After spending four years at Louisville, Jared Swopshire transferred to Northwestern for his final season of eligibility. He was a major player at Louisville as a sophomore, but tore a muscle in his groin between his sophomore and junior seasons and struggled to see the court as a junior.
He averaged 9.7 points per game and 6.7 points per game this year at NU and was regarded as the team’s best defender. He started the team’s first 24 games before a season-ending injury at Iowa on Feb. 9 — the Wildcats haven’t won a game since.
Swopshire was a sports administration major at Louisville and is majoring in sports marketing at the Kellogg School at Northwestern, where he’ll graduate after this year. We sat down with Swopshire to talk about his decision to come to NU, his time at both schools he’s played for and the future.
What was your official injury?
My official injury (was) my meniscus tore away from the joint capsule. It flipped up, so it’s basically a meniscus repair.
Going back to last year, when did you decide to transfer and when did you decide to come to Northwestern?
Well I knew kind of halfway through the season my senior year that I was going to have the option to graduate and transfer to any school I wanted to. So once the season was over, I just started looking at the schools and Northwestern was one of those schools that came up, and I visited here and it was just a great opportunity to play one season.
Where else did you look?
A lot of schools were contacting me. The only other school I really looked into was Wake Forest. So it was pretty much between them and here.
What ended up making the difference?
The conference. It’s a big-time conference, and I’m glad I came here.
Did you feel like you started of slow here, as some people were suggesting?
No, not really. It was just me trying to get used to my role, and as injuries happened my role kind of changed, more was demanded of me. I gave it all I had every time I was out there.
When you first went down against Iowa, did you know right away that it was pretty bad?
Yeah, I knew once I landed that it was pretty bad, but I still just wanted to try and get up and see if I could, but I just wasn’t able to.
Is it tough for you having to watch these guys struggle since you went out?
Yeah it is, because I know how hard they work and I’ve been through the grind with them all season, so I definitely miss being out there and helping my teammates. But all I can do is continue to encourage those guys and hope they can do well.
What part of your game has the team missed the most since you went out?
I feel like just the rebounding, rebounding presence, and just, defensively, a leader out there. Those are two things that I really focused on this season.
You had the best rebounding average at NU since Evan Eschmeyer. Is that a sense of pride for you to do that in just one year here?
That’s great. I really didn’t know that until a couple weeks ago when people told me, but that’s great. I was excited to hear that.
What’s been your favorite moment since coming to NU?
Just going through the new system and just getting to know my teammates has been the best part for me?
Do you think you fit better in this system than you did at Louisville?
Two different roles, but I definitely enjoyed this year more than any year in my college career.
Why is that?
I’ve been able to have a different type of impact in a short amount of time, and (I) just really, really enjoyed playing.
What are your plans after college?
I’m in that process now. So, I’m rehabbing hard to get back healthy and see what opportunities I have as far as ball after college, and if not I’ll fall back on my degree.
Have you looked anywhere specifically to play after college?
Not anywhere specifically. Overseas and stuff here in the States, so I’ve got people helping me out with that.
What’s the biggest difference between playing in the Big Ten and the Big East?
Really, there’s not difference. Now, of course, it is, because the Big East is broken up. But guys are talented in every league, and you’ve got to compete every night. You can’t take a night off because anybody can beat you.
Are you still in contact with the guys at Louisville?
Yeah, I keep in contact. We call each other every now and then, and those guys have been playing really well.
What did you think when you heard the news of Louisville going to the ACC? Do you think it’s good news for them?
Yeah, I think it is. Considering that the Big East is kind of torn apart, I think that will be a really nice move for them.
What’s it like playing in two environments that are so different from each other — the KFC Yum! Center and Welsh-Ryan Arena?
As a basketball player, there’s really no difference. Maybe as you come into college, but as you mature, it’s really about what’s going on, on the court. But, I’ve enjoyed it.
Do you think the graduate transfer rule is a good rule for the NCAA?
I think it’s what’s best for the player. If a guys has redshirted and hasn’t had the opportunity to play, and they have that option to transfer, I think it’s great for them to get the most out of their scholarship.
After playing a lot your sophomore year at Louisville, was the competition difficult when you came back from your injury?
Yeah, I mean every year you’ve got new talent coming in, so it’s competition. And so me coming off that major injury, it was difficult for me to kind of get in there when guys had already started, so I had a different kind of role when I came back.
Did your role at NU fit your skill set better than your role at Louisville?
Yeah, here I’ve had the option if I want to shoot from the outside, post on the block or take somebody off the dribble, I can do all that, and I think that’s part of my game, just a complete game.
When you came, did Rick Pitino encourage you to leave and was he supportive of your decision?
Yeah, all the coaches there were supportive of me. They were great to me for the time I was there, and they’ve even been great in reaching out to me through my injury. So I’m very appreciative of the time I had there.