New York Post


LIU Brooklyn transfer makes up for lost time


JEROME Frink’s mind would wander because instinct wasn’t allowed to operate. Even the most impressive practices would segue to a seat on the sideline.

Having transferre­d from Florida Internatio­nal to LIU Brooklyn to be closer to his family, Frink understood it wouldn’t be easy to spend the 2014-15 season as a spectator, but he didn’t realize the extent of the frustratio­n he would face.

Every game he watched, he wondered what his presence might have meant. After each of the Blackbirds’ 18 losses, he wondered how many he could have slid to the other column.

“It wa s awf u l ,” Frink said. “I felt like more of a coach than a player. I had never sat down. I was never out. You don’t get used to it. You could only think about what you could do and how things could be different.”

In Frink’s first official week with the Blackbirds, the answer became obvious.

In his LIU Brooklyn debut at Loyola (Md.), Frink’s block in the closing seconds started a sequence that resulted in a buzzer-beating win, and six days later, the forward blocked two game-winning shot attempts in the final seconds, giving the Blackbirds a 78-77 win over North Carolina Central and a 3-0 start for the first time in five years.

Frink, who was named NEC Player of the Week, leads LIU in multiple categories, averaging 17.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks.

To coach Jack Perri, Frink’s start has been no surprise. It was simply a matter of waiting for his time — time that ticked past too slowly.

“Right from the start, me and the coaches would look at each other and be like, ‘Why can’t he be eligible right now?’ ” Perri said. “He does so many different things offensivel­y and defensivel­y, and he just has a very good background for knowing how to defend. He’s a tough kid.”

Raised in Jersey City, Frink naturally ended up at St. Anthony High School, playing under Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley and alongside future f irst-round pick Kyle Anderson. He helped the Friars to ba c k- to- ba c k state titles and a 65-0 re co rd during his junior and senior seasons.

Playing at the legendary school, recruitmen­t was routine, but one college’s opening pitch was overwhelmi­ng.

“[Isiah Thomas] came over to my house and we had a meeting,” Frink said of the former Florida Internatio­nal coach. “It was amazing. This legend and NBA Hall of Famer was in my living room trying to recruit me. I wanted to ask for an autograph, but I didn’t because I wanted to seem like I was profession­al.”

Frink soon saw the business side of college athletics when Thomas was fired in 2012, leaving him unsure if the appealing warm-weather school still would be interested. First-year coach Richard Pitino, however, continued the pursuit, bringing the 6-foot-7 forward to Florida before bolting for Minnesota after the season. Despite substantia­l playing time and solid contributi­ons to the Panthers, Frink started considerin­g coming home midway through his sophomore season.

Two years earlier, LIU had watched the nearby star from afar, recruited by bigger programs. Now, Perri had the opportuni- ty to add a player who reminded him of one of the linchpins of the school’s three straight conference titles (2011-13).

“He’s not Julian Boyd, I know they’re different, but there are a lot of similariti­es,” Perri said, comparing Frink with the former NEC Player of the Year. “I’m not trying to shape him to that, but he’s got the same big shoulders, he’s active and athletic, he can finish around the basket, he can step out and shoot and he’s a really good passer who can see the floor. He’s a versatile forward, who is a little undersized, but in our league, that’s perfect.”

Frink doesn’t say a lot, but says it all with a smile, playing more smoothly than his size and those shoulders would suggest. On a team with no seniors, the redshirt junior has emerged as a leader, hoping to reverse back-to-back losing seasons.

“I’m so used to winning and when I was looking at schools, I knew how they won three years in a row and I was hoping I could come in and add some more banners ,” Frink said .“We could be a championsh­ip team. We just have to build up championsh­ip habits. We know what everyone’s capable of.”

 ?? Mike McLaughlin/LIU Athletics ?? FAST START : LIU Brooklyn’s Jerome Frink is averaging 17.8 points a game in his first season with the
Mike McLaughlin/LIU Athletics FAST START : LIU Brooklyn’s Jerome Frink is averaging 17.8 points a game in his first season with the Blackbirds.
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