COLUMBIA — Jarrett Sutton doesn’t want to stop being a Tiger.
Sutton, who will graduate in May with an undergraduate degree in business marketing, still has one year of eligibility remaining since he was not on the Missouri men's basketball team as a freshman.
North Alabama Lions (5-8)
at No. 9 Missouri Tigers (13-1)
WHEN: 7 p.m.
WHERE: Mizzou Arena
RADIO: KTGR 100.5 FM/1580 AM
TV: Fox Sports Midwest
Sutton attempted to walk-on for the team his first year, but was cut. As a sophomore, Sutton was at the MU Student Recreation Complex, when the Missouri coaching staff asked if he wanted to play in a pickup game with them. After several weeks of playing against them, the Missouri coaches encouraged Sutton to try out for the team again. They offered him a roster spot.
"He (Sutton’s) one of those kids that wanted to be a Tiger, and he had an opportunity, and it worked out for him,” Missouri coach Mike Anderson said. “He brings a good commodity to our basketball team.”
Sutton said that after graduation, he will stay in school to get his master’s degree in either educational administration or health science so he can complete his eligibility with the Tigers.
“I’ve decided I’m going to stay,” Sutton said. “I really wanted to go out with the class I came in with. It would weigh on me if I didn't. I don't count having a freshman year since I didn't make the team, so it’ll give me an extra year to have fun and enjoy college."
Despite being a year older, Sutton joined the Tigers at the same time that now-juniors Kim English, Marcus Denmon, Laurence Bowers and Steve Moore all began their Missouri careers.
"When I’m older, I can work whenever I want, and I only get this opportunity so many times," Sutton said. "I want to take it for as long as I can, and we’re a damn good basketball team right now."
Through Missouri's 14 games this season, Sutton, who rarely is used in games, has played a total of 20 minutes. His last opportunity to play in a game this season could come on Wednesday night, when the Tigers host Division II North Alabama, in the team’s final nonconference game.
Playing basketball at Missouri was a childhood goal for Sutton, who grew up a fan of the Tigers, so he said that when he does get to run on the court, it's one of those moments that he said he doesn't want to pass up on.
“It’s crazy, in practice, I’m used to just playing, shooting, going up and down,” Sutton said. “Going into the game, you say it’s the same thing, practice to games, but it’s not. You get in the game and catch the ball and everybody’s holding their breath, screaming ‘Shoot it, shoot it.’ I’m looking to shoot, but sometimes I hate getting that stereotype of getting in and shooting all the time, but that’s what the fans want me to do, my teammates want me to do.”
But it’s in those types of situations that sophomore guard Michael Dixon Jr. said Sutton should be the only Tiger shooting the ball.
“In practice, Jarrett knocks down a lot of threes,” Dixon said. “He works as hard as we do every day, and he does everything that we have to do, but he doesn’t play as much. Everybody’s glad to see his hard work paying off, so we try to get a big lead so Jarrett can get into the game and play.”
So far this season, Sutton has scored seven points and has made 2 of 7 (28.6 percent) shots from the field.