Jason Shelton soon decided after coming to Lipscomb University that he wanted to pursue a career as a basketball coach. He spent time working with some of the best coaches in the nation beginning with Don Meyer and including Rick Majerus at Utah and Ricardo Patton at Colorado. For the past 11 years he has been the head men's basketball coach for Freed-Hardeman University with a 225-136 record and eight seasons with 20 or more wins. He has decided to make a career shift and will begin the 2016-17 academic year as the boys’ basketball coach at Chester County High School. He spent some time this week talking with Lipscombsports.com.
What years did you play at Lipscomb? Who were your coaches?
"That is a loaded question. I actually played my freshman and junior years. I was a student coach my sophomore and senior years and the year I did my student teaching so I was there from 1986 through the spring of 1991.
"Coach Don Meyer was the head coach. I came in as a walk-on. I had torn ligaments in my ankle and broke my nose so I think Coach thought it would be better for me and for the other players if I didn't participate. I think he was scared I was going to hurt some of his good players.
"Two weeks before the season started my junior year he needed someone to run the red team in practice. There were three guys redshirting and some walk-ons Coach wanted me to coach them. Coach called me in his office and said, `Jason go upstairs and get some shoes because you are practicing today.' He didn't ask me if I wanted to play. It had been 18 months since I had played.
"I was a second assistant my senior year and my student teaching year. I got to go do some recruiting and some scouting. Coach Ralph Turner used me as another guy who could run around and see guys play. It was great to learn from both coaches as an undergraduate.
"I started out as a post player just because the other guys wanted to play somewhere else on the court. My junior year I moved to point guard."
Why did you decide to attend Lipscomb?
"I had been going to basketball camp there since the fifth grade. I grew up in Coopertown, Tennessee, on my grandfather's cattle farm.
"I wanted to go to school at Lipscomb because of Coach Meyer. I was going to get a degree there in speech communication because I wanted to go into broadcasting. After being at Lipscomb for about a year-and-a-half I decided I wanted to coach. I wanted to do for kids what Coach Meyer had done for us."
What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb?
"My favorite memory is just being a part of the team and getting to be part of the program. When I went into a game the crowd went crazy because everyone knew we were up enough to win.
"I was the guy on the end of the bench. I was the Rudy of the basketball team. The students loved it when I came into a game.
"My junior year when I came back I dunked against Philander Smith and actually got fouled on the play. There is video of this on the Internet. I hit the free throw which is even more impressive for me.
"I think we were leading 129 to 80-something at the time. The only reason I dunked was because I could not dribble well enough to keep my head up. I had to look down at the ball. I didn't know anyone was there in front of me. If I had known that I wouldn't have attempted to dunk.
"On the bench for the next 30 seconds everyone was going crazy. The video is really funny."
Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Lipscomb? How?
"By far, it was Coach Meyer. No one else is even close.
"Three men have influenced my life. My Dad (J.L.), my grandfather (Mac Felts) and Coach Meyer.
"I came to camp at Lipscomb because it was about fundamentals and trying to be a better player. It was also about life lessons. We worked hard, but it was really fun.
"It was all about how Coach wanted you to work. It was the same culture I had grown up with on the farm. You had to work at it. That is what drew me to Coach.
"My program at Freed-Hardeman has been modeled as much as I could on what Coach Meyer taught us. I learned how to work hard and how to not quit from my Dad and my grandfather. I learned the same thing from Coach."
What is your fondest non-athletic memory from your time at Lipscomb?
"Hanging out with the guys in the dorm whether it was the guys on the team or just people that I knew.
"I am kind of a people person. It was great to hang out and talk about things.
"It was the people and how they treated you.
"Harold Hazelip was president while I was there. Someone asked me if I felt like I knew the president of Lipscomb when I was there. I said I did because President Hazelip walked around campus and talked to students. He made you feel like he was glad that you were there. That was kind of the mentality at Lipscomb.
"It was the place for me because people were nice and they treated you in a way that they were glad you were there. And that went from President Hazelip down to everyone you came in contact with like Jeannie Johnson in the P.E. office and Mary Carrigan in athletics.
"I was a kid coming off a cattle farm in Coopertown, Tennessee. They were people who cared about you and that made you want to be part of something."
What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Lipscomb?
"The development of my own spirituality. I have talked to kids I recruit here. They grew up hearing some things and being part of a church with their parents.
"But when you get out somewhere, and it becomes your own (beliefs), it challenges you a little bit. I worked as a youth minister when I was in college and really developed spiritually. It wasn't that I didn't have a great foundation from the little church where I grew up, but when you are on your own your spirituality has to become your own."
Who was your favorite professor? Why?
"Dr. Marlin Connelly and Dr. Paul Prill were teachers I had for so many classes in as a speech major.
"Wayne Garret taught a literature class that was awesome. He would pass his hat around the room and say the answers were in the hat.
"Dr. Robert Hooper would tell great stories in history
Dr. Gerald Fulks taught a personal evangelism class. I sat beside Brian Ayers. We had a notebook in that class. Dr. Fulks was a nice guy."
Where do you live now?
Who is your employer? What is your occupation? What does your position entail?
"I am going to be coaching boys’ basketball at Chester County High School which is about a mile down the road from Freed-Hardeman.
"I have been here at Freed Hardeman for 11 years and I have traveled a great deal. I have been away from my family for a lot of things. We will have kids in our house for the next seven years and by taking this job I won't have to miss any of the things they might be doing.
"If there is a soccer match, a softball game or a play I will be around for it.
"In the spring of 1991 I taught eighth grade Bible at the David Lipscomb campus school. I was a middle school basketball and an assistant high school basketball coach.
"When Coach Turner left for Union in 1994 I was an assistant coach for Coach Meyer until he left the school. I was an assistant coach at Utah from 1999-2001 and then was an assistant coach at Colorado.
"In the spring of 2005 I came to Freed Hardeman."
Tell us about your family.
"My wife, Melanie, and I have four kids, two sons and two daughters. Our sons are Mac and Myles. Our daughters are Presley and Payton.
"Melanie teaches fourth grade in Chester County."
My email address is jlshelton2254@gmail,com