I made the three-hour bus trip from State College to Pittsburgh for the weekend, excited to see my brother’s basketball team take on the highly-ranked Jeannette Jayhawks in the second round of the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) playoffs.
And, of course, I wanted to see Terrelle Pryor with my own eyes.
For months, I had heard about the 6-foot-6-inch quarterback from Jeannette High School who could run the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds. The talk increased when he decided not to sign a Letter of Intent on National Signing Day.
A true athlete, Pryor had been dominating on the basketball court, while waiting to make a decision on which college he would attend. It seemed to be the general consensus that Pryor’s decision to take more time to pick a college was a good sign for Penn State.
On Feb. 16, I arrived at the Baldwin High School gymnasium with my family and the families of my brother’s teammates at about 10:30 a.m. for a noon tip-off. Spectators started filtering in shortly after, anticipating a sell-out crowd.
The South Fayette fans saw a hard-fought game, worth every penny of the $6 they paid to spectate. Both sides played their hearts out through four periods and overtime. In Pryor, they saw a tremendous athlete—fast, strong, and agile.
They also saw one of the most disgusting and, quite frankly, disappointing displays of unsportsmanlike behavior they’d ever witnessed. It started before the tip-off and lasted well after the final buzzer.
He never properly was rebuked for it by the refs or by his own coach. Perhaps it was because he is considered by many to be the Prince of the WPIAL, the Duke of High School Sports, or the Lord of Gridiron.
In any case, I can’t remember when athletic prowess became a free pass to act like a jerk.
Pryor taunted the South Fayette players/coaches with a condescending laugh as they filed into the gym for the pregame shoot-around.
His Royal Highness then took time out of his warm-up to threaten the South Fayette student section, comprised of no more than 50 students, one of whom was dressed like Ohio State football head coach Jim Tressel.
“I’m going to kill you, motherf*ckers. I’ll see you after the game."
At the end of warm-ups, Pryor threw a basketball into the student section, where it hit an elementary school student.
Although he was quite busy with a basketball game, he was kind enough to take the time to repeat this threat at the student section throughout the game.
As the starting lineups were called, all of the players shook the opposing coach’s hand—except Pryor. He pulled his hand away and turned his head as South Fayette coach Rich Bonnaure reached out to shake it.
On the court, Pryor scored 24 points and had 21 rebounds. He also used a variety of racial slurs against the player guarding him.
After the game, the teams lined up for the usual postgame handshakes. Pryor went down the line and said, “You f*cking suck” to all the South Fayette players.
He then went over to the South Fayette student section and continued his threat of bodily harm and invited them to meet him in the hallway after the game, until a Whitehall policeman told him to stop, and his teammates finally pulled him away.
It is disturbing behavior for such a highly-touted recruit.
Two South Fayette students were ejected from the game for swearing at the refs. Shouldn’t the players be held to the same standard of behavior, if not a higher one? I have attended dozens of high school basketball games, but I have never seen another player’s behavior even closely resemble that of Pryor’s that day.
Perhaps more disturbing than Pryor’s behavior was the fact that his coaches and the referees allowed it to continue.
As lifelong Penn State fans, my family and I were very disappointed by what we saw in Pryor that weekend.
Pryor is obviously an amazing athlete. Everything that has been said about his speed and strength has not been exaggerated. Yesterday, in the WPIAL championship game against Beaver Falls, Pryor came up with 39 points, 24 rebounds, 10 blocked shots, and 6 assists. The win came just two months after Pryor led Jeannette’s football team to a state championship.
His behavior, however, leaves much to be desired. We can only hope that it is not too late for Pryor to learn some humility and decorum in college.