email Ehud Knoll
LEASURE TIME AT COASTAL CAROLINA
In the three-point era of college basketball, so often
the common trait of mid-major powers is the ability to
knock down the trey. Players such as Kyle Korver (at
Creighton), Trevor Huffman (at Kent), and Bryce Drew
(at Valparaiso) helped lift their programs to
unexpected heights and NCAA tournament success, by
becoming among the best 3-ball shooters in the
country. Now, another mid-major star looks to follow
in their footsteps, using accurate 3-point shooting
and an uncanny feel for the game to help bring his
program to prominence. Ladies and gentlemen, meet
Coastal Carolina sophomore guard Jack Leasure.
Who is Jack Leasure, you ask? Check out the nation’s
leading 3-point shooters – the guy at the top of the
list? Not J.J. Redick, not Randy Foye, not Adam
Morrison – but in fact, Jack Leasure. Last season’s
Big South Conference freshman of the year, Leasure has
stepped his game up as a sophomore, and the
Chanticleers have turned an 0-3 conference start into
a 12-4 second place finish. Going into next week’s Big
South tournament, the team has won ten in a row,
including a sweep of first place Winthrop, and this
Saturday clinched second place in the conference by
winning at Radford for the first time in fifteen
So how did a kid from McQuaid Jesuit in Rochester, NY
end up in Conway, SC to help lead a basketball
resurgence at Coastal Carolina?
Jack Leasure, introduced to basketball by his father
at the age of three, was not receiving any serious
scholarship interest well into his high school career.
A tremendous student in the classroom, Jack considered
Ivy League and Patriot programs as his most likely
college destinations, but a strong showing at the 2002
Beach Ball Classic, surprisingly won by McQuaid
Jesuit, caught the eye of Coastal Assistant Coach
Jamie Kachmarik. A scholarship offer from CCU soon
followed, and Jack was on his way to Myrtle Beach.
Ironically, the summer after his senior year, Leasure
was randomly introduced to a girl from Rochester; only
to find out she will also be an incoming freshman
Chanticleer. The two have been together ever since,
making their transition from Rochester, NY to Conway,
SC easier and more enjoyable.
Quickly growing comfortable in his new home, Jack
showed he would be a rising star in the Big South,
helping CCU hand league powerhouse Winthrop what
proved to be their only conference loss in 2004-05.
His 24-point, 5-of-10 three-point shooting performance
was a sign of things to come, and this year Leasure
has established himself as the premier long distance
shooter, not just in the Big South, but in the entire
country. His 118 long bombs lead the nation, and set a
Big South single season record, a record Jack hopes to
break in the coming years. With 2 more seasons,
Leasure could establish an unmatched legacy at Coastal
Carolina and become among the finest players in Big
The soft-spoken Leasure would be the first to admit,
however, that the ride was not always smooth, with the
low point coming in a home loss to Radford on January
21st. As the team’s best shooter, Leasure was holding
the ball in the final seconds, with The Chants
(pronounced “Shonts”) up by one, looking to ice the
game with free throws. Radford sent three defenders at
Leasure, and an errant pass led to a tipped ball,
turnover, and a Radford winning basket. By all
accounts, Leasure took the loss hard, but shook it off
impressively in time for the next game at Winthrop.
The Chanticleers rebounded from their 2-4 league start
to stun the defending conference champs on the road,
snapping the Eagles’ Big South Conference win streak
at 24 games, with Leasure hitting the clinching
3-pointer in the final minute. Since the victory at
Winthrop, the team has flourished, building a 10-game
win streak going into the Big South Tournament.
Regardless of the outcome of the conference
tournament, the program has clearly turned a corner,
buying into Coach Peterson’s philosophy of tough
defense, aggressive team rebounding, and utilizing
team speed and quickness to overcome a lack of size
(the team’s starters are all below 6-foot-5 in
height). It was clear that the only way to turn the
team’s lack of size into an asset was by utilizing
speed and focusing on rebounding and boxing out.
Despite the size differential, the Chanticleers are
rarely out-rebounded, and have been able to open big
halftime leads in many of the games during the streak.
On the eve of the Big South tournament, the program
looks to take another step towards prominence with a
tremendous opportunity at winning the league’s
automatic NCAA tournament bid.
Of course, winning the league tournament is hardly a
given, as Coach Peterson pointed out the Big South’s
league RPI is far better than any time in recent
memory. In addition to the tradition established at
Winthrop, programs such as Birmingham Southern,
Radford, and High Point are playing well and giving
big conference schools a headache on the road.
Winthrop is still the favorite going in, but any of
four or five teams could string together three wins
next week and find themselves in the NCAA tournament
in March. Coastal Carolina hopes to be that team, and
success in great part will depend on the hot shooting
and court savvy of Leasure, a role he welcomes and
looks forward to.
A classic “gym rat,” Leasure can often be found
working on his game on the hardwood with the team
manager, and the improvements in his play have been
fast and noticeable. Despite playing off-guard,
Leasure leads the team in assists at over four a game,
and is among the leaders in steals in the conference
at nearly 2 a game. Individual season accolades are
sure to follow next week, but Leasure’s focus has
always been winning games, and the chance to turn
Coastal Carolina into a consistent winner is an
opportunity he is not taking lightly.
With a gift for shooting the ball, the key for Leasure
has been getting open to fire away, and the coaching
staff has been impressed with Jack’s greatly improved
ability to read screens and find a way to get free.
Leasure has also worked on a left-handed floater,
looking to add a dribble-drive dimension to his game.
As he continues to improve, national attention is sure
to come his way.
As he looks to extend his shooting range, master Coach
Peterson’s defensive and offensive schemes, and pick
up on the subtleties that turn a good basketball
player into a great one, Jack can only see a bright
future for the program. Hoping to himself become a
basketball coach in the future, Leasure has seen his
college career take an unexpected cross-country
journey. From a lightly-regarded recruit, Leasure has
emerged as the star of one of the nation’s hottest
mid-major teams, and this young man is one to watch in
the next few seasons. Giving new meaning to the
expression “Leasure Time”, this Rochester Rifle has
his sights set on an NCAA tournament berth and a
golden age for Chanticleer basketball, and fans of the
game around the country would be wise to keep tabs on
his continued progress.
Ehud Knoll is a sfaff writer for collegeinsider.com.