COLUMBIA — Del Sutton remembers a call he got from his son a little more than four years ago.
"Dad," Jarrett Sutton said, "I think I made the basketball team."
"You think?" Del Sutton asked. "I'll tell you what, why don't you call back when they assign you a number."
He got a call back later that day: "I'm number 25."
When Jarrett Sutton was recognized before Wednesday night's Missouri men's basketball game at Mizzou Arena, he held up his framed No. 25 jersey to the Missouri student section. The crowd cheered loudly.
Jarrett Sutton is one of the team's eight seniors recognized before Wednesday's 78-72 win against Iowa State, their final home game at Mizzou Arena. He is one of only four of those seniors that has been with the team for four years.
Del Sutton got to be a part of senior night by singing the national anthem before the game. He said that his son set up an audition for him after Kim English and Laurence Bowers were impressed by a Christmas CD he had made.
"I was just glad it was on senior night because these kids are special," Del Sutton said. "They are a really great group of kids. I was honored, totally honored, to be able to do that."
Many Missouri fans know Jarrett Sutton's story. He tried out for the team his freshman year, but got cut. He thought that was it.
Then one morning during his sophomore year, former coach Mike Anderson and his staff were playing a pick-up basketball game at the MU Student Recreation Complex, saw Jarrett Sutton and asked him if he wanted to play. After a few weeks of playing with Jarrett Sutton, who played four years of basketball at Oak Park High School, the coaches were impressed and asked him to try out again. When he did, he was offered the opportunity to walk on to the team.
Now, Jarrett Sutton is still with the team as a walk-on, committing as many hours to practice as his teammates, but rarely getting the chance to play.
"I wouldn't have done it if I didn't love my teammates," he said. "I wouldn't have done it if I didn't love my coaches. I wouldn't have done it if I didn't love the school."
Even when he graduated with an undergraduate degree in business marketing last spring, he decided to pursue a master's degree and put his fourth year of basketball eligibility to use.
At practices, he simulates opponent's shooters and pushes himself and his teammates to get better every day. He spends most games on the bench cheering his teammates and yelling out to them when he notices something.
Occasionally he gets into the game. The home crowd always cheers loudly when he enters and even louder when he makes a 3-pointer.
"It just never gets old hearing the crowd," he said. "It's tough because you want to hit one for them, but it's tough coming off the bench when you've been sitting the whole time."
Jarrett Sutton only scored in one game this season, when he made two 3-pointers in the final minute of Missouri's 92-53 win against California in the CBE Classic in Kansas City. After the second 3-pointer, enthusiastic ESPN announcer Dick Vitale yelled, "Hey coach, are you watching this? Get me some playing time, baby!"
Jarrett Sutton got into Wednesday's game with three seconds left. He dribbled the ball while the clock ran out, then rolled it to a referee.
"For (Missouri coach Frank Haith) to think of me and throw me in there in the last three seconds, that meant a lot," Jarrett Sutton said. "That's the kind of guy he is. He knew that that meant something to me for that last home game, just to get in there and be on the floor with them."
After the game, he and some of his senior teammates took the mic and thanked the fans for their support.
"It's been a dream come true for me," Jarrett Sutton told them. He thanked his family, his coaches, the fans and the band. "We're gonna go as far as we can. We need your support. Love you guys, thanks for everything these past four years."
When his teammates were done speaking, he ran over to the band.
"I wasn't really looking for anybody (in particular)," he said. "They've been my biggest supporters for four years, always, and I wanted to thank them."