Q&A with Mount St. Mary's men's basketball coach Jamion Christian

(Handout photo courtesy…)
August 14, 2012|By Matt Bracken | The Baltimore Sun

It took just eight years and four jobs for Jamion Christian to get back to where he wanted to be.

The first-year Mount St. Mary's men's basketball coach was a three-year captain at the Mount who graduated in 2004 and immediately started his climb up the coaching ladder with stops at Division III Emory & Henry, Bucknell, William & Mary and VCU.

But now Christian is back at his alma mater, where he has replaced Robert Burke and is tasked with leading the Mountaineers -- who finished 8-21 last season -- back to the top of the Northeast Conference standings.

In his first year back at the Mount, Christian will have several veterans to work with, including senior forward Raven Barber, junior guard Josh Castellanos, junior forward Kristijan Krajina, junior guard Julian Norfleet and sophomore forward Kelvin Parker. Junior guard Rashad Whack, meanwhile, is eligible after sitting out last season as a transfer from George Mason.

Christian also welcomes four freshman to Emmitsburg: Christian Crockett, a 6-foot-6, 210-pound forward from Houston; Gregory Graves, a 6-foot-7, 205-pound forward from Sterling, Va.; Melvin Gregory, a 6-foot-7, 195-pound forward from Lancaster, Va.; and Shivaughn Wiggins, a 5-foot-10, 160-pound point guard from Charlotte, N.C.

Christian spoke to The Sun last week about his incoming class, returning players who have stood out, his recruiting philosophy and more.

What was your first move after getting the job?

It’s kind of interesting. I wanted to get in and, I think because I’m an alum, I felt really loyal to the kids who made a commitment to Mount in terms of current players and even the recruits. I wanted to get in, meet the guys and see how they reacted to me, knowing I’m going to bring in a completely different culture and assess from the inside out. My first 10, 15 days there, I really looked deeply into the staff to see how players reacted to them and the level of respect for them. Then I wanted to see how they reacted to me and the change in direction. They’re kids, and they have loyalty to who brought them in there, to be honest with you. I wanted to see who’s going to follow me. I had to get to know them a little bit. That was kind of the first thing. Guys obviously wanted to show what they can do, and fit in to my vision of what Mount basketball should be. After that, I looked at the [incoming] recruits. I’ve seen Greg Graves play, being at VCU and William & Mary. That’s actually the only guy I’d seen. I didn’t know what Christian Crockett could bring to the table at the time. They had a kid … that was committed that I hadn’t seen play at all. I had to take some time with those guys and figure out what was best for them and if they fit in with me. And so we kind of went from there. I didn’t make these changes right away. I wanted to assess the guys there. They made a commitment to the Mount, and you try to honor that commitment the best you can.

What do you see in Christian Crockett?

Well first of all, he’s won a ton of games in high school. That’s important to me – getting guys who won games. He can really get up on the rim and he really wants to be a really good player. Honestly, at Travis he was sitting behind the Harrison twins. He’s looking at this as an opportunity to make his mark. A lot of guys come out of high school already so accomplished that they forget they have to prove something. Christian will bring the intensity every day to prove himself. I really like him and think he can be a guy who can impact the game even without a lot of minutes because he’s so explosive. He’s only one or two rotations away from changing the complexion of the game.

Gregory Graves from Northern Virginia is next on the list. What can you tell us about him?

Greg Graves just has an ability to play basketball and read and react. You can tell he’s played a ton. At 6-6 ½ -- I think we list him at 6-7 – he’s a long, bigger defender for us. Offensively, he’s a guy who can play the 3 and the 4. I’m looking for a really, really bright future for Greg with us because of his versatility. The way we want to play – up-tempo with guys who can guard different players on the floor – Greg has that versatility.

What do you see in Melvin Gregory?

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