JC transfer makes immediate impact

Sometimes, a clean break is the best solution.

After 20 years of familial turmoil, Portland State’s junior shooting guard Jeb Ivey took his work habits and fluid shooting technique and left California to start a new life in Portland.

Behind him, he left the pains that are associated with divorce.

Ahead of him, he is looking forward to the possibilities that exist in the life he has worked hard to create for himself.

“I have a pretty competitive personality, and that has pushed me on the court, and whenever I’ve had to face a challenge growing up,” Ivey said.

The challenges were numerous, with each of his birth parents absent for extended periods throughout Ivey’s childhood.

Through it all and at every level of competition, Ivey has been able to maintain the determination and maturity to not only compete in basketball, but to excel at the sport.

After averaging 17 points per game during his freshman year at NCAA Division II Sonoma State University, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound guard transferred to West Valley Community College, one of the west coast’s premier junior college basketball programs. There Ivey averaged 18 points and five rebounds a game on route to garnering a host of postseason accolades, including a spot on the California All-State team.

He also began to sew the seeds of higher athletic goals which would eventually lead him to the park blocks and Portland State.

“I wanted to try it,” Ivey said, of his aspirations of playing at the NCAA Division I level. “I worked hard enough at West Valley to believe I had a chance at the next level, and I wanted to take a shot.”

The results?

Ivey has started all 20 games for the Vikings, 8-12 (2-5), and leads the team in total minutes played and minutes per game. He is averaging 12.5 points per game to go along with 3.3 rebounds and draws some of the toughest defensive assignments on the court from his two-guard position.

For all of his scoring ability and defensive prowess, however, head coach Joel Sobotka relies on Ivey the most for his toughness and leadership abilities.

“I know he’s going to be there,” Sobotka said. “He shoots the ball incredibly well, and we certainly needed that, but I love having his toughness on the court.”

That same toughness has translated into the atmosphere of intensity that has enveloped the men’s basketball program since his arrival last summer.

“Guys on this team respect that he’s never done improving,” Sobotka said. “People know that Jeb’s a capable scorer, but the biggest thing for us is that next year he will be a captain, and this spring and summer he’ll set the tone for our players and making sure guys get in the gym and hit the weight-room. Those are the types of guys any program that wants to succeed needs.”

As for the family issue?

“The guys on this team have been awesome,” Ivey said. “We’re friends both on and off the court, and I know that whatever the situation, my teammates have my back.”

The Vikings enter the second half of the Big Sky Conference schedule ranked near the bottom of the conference, and to further compound the matter, key players have left the team for personal reasons or have been declared academically ineligible.

With a decreased player rotation and an inexplicable lack of consistency in conference play, a measure of expectation falls on the shoulders of a player who has proven he can carry it throughout the course of his life.

“We knew Jeb could be an impact player for us,” Sobotka said. “These last seven games we are counting on him to lead us into the conference tournament.”