They called him “Big Cat” from Upper Tract.
But this gentle 6-foot-9, 250-pound giant named Jeremy Bodkin still resides in Morgantown and is remembered as an outstanding center on West Virginia University’s men’s basketball teams from 1990-93.
He had a huge hand in helping the Mountaineers to records of 16-12, 17-14, 20-12 and 17-12 under the guidance of coach Gale Catlett. Bodkin was elected a team captain as a senior.
Three of those four teams played in postseason — one in the NCAA Tournament and two in the National Invitation Tournament.
Bodkin, who was born in Harrisonburg, Va., grew up in Pendleton County and is a graduate of Franklin High School. He played football, basketball and baseball there.
“I really enjoyed playing basketball for Coach Catlett very much,” Bodkin said recently. “It was a great time of my life.”
He certainly was a very fine player for WVU.
Bodkin recalled, “It was a challenge playing center. I played against some guys who were taller, heavier and stronger than I was at times.
“Obviously, everyone likes to score points. But I also enjoyed rebounding. In Coach Catlett’s offense, it was my job mainly to pass the ball, set screens for others and rebound the ball.
“I just did what the coach told me to do because I wanted to play (as much as possible).”
During his four years at WVU, he appeared in 101 games with only 50 starts and averaged playing 17.4 minutes per game and 5.8 points per game for his career. He made 223 field goals in 467 attempts (47.8 percent), and 135 of 190 free throws (71.1 percent) for a total of 581 points.
Bodkin, who admits that his scoring slipped because other needs were greater, also logged 132 offensive rebounds and 361 total rebounds.
Other statistics included 72 assists, 68 steals and 59 blocked shots.
Bodkin graduated in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in business. He has been selling ambulances and some trucks in Morgantown for the past 11 years.
He and his wife Alicia have been married for 20 years and still live in Morgantown. They have a daughter Jordan and a son Dakota, who just graduated from University High.
Like his father, he played football, basketball and baseball as a schoolboy. Dakota is thinking about playing college baseball in one of the state’s institutions.
The youngster is about 6-foot-4 and has done very well as an outfielder.
He played forward in basketball.
They called him “Big Cat” from Upper Tract.
- Mickey Furfari
FURFARI COLUMN: Women’s finale fitting as all-time Coliseum great
If you weren’t among the thrilled, extremely vocal 5,502 fans at the WVU Coliseum last Tuesday night, you missed one of the most memorable sports events in that 44-year-old arena’s history.
The No. 7 nationally ranked West Virginia University women’s basketball team’s capture of the Big 12 Conference regular-season co-championship beating Kansas 67-60 on Senior Night was followed by a wild, wonderful celebration.
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He had made his coaching debut during a two-year hitch as a member of the staff at Glenville State.
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Dr. E. Gordon Gee, now the acclaimed permanent president of West Virginia University for the second time, has a history of national involvement in intercollegiate athletics as well as academic affairs.
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Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia University’s young head football coach, apparently has had a sudden change of heart toward the media and perhaps to those in a shrinking fan base.
With spring football practice starting on Sunday, Holgorsen has decided to open four of the permitted 15 practice sessions completely to the public as well as recognized reporters.
FURFARI COLUMN: Jim Ritchie was WVU standout in Jerry West era
Jim Ritchie, a resident of nearby Pt. Marion, Pa., was an outstanding basketball player at West Virginia University on the highly successful teams in 1958-59, 59-60 and 60-61.
The 6-foot-4 forward helped the Mountaineers to records of 29-5, 26-5 and 23-4. The Philadelphia native also played one year on a freshman team and was redshirted as a sophomore.
FURFARI COLUMN: McPherson recalls dramatic recruitment of Dale Blaney
Gary McPherson, longtime top assistant to former West Virginia University men’s head basketball coach Gale Catlett, recently recalled his somewhat dramatic recruitment of the great Dale Blaney at Hartford, Ohio, in the early 1980s.
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Did you ever wonder what is the all-time highest number of points scored in a boys’ high school basketball game?
Thanks to friend Dr. Larry Schwab, I found out who set the world record, and retired attorney John Skinner of Charles Town helped by discovering that person’s telephone number for me.
FURFARI COLUMN: Carey, Huggins have WVU teams on hot rolls
Coach Mike Carey of the West Virginia women’s nationally No. 13 ranked basketball team could be the best he’s had in 13 years at the helm.
“I am very pleased where we are this season,” he said earlier this week. “We have five seniors and they have done a great job leading this team.”
FURFARI COLUMN- Holliday has Marshall’s 10-4 team back intact this year
John “Doc” Holliday, Marshall University’s outstanding head football coach, was asked earlier in the week, what were the keys to his 2013 team’s 10-4 record?
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- FURFARI COLUMN: Women’s finale fitting as all-time Coliseum great