Auburn.

“He was one of the toughest competitors I ever coached,” said Brother Martin Head Football Coach Mark Bonis. “Jabbar was a pleasure to coach because he was a student of the game. He was exciting to watch on gameday because he was so gifted and talented.”

At the end of the football season, Singleton swapped football cleats for basketball shoes, and helped lead Brother Martin to a 29-7 season. He averaged 10 points, six assists and almost five rebounds per game his senior year, earning him All District 9-5A Honors in basketball.

He received scholarship offers from the University of New Orleans and ORU and interest from Wofford and University of Texas-El Paso.

“It was fun. Just knowing that you will end up at some school on scholarship. That’s always a good thing,” Singleton said. “It’s also stressful too because you get calls from coaches for football and basketball, and on top of that you don’t even know what sport you want to play yet.”

Singleton remained open to every possibility, but the New Orleans native loves his family. The University of New Orleans, Louisiana Tech and Tulane appealed to him because he could be closer to them.

“Basically, I wasn’t worried about the sports. I was worried about the academics and his education,” said Singleton’s mother Tajuana Watson.
Each recruit has something different they look for when visiting schools. The facilities, the atmosphere or the weather, one unknown factor often determines whether a recruit commits or looks for another school.

“My mom came with me on my visit to ORU. Everything made me feel right at home,” Singleton said. “I’m really a people person. A lot of people don’t know that about me. As soon as I stepped on campus a lot of friendly people talked to me. They didn’t know who I was. I wasn’t even wearing anything with ORU basketball on it.”

With National Signing Day approaching, Singleton knew he had to make a decision. His first love was basketball, and even though he loved football, he felt basketball was the sport he was supposed to play.

“Honestly, it was all surreal to me. I never had anybody in my family go to college. My mom was always there for me saying, ‘Whatever you want to do then go for it.’ She always believed that I could achieve anything in either sport,” said Singleton.

After weighing his options and discussing them with his family, Singleton decided to attend ORU and play basketball for Coach Sutton.

“They felt like home to us. It felt like I’ve known Coach Sutton, Coach Wade and Coach Sean for years,” said Watson. “The welcome they showed me and Jabbar made me feel like I could leave my child so many miles away with them.”

Almost two years removed from one of the toughest decisions he ever made, Singleton stands behind his decision and remains committed to being the best basketball player and student he can be.

“My parents always told me to be humble and to keep working hard. That’s all I can do,” said Singleton. “Honestly, I miss football. But I want to play basketball because I love basketball.”

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