Easily regarded as one of the best players in the history of Texas Tech, for a long time, he could not even make the claim he was the best player in his own house, or in his backyard.
Jarrett Culver, the Big 12’s player of the year who is currently projected as a lottery pick in the ‘19 NBA draft, once had a major sibling problem, big brother J.J.
“Sure, I got him,” J.J. Culver said in a phone interview on Monday. “And he got me, too.”
In defense of Jarrett Culver, older brother J.J. is not 10 years his senior, nor is this a case of a much older sibling beating up a baby brother on one of the most famous driveways in Lubbock, the home of the Culver brothers.
Not too far from Lubbock, J.J. Culver is the Jarrett Culver of Wayland Baptist basketball.
In what must be a college basketball first, this season both Jarrett and J.J. Culver achieved nearly identical feats, and seasons, playing for teams on campuses separated by 48 miles. This season the two brothers did the following:
* Led their respective teams to conference titles.
* Each was named the Player of the Year in the respective leagues, the Big 12 and the Sooner Athletic Conference.
* Both led their teams to their respective postseason tournaments, the NCAA and the NAIA (Wayland Baptist lost in the NAIA Tourney on Wednesday night).
* Both led their respective team in points per game, assists per game, and rebounds per game.
J.J., a junior, averages 17.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game.
Jarrett, a sophomore, averages 18.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.
Texas Tech, which is the No. 3 seed in the West region and will play Northern Kentucky on Friday, is currently ranked ninth in the latest AP poll.
Wayland Baptist, which is currently playing in the NAIA Tournament, is ranked eighth in the NAIA coaches’ poll.
“Honestly, I’m just so proud of him,” J.J. Culver said. “We talk all the time. We text all the time, or Facetime. It was competitive between the two of us all the time. We loved to compete against each other, and we always had a good connection.”
There is another brother in this mix, who could have played college ball. The desire was there, the bigger offers were not.
Older brother Trey Culver had offers to play basketball on the junior college level, but instead he accepted a scholarship to compete in track and field at Texas Tech.
This trio are the sons of Hiawatha and Regina Culver, who run the Rising Star Baptist Church in Lubbock. A fitting name, no?
While Trey may not have been equals to his younger brothers on the basketball court, he could jump over them, ... and pretty much everyone else. He won two NCAA indoor championships and three Big 12 titles. He once jumped 7 feet, 7 3/4 inches, the fourth-best in the history of the NCAA.
“He graduated and now he’s jumping professionally overseas in Europe,” J.J. Culver said.
J.J. Culver, whose lone offer coming out of Lubbock Coronado was Wayland Baptist, has set a long-term goal to enter the ministry. His short-term goal is to play pro ball. Younger brother Jarrett is virtually guaranteed that chance, in the NBA.
All three of them are where they are, in part, because of each other. Competition amongst the brothers could be fierce, and often resulted the standard siblings fights, complete with shouting, tantrums, and tears.
Those days are gone, as are the 1-on-1 games.
“No, we have not played 1-on-1 in a while,” J.J. Culver said. “Honestly, we just get really competitive and we don’t want to hurt each other. When we played, we wanted to win, so we’d trash talk and we did whatever is necessary.”
All tears aside, it obviously worked.