By Andy Hui
“Fryer for Three!” was once a familiar phrase of national television and radio media that covered LMU basketball, as the high-scoring Lions under Coach Paul Westhead, made their way to an Elite Eight finish in 1990.
The third weapon in LMU’s arsenal behind All-Americans Bo Kimble and Hank Gathers was Jeff Fryer, a 6’-2” shooting guard from Corona del Mar, California. Fryer’s best shooting performance came against defending national champion Michigan in the second round of the NCAA tournament, where he made 11 of 15 three-point shots, a record that still stands today. A memorable moment from that unforgettable game was Fryer giving up an open shot on a fast break only to back up behind the three-point arc to hit nothing but net.
After graduating from LMU in 1990 with a degree in business administration, Fryer was drafted in the third round by the Albany Patroons of the Continental Basketball Association (CBA), a predecessor to the NBA’s current National Development Basketball League. He played seven years in the CBA, as well as the World Basketball League and overseas in Germany before moving on to coaching. Fryer began with brief high school stints in Germany and Servite High School in Anaheim, California and then served a year as an assistant at Azusa Pacific University. Fryer also spent time as a player’s agent, successfully negotiating and managing over 75 contracts for former college athletes playing basketball overseas.
His time as an agent led Fryer to work for a financial advisory and investment banking firm for several years. However, Fryer recently returned to basketball full-time. He currently heads Irvine, California-based Fryer Basketball Academy, working with young kids and AAU teams in Fountain Valley and Newport Mesa. He is sought after as a keynote speaker at business conferences, sport functions and coaches clinics, where he shares basketball skills, shooting techniques and life experiences. He also serves as director of basketball operations at Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach, where he holds camps, clinics and one-on-one skills training. “I’m thankful to have played for LMU,” Fryer says, “I have an opportunity to give back to the community and share with kids all that I’ve received from the game. If my experience as a player and coach can help guide others, I would feel a great sense of peace and satisfaction.”
While more than 20 years have gone by since the sudden and untimely death of Gathers and improbable tournament run that ended one game shy of the Final Four, Fryer acknowledges, “Basketball was my identity for a long time. It took awhile for me to learn that basketball is not everything. About 13 years ago, I began to find myself spiritually through my faith, which is now my identity — despite the fact that I’m losing my hair and have to watch my weight.” Jeff is currently active in several ministries for his church, Mariners in Irvine, and has taken several mission trips to Central America and Mexico.
Fryer continues to support LMU Athletics by donating his time for individual coaching sessions that are auctioned at the annual Lions Fund Golf Classic, and occasionally attends home games as his schedule allows. “Max Good and his staff have done a great job bringing the men’s basketball program back.” says Fryer. “His assistants, including Jason Levy, Myke Scholl and Chris Farr, are well-respected and hold strong reputations in coaching circles for their ability to recruit talent and develop players. Coach Good has the program moving in the right direction. The team is playing at a higher level, and last year beat some of the stronger teams in the West Coast Conference.”
The Costa Mesa resident had never heard of LMU prior to being recruited to the school where he became one of the most prolific three-point shooters in NCAA history. He still plays in local city leagues, but now finds greater joy in dishing out assists instead of scoring. “It’s not all about me anymore,” says Fryer. “In Coach Westhead’s system, I was expected to shoot every time I touched the ball. Most of the players in this league are friends that I grew up with. Because they still expect me to shoot first, I can get points on the board easier by passing instead.”
Fryer remains in the Top 10 of several Loyola Marymount statistical categories. He finished his career with 1,922 points, of which 57% came from long distance. In 2005, the 1990 Elite Eight team was inducted into the LMU Athletics Hall of Fame and Fryer himself gained entrance again, as an individual, into the esteemed hall in 2007.