Muslim college basketball star Antonio â€œScoopâ€ Jardineâ€ was the second-half catalyst for his Syracuse University basketball team as they overpowered Kansas State University 75-59 to reach the Sweet 16 of the Menâ€™s NCAA Tournament. â€œBasketball is two halves,â€ said Jardine to the CBS broadcast team after the game. â€œThe first half, I was sped up a little bit, the defense did a great job of controlling me and not letting me get into the paint to get shots that I want. In the second half, coach told me to take my time and take the shots if they give them to me. The first play of the second half, I came out knocked down a shot and got my rhythm going. I was just aggressive from there on out.â€
Jardine was born and raised in Philadelphia. His senior year in high school, he led his team to the Philadelphia Catholic League championship and a number 24 national ranking. And by the time he was done in Philly, he was the 58th ranked high school senior basketball player in the country according to Rivals.com, thus attracting the attention of the vaunted Syracuse basketball program.
However, Jardine did not star right away at SU. He had to exhibit patience and bide his time. Finally, in his junior year he took the reins of the starting point guard job. And, he has been the heart and soul of the team ever since. Now, the fifth-year senior is trying to lead his club to the promised land in what has been a turbulent year for the Syracuse basketball program.
A supreme example of Jardineâ€™s wisdom beyond his years occurred this past weekend. Four-year-old Shane Barone had become an internet sensation in upstate New York with a YouTube video in which he is literally crying about the fact that his favorite player, Jardine, will be finishing up at Syracuse after this year. Well, Jardine subsequently invited Barone and his family to come to campus to meet him on Sunday, only hours after Syracuseâ€™s round-of-32 over Kansas State. During his visit, Shane toured Syracuseâ€™s practice facility and locker room, received a few Syracuse-themed birthday gifts from Jardine and even met several of Jardineâ€™s Syracuse teammates.
An NCAA tournament championship may be the immediate goal of Jardine and his Syracuse teammates, but Jardine has his eyes on a higher prize. Last November, when he was asked by the Syracuse Post-Standard what his dream destination would be, Jardine responded, â€œMecca.â€ Mashallah!