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WJU’s Fritts Also Stars in Classroom

Academics essential to two-sport standout

February 23, 2014
By DAVE MORRISON Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING - It's quite the balancing act that Wheeling Jesuit's Justin Fritts performs.

On a daily basis.

The sophomore not only is the leading scorer on the Cardinals basketball team, he follows that up by being a flame-throwing closer (with a fastball that has been clocked at 90 miles per hour) on the baseball team in the spring.

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Sophomore Wheeling Jesuit guard Justin Fritts is just as tough to deny in the classroom as on the court.

All in a days work for, but he is also a scholar of note.

As great as his game is for the Cardinals - the former Mr. Basketball in Ohio, who starred at Division-I (the state's largest classification) Mentor High - so is his GPA.

He currently is around 3.8 at Jesuit and was named Academic All-District.

"I like to think that my work ethic is the reason I'm able to do so well in the classroom," Fritts said. "It's all about balancing your time. If you use your time wisely, it's not a hard juggling act at all. My mom (Kim) taught me at an early age the importance of getting it done in the classroom. The education is the important thing. I try to keep it on an even keel and prioritize but academics will always come before athletics."

Not that the 6-foot-1 Fritts doesn't excel on the court and the diamond as well.

Fritts is currently leading the Cardinals in scoring at 18.1 points per game with a team-best 66 3 pointers. He also averages 5.1 assists and 4.0 rebounds.

Wheeling Jesuit coach Danny Sancomb is happy to have his contributions, no doubt, but is really impressed by his academic workload and the results he gets.

"He's taking 15 hours," Sancomb said. "It's time management. He puts in the work in the classroom just as much as he puts in the work on the basketball court. He was an outstanding student coming here out of high school and he is even a better student now. He knows how to manage his time and he knows how to prioritize."

As a Mr. Basketball in Ohio, he had opportunities to go to bigger places.

Jesuit offered a couple of things that he wanted. The opportunity to play baseball and Danny Sancomb and his coaching staff.

"Obviously, the opportunity to play two sports was a factor," Fritts said. "I really liked the coaching staff here. We made an immediate connection when I visited. These guys are all about winning and I just liked the way it felt when I came on campus. It seemed like I was supposed to be there."

Last season, on the diamond, Fritts had a 1-1 record with three saves and a 3.09 ERA. He struck out 19 and walked six.

Fritts said there was no contest as to which season is harder to balance academics and athletics.

"Basketball is much tougher," he said. "In baseball, it's a lot of weekend doubleheaders."

As a left-hander with straight heat, Fritts knows that baseball may be his future.

He knows there is no may be with academics.

"You can always tell the difference between guys who go through the motions and guys who want to be in the class and learn," Fritts said. "My family has always stressed the importance of academics, and it is something I take seriously. You can't fake it."

 
 

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