It was a game of pitch and catch on the football field involving a basketball player, an assistant coach and a team manager.
Chester Frazier, the assistant, was playing wide receiver, and standing across from him at cornerback was Jordan Henriquez. This was a mismatch in a couple of ways. Henriquez, Kansas State’s 7-foot center, had a 10-inch height advantage, but Frazier, who joined Bruce Weber’s staff at K-State last week, had an edge in agility. During this instance, quickness prevailed over height.
“(Frazier) made (Henriquez) fall just from back pedaling,” Rodney McGruder said.
An assistant coach competing with his players on the football field speaks to the youth that’s prevalent on the Wildcats’ staff.
“We’re a young staff but I don’t think youth has anything to do with teaching basketball,” Frazier said. “We’ll actually have a better relationship with the guys because of that youth. I definitely think it’s a good thing. I’m going to be on them on the court. I demand their respect and I will give them the same respect.”
Frazier, who turned 26 years old in April, is the youngest of the coaches. And there are several advantages to his age.
“He knows what players like because he just played,” McGruder said. “Other coaches might be old. Some of them haven’t played for a long time so they’re not too hip to the way we go about things. Him having the experience a few years ago in college, he knows what we like and what we don’t like. He can get in Coach (Weber’s) ear if we really tell him something because he’s around our age.”
Frazier, originally from Baltimore, Md., not only can relate to the current players but also could be a wildcard on the recruiting trail due to his youth.
“I know a lot of the AAU guys on the circuit, I know a lot of the east-coast guys,” Frazier said. “I can relate to the kids a little better. There are advantages. Now, hopefully there aren’t disadvantages with parents and saying oh you don’t have any experience and stuff like that. But I think we’ll be fine. I think it definitely gives me an upper hand.”
Weber recruited Frazier to Illinois, where he played from 2005-09. Three years later the new K-State head coach found himself recruiting Frazier as an assistant to Manhattan.
“I was a (graduate assistant) for Coach at Illinois,” Frazier said. “He knows what I bring to the table, there’s a mutual respect there.
“We talked about (the K-State job) but I didn’t know how serious he was until he said (if) I offer you this job you’ve got to take it. He didn’t give me options. I’m just happy he reached out to me.”
Frazier always knew his future was in coaching, but this wasn’t an easy decision because he knew this would mean he’d be giving up the game he loved for good.
Just a few weeks ago, He was playing basketball overseas for the S. Oliver Baskets, a professional team in Germany. His team was in the semifinals of the German League playoffs when Frazier, who led the team in assists and was second in steals, made the decision to leave and head back to America in the midst of his team’s playoff run.
“It was tough,” Frazier said. “But being an assistant at this level was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. My teammates gave me their blessing. They knew that coaching was my passion and they accepted it.
“I wanted to coach. For my future I think coaching will definitely benefit me better now than later.” But is there a chance Frazier could get the itch to play again?
“I’m done,” he said. “I’ve hung my shoes up. I’m ready to start my coaching career.”
And if there are any critics questioning his experience as a coach, he can counter them by explaining how coaching is something he’s been doing since he started playing the game.
“I’ve been coaching my whole life,” he said. “Even as a player I was more of a player-coach. I played but I was more of a leader type. I’ve been kind of in that role for a long time. It just comes natural for me.”