CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Freshmen are expected to undergo a steep learning curve as they get acclimated to high school basketball.
Notre Dame point guard Jaidyn West is currently going through his, although it’s not nearly as steep of a curve as what most ninth-graders go through.
The son of Irish head coach Jarrod West and younger brother of current Marshall guard Jarrod West, the ND freshman has made quite an impression in his first two games, averaging 16 points and 5.5 assists to help the Irish start their season with a pair of wins.
“It’s been good considering it’s hard being a freshman point guard coming in and starting for a good program,” Jaidyn West said after the Irish’s 76-59 win at Parkersburg Catholic.
“Playing for my dad, it’s been good besides the little thing we had tonight.”
“The little thing we had tonight” that Jaidyn West referred to was a heated exchange between the freshman point guard and his dad during the fourth quarter of the convincing win against the Crusaders.
After a near flawless first half in which West had 12 points and five assists without committing a turnover, he turned the ball over five times in the second half. Several of the turnovers came in a 2-minute stretch of the fourth quarter that allowed PC to trim a 51-31 halftime deficit to 10 points with just inside of 2:30 to play.
“I told him he made two or three turnovers late because mentally he was frustrated with me,” coach West said. “He has to grow up.”
For the fifth time in the last six seasons, coach West is guiding a roster with his son on it. From 2014-2017, older son Jarrod West more than made his mark on the program. He capped off a memorable career by helping lead the Irish to a 2017 Class A state championship while also winning the Evans Award as the state’s top player.
Last season, ND finished 18-7 and advanced to the state tournament before suffering a double overtime loss to Trinity in a quarterfinal.
“I needed that year after we won the state championship and Jarrod left of not coaching a child,” coach West said. “It’s a great thing coaching your child, but it’s very hard. You don’t want to be too hard, but you have to show that I’m going to get on his butt harder than anybody.
“Same with Jarrod, I told Jaidyn how you handle coach West is going to go a long way how you handle daddy West.”
Basketball is a way of life in the West family. Coach West was a point guard for West Virginia from 1995-1998, averaging 10.6 points and 4.1 assists in 30.6 minutes per game as a senior for the Mountaineers.
Jaidyn West hopes he’s on his way to becoming the third guard in the family to play at the Division I level, and after the exchange between he and his dad Tuesday night, the elder Jarrod West could only smile.
“Tonight was the first episode. It was all fun and games,” coach West said. “I just gave him a hug and a kiss and I told him, ‘it’s one thing if you play power forward or center, but you play point guard.’
“He used to tell me all the time in the car after I hopped on little Jarrod, ‘Dad you won’t have to worry about that when I get there.’ And now I’m like, ‘remember that.’
“But we’ll be fine. He’s a competitor and has a high basketball IQ. He’s trying to tell me what he sees.”
What Liberty and Parkersburg Catholic — ND’s first two opponents this season — have seen is a point guard with a skillset well beyond his years.
After finishing with 15 points, five assists and five steals in his prep debut against the Mountaineers, West was efficient in the first road game of his high school career. He made 4-of-5 shots, including two 3-pointers, and 6-of-7 free throws against the Crusaders.
“He sees the floor well. He shot the ball very well,” coach West said. “His biggest adjustment is really not even an adjustment. It’s that we don’t need him to carry the load offfensively and he’s always had to carry the load offensively.
“(Against Parkersburg Catholic) in the first half and how he played against Liberty was perfect. If he keeps feeding those guys and can make timely shots, it’ll be exciting.”
West will benefit from playing with returning first-team all-state selection Gabe Zummo, a wing player with range well beyond the 3-point line. ND also has athletic forward Joel Maurer back, and the Irish have added Bridgeport transfer Tyler Hardesty, who has 43 points in two games, and Robert C. Byrd transfer Nate Helm, who’s averaging 12 points and 5.5 rebounds.
“We felt kind of disrespected by what our preseason rank was,” Jaidyn West said referencing the Irish being No. 7 in the Class A poll.
The road win against the Crusaders, who were No. 6 in the Class A poll, was somewhat of a statement by the Irish that they’re looking for much more than a seventh consecutive trip to the state tournament.
“It showed we can beat a good team on the road,” Jaidyn West said. “We played hard and played good defense. We’ll just try to build on it.”