The Buddy system
Two games, one minute, one foul.
So reads the non-descript season stat line for Marquette University walk-on freshman Buddy Jaffee.
The Marquette Catholic graduate could be carving out a role at a small college somewhere, but the former Blazers standout is having a blast in his role as part of the Golden Eagles’ bench mob.
“I had some Division III, Division II offers,” Jaffee said Tuesday as Marquette headed to the airport for a flight to Hartford, Conn., where it will face Murray State on Thursday afternoon in the NCAA Tournament. “My sister went to Marquette. I loved the school and I loved the city (of Milwaukee). It’s the place I wanted to end up, but I wanted to play basketball, too.”
Jaffee’s senior season at Marquette Catholic hadn’t started in Oct. 2017, when he reached out to Marquette University about trying out for the team. The school liked what it saw in the 6-foot-3 guard enough to give him a spot.
“If they had said no, I probably would’ve gone to a D III or D II to play,” Jaffee said. “When they called back and said they had a walk-on position for me, I couldn’t pass on that. (Being in the NCAA Tournament) is amazing. It’s something I dreamed about, but I never imagined it coming true. To be a part of it is just unbelievable.”
Granted, the scout team role in practice and cheering duties during games is quite a change for Jaffee, but he’s adapted to his new responsibilities just fine.
“The way I look at it is, we’ve got an amazing thing going on and I’m going to do anything I can to help, whether it’s provide energy on the bench or get after it in practice,” he said. “Yeah, it was tough at first, it was definitely different, but it’s something I learned quickly and I’ve gotten used to it by now.”
Even Golden Eagles star Markus Howard appreciates Jaffee’s contributions to the Golden Eagles outside of the scoring column.
“Buddy’s personality is perfect for our team,” Howard said. “He’s always joking and laughing and all the guys really gravitate toward him. He means a lot to our team by bringing energy every day and putting the team first.”
Jaffee’s even had the opportunity to match up with the electric 5-11 junior guard who is among the national leaders in scoring at 24.8 points per game.
“I see Markus every single day and he’s unbelievable. He’s the real deal,” Jaffee said. “His ability to break guys down off the dribble and create his own shot whenever he wants, whenever he needs to, is unbelievable.”
Even better than former Blazers teammate Colin Kenney?
“Yeah, he’s a little better,” Jaffee said with a laugh. “Colin’s a great player, too, but they’re different.”
With so much camera attention given to team benches during games, players have become creative in their sideline antics, even developing group routines. While Jaffee doesn’t do anything choreographed, his favorite move when a Golden Eagle makes a 3 is to go down to one knee and wave three fingers, a la JR Smith.
“It’s pretty funny,” Jaffee said. “I did it in an AAU game once. It’s just whatever comes to mind, whatever comes naturally. We’re always really passionate, doing crazy stuff, freaking out. We’re counted on to bring energy every single game. That’s a big role for me. If things aren’t going good, sometimes it can be a boost. I try to take it seriously, but you have to have fun with it, too. You can’t take it so seriously that you don’t enjoy it.”
The Marketing major will have the hype ready when fifth-seeded Marquette takes on the 12th-seeded Racers, a popular Cinderella pick with its own backcourt scoring phenom in Ja Morant.
“It’s an amazing matchup of amazing players, but it’s a team thing,” Jaffee said. “No individual matchup takes precedent over the team. I think we’re about to play our best basketball. Everything’s been going really well in practice. We’re locked in on the same mission.”