PHILADELPHIA – When St. Peter’s freshman Clarence Rupert looked in the stands of the Wells Fargo Center on Friday night and saw his mom Makisha Banks, who came from Norfolk, Virginia, he knew what to do.
“She hasn’t been able to do any of my games for the whole season,” Rupert said. “My mother is a single mother. She takes care of me, my second brother and sister.
“Looking at her in the crowd, my eyes just brightened when I saw that she was smiling, happy, having fun. I keep saying it’s a blessing that for me there’s little now. I was just happy to see her. “
Next was the most important performance of the 6-foot 8 and 245-pound forward, who grew up in North Philadelphia. As “St. Peters” was early oriented in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 showdown with Purdue, he scored “Peacock” the first seven points and had 11 at the break.
Without an offensive lifeline and his persistent defense against 7-4 Zack Eddie and 6-10 Trevion Williams in the paint, especially with stellar forward KC Ndefo in trouble, the heroine of late-game Daryl Banks III and Doug Edert, which eventually led to them in the Elite Eight, it would be impossible.
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It was the last chapter in the epic history of the March Madness created by the Peacocks, which continues Sunday against North Carolina (17:09; CBS) in the Eastern Regional Competition final, with a ticket to the Final Four.
And it was not always certain that this would happen.
“nothing on the table”
Rupert, like all his teammates, was not recruited. And during his graduation course while playing at Miller School in Albemarle, the Preparatory School in Charlottesville, Virginia, had no offers.
“I didn’t have anything on the table, and coach (Shahin) Holloway called me,” Rupert said. “He said we saw how you play, we offer you a scholarship, we like the way you play, you are a serious player. I see you’re hungry.
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“We clicked as soon as we called.”
Now Rupert, who is averaging 4.5 points and 2.6 rebounds per season starting his last six games, will play a key role in maintaining the team’s historic post-season series.
“For Clarence, coming home is very important,” Holloway said.
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For Rupert, diva is everywhere now.
A lifelong supporter of the 76ers, Rupert first went to the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday morning.
“I confessed everything, even going into the locker room, it was like a couple of tears,” Rupert said. “I’ve always wanted to play here and I really play here. When we went to practice, I just stood there and took everything, looking at the rafters. “
Rupert and his comrades in the front zone face another difficult challenge against North Carolina. Dynamic domestic duo Armando Bacot and Brady Manek together scored 27 points and 23 rebounds in their win over UCLA at Sweet 16.
Much of this week’s story revolved around Peacock’s attitude and cruelty. And Rupert feels his basketball roots have helped him fit into a group that is working its third season together, while adopting Holloway’s mantra of defense.
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“We play there, without fouls, we play through each other. It really built me up. I’m a tough guy, “he said.
“I’m short compared to playing against the Seven-Foot, fighting every night. It was just a challenge, but I have no fear. “
And to have it all happen in this place, on this stage, is only appropriate during an NCAA tournament that has been held for centuries.