A few minutes with … Chester Frazier

Chester Frazier just joined the Kansas State basketball program as an assistant coach, but he feels like he has been working with the Wildcats for several months.

That’s not surprising considering he did a big favor for Bruce Weber days before he was hired as head coach.

Weber was considering taking the job, but wanted to make sure Rodney McGruder was returning for his senior season before he did. McGruder grew up in Washington DC, and Frazier (a former point guard for Weber at Illinois) grew up in nearby Baltimore. So Weber called Frazier, who was playing professional basketball in Germany at the time, to ask if he could get McGruder on the phone and find out if he was committed to K-State after the departure of Frank Martin. All while not saying anything about Weber’s interest in becoming the next coach.

Not the easiest of tasks, considering Weber’s request came at 3 in the morning (German time) and Frazier had never met McGruder. But Frazier delivered.

“My phone rang and it was Coach Weber,” Frazier said. “He said, ‘Chester, you have to call Rodney.’ All right what’s going on? ‘Well, I might get the Kansas State job and I need you to see what’s going on. He’s their best player.’”

Frazier took a moment to wake up and then called a friend associated with DC Assault, McGruder’s former AAU basketball team. He obtained McGruder’s cell phone number and had him on the phone about 30 minutes later.

McGruder was more than happy to talk.

“It wasn’t really weird,” McGruder said. “One of my good friends is friends with Chester. He said Chester was going to give me a call. I had seen him play before when he was at Illinois. I was cool with it. I was sitting on my couch watching TV. He was just asking me about my situation. I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll stick around. I love K-State.’”

The rest, as they say, is history. Weber became K-State’s head coach a few days later, and he was so impressed by Frazier’s connections (and overall basketball knowledge) that he figured he would be a good recruiter that he offered him a position on his staff.

Frazier moved to Manhattan earlier this week and is excited to get started. He was also nice enough to share a few of his thoughts on his new gig.

What attracted you to this job?

Being an assistant at this level was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. You know, when I was in Germany playing Coach and I kind of talked about it. But as time went on we got more serious about it.

No regrets?
No, I know I wanted to coach even though I still had the opportunity to play. But in the future I think coaching will benefit me more sooner rather than later.

So you aren’t going to miss playing?

I’m done, man. I’ve hung my shoes up. I’m ready to start my coaching career. Yeah, I’m a competitive guy and I still have a competitive drive. If I can get to the local rec and play some ball or hit the weight room I will be fine.

Was it hard for you to leave your team in Germany in the middle of the playoffs?

It was tough, but my teammates gave me their blessing. They knew that coaching was my passion. They accepted it. Those guys were like my brothers, and most of them I knew before I ever played with that team. That was a good group of guys and they gave me their blessing.

You took some criticism for leaving and didn’t seem too happy about it on twitter. Anything you want to clear up?

There’s really nothing to clear up. I’m here now and focused on Kansas State basketball.

It seems like you have always wanted to coach. Why is that?

I’ve been coaching my whole life. Even as a player I was more of a player/coach. I played but I was more of a leader type. I really wasn’t a scorer. I was a defensive guy. I loved defense. I have been in that role for a long time.

When did you and Weber begin talking about this opportunity?

We talked about it, but I didn’t know how serious he was until he said, “You know, if I offer you this job you have to take it.” He didn’t give me no options. I’m happy he didn’t.

You are one of the youngest coaches in the Big 12. Do any advantages come with that?

I’m not too far removed from college. I know a lot of the AAU guys on the circuit and a lot of East Coast guys. I can relate to guys a little bit. Hopefully there aren’t disadvantages with parents saying, “You don’t have no experience.” But I think it will be fine. I think it will give me the upper hand.

Have you ever recruited before?

At my position I couldn’t. But I’m a natural at it. I recruited guys from Germany to play for my team there. I helped out. It’s a natural gift, I guess … I know a lot of people, and I know a lot of people that know a lot of people.

How confident are you that you can recruit on the East Coast and in Baltimore?

Baltimore is my home town. I have a lot of respect for people from my home town. People are really happy for me. They congratulated me with open arms. Hopefully I will be in the mix for the top kids and Maryland won’t get them.

You and Bruce Weber are really close, right?

Yeah, that’s my boy.

Is he a father figure to you?
You could say that, especially because my dad passed in 07. Coach is kind of a father figure to everybody. He really cares about people. He’s big on second chances. He wants everybody to graduate. He’s a genuine honest guy, sometimes too honest, but he’s a real good guy.

Have any of the players impressed you yet?
J.O. (Jordan Henriquez) is my boy. I like his motor. Rodney is a really cool guy. All the guys, I think, coming into a new situation you get a feel for guys from Day 1. These guys all seem like good guys.

You have a decent impression of Weber. Do you do that in front of him?

He knows I make fun of the way he talks. He’s got that cold raspy voice like he drank a cold Coca-Cola straight down or something. He’s a great guy. He knows I joke a lot about him, but don’t tell him.

What do you want to emphasize in summer practices?

We are just kind of introducing some things. These guys play real hard, but we are trying to develop their skill set more than anything and get these guys a little more active and developed as far as skill work and footwork and ballhandling. They miss a lot of shots, but they rebound a lot of shots. We need to get them making a few more shots so they don’t have to rebound.