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: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing
Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.
FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors
Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
• A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.
FURFARI COLUMN- Most plays good, some not so good in Gold-Blue scrimmage
There appeared to be a fine mixture of plays, most good with some not so good, in last Saturday’s West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue football scrimmage.
FURFARI COLUMN: Blaney wins 100th Sprint Car race
Stringing together some odds and ends that may be of interest to you:
• Dale Blaney, the all-time great West Virginia University basketball star, has achieved another historic notch in his athletic career as a Sprint Car racer. He posted his 100th career riding in the All-Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Car Series at Attica Raceway Park in Ohio last weekend.
FURFARI COLUMN- What a wonderful evening with Dr. Stanley ‘Coach’ Kandzari
This column really is not about sports, per se. But, more importantly, it is about a widely known medical doctor whose nickname happens to be “Coach.”
FURFARI COLUMN: Turnbull endured many tragedies growing up
Coach Craig Turnbull, the latest head-coach victim of Oliver Luck’s shocking series of firings at West Virginia University, had generally enjoyed what many rate as an outstanding career not only in athletics but in life.
Like the present, there also were some very difficult times for him as a youngster.
FURFARI COLUMN: All-time WVU great QB Bernie Galiffa dies at 63
It was very sad to learn that Bernie Galiffa, one of the most outstanding quarterbacks in West Virginia University football history, had passed away.
The three-year letterman for famed coach Bobby Bowden died last Thursday in Wilmington, N.C., at the age of 63.
FURFARI COLUMN: Is $106 million in facilities updates really key to WVU sports success?
You may have heard or read that West Virginia University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is planning to spend $106 million for major projects.
According to published reports, that is to improve athletic facilities, including Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium and the WVU Coliseum (yet to be named for a rich donor).
FURFARI COLUMN: Who’s next on Oliver Luck’s hatchet list?
Who’s going to be next on Oliver Luck’s sad house-cleaning list as West Virginia University’s athletic director?
Craig Turnbull, the outstanding head coach and builder of the Mountaineers’ wrestling program for 36 years, was notified on Friday afternoon that Luck shockingly announced that his contract will not be renewed on June 30 for next year.
FURFARI COLUMN: Herbie Brooks one of Catlett’s early standouts at WVU
Herbie Brooks, a native of Beckley, was an All-Stater at Mullens High School and demonstrated his talents at West Virginia University from 1984-89 in men’s basketball.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound guard performed admirably under coach Gale Catlett’s direction.
- More Mickey Furfari Headlines
- FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing