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Former Hoops Star Houston ’23 Bringing Emerson Experience to Skyforce

Jarred Houston runs on the basketball court
Jarred Houston ’22 (Photo by Justin Schmalholz)

Jarred Houston ’22 is now using the experiences he gained patrolling the lane for the Emerson men’s basketball team at the professional level.

Following a historic career with the Lions, during which Houston accumulated more than 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 points, and earned a spot on the 25 Year All-NEWMAC team, Houston transitioned to the sidelines.

“I knew I always wanted to work in basketball,” said Houston. “I wanted to get into coaching at some point, so after the season ended last year, I knew it was the end of my playing career and I wanted to work in the NBA.” 

Houston’s dream swiftly became a reality when, in September, he joined the Sioux Falls [South Dakota] Skyforce, the G League affiliate of the NBA’s Miami Heat, as an assistant coach and player development intern.

“I love it out here in Sioux Falls, everyone on the staff is really good, I feel like I’ve learned a lot from everyone,” said Houston. “It’s a great place to be and a great organization.” 

Jarred Houston headshot

Houston has long had his eyes on working in the NBA. As Houston was coming out of high school, Emerson’s Head Coach Bill Curley had made it a priority to bring him to Emerson. One significant factor that influenced Houston’s decision was the valuable experience Curley brought from his NBA days.

“Curley himself played in the NBA in my position as a center, so I just figured there is no better way for a big man to learn than from someone who did it at the highest level,” said Houston. “Curley and the rest of my coaches really helped me reach the goals that I wanted to from a basketball standpoint.” 

Curley not only played a key role in transforming Houston into one of the most dominant big men in Emerson basketball history, but he also played a pivotal role in helping him recognize his passion for coaching.

“Being around Coach Curley sparked the idea of coaching, that this would be something really cool to do,” said Houston. “I watched him and his approach and his mindset of the game. He was a great person, not only from a basketball player standpoint, but also from a coaching standpoint. Being around him for the last five years really helped me out and shaped my knowledge of the game and how to see different things, and these are the tools that I took with me [to Sioux Falls].”

While at Emerson, Houston earned a Business of Creative Enterprises (BCE) degree, and plans on returning to pursue his Masters in Public Relations. Along with athletics and academics, Houston found being a resident assistant (RA) as a very valuable experience.

“I had a great time as an RA,” Houston said. “I met a lot of cool people, listened to a lot of cool stories, so it was a lot of fun.”

Houston found that the skills he developed as an RA helped him adapt to the new environment with the Skyforce. 

“I felt that [my time as an RA] brought me out of my comfort zone,” he said. “You make an effort to connect with the students, it helps me be more comfortable in uncomfortable situations.”

For Emerson students aspiring to work in the sports industry, Houston recommends being persistent. 

“Emerson has a wide range of alumni who are doing a lot of cool things, they are great people to start with,” he said. “I have plenty of messages where I may have messaged someone two, three, and even four times, and as a result I had a chance to talk to someone really cool that I would not have had the chance to talk to if I just gave up after the first time.”

Most importantly, he recommends staying true to yourself. 

“Be very upfront, if there is something that you really care about, make that known,” said Houston. “Just be genuine, be authentic, and be persistent.”

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