Saturday, December 27, 2014

Chenowith one of Jayhawks’ biggest fans

Former KU player Eric Chenowith

Former KU player Eric Chenowith


Eric Chenowith’s neighbors in Corona Del Mar, California, know where the 7-footer’s sports loyalties reside.

“I have a KU flag in front of my house. I wear KU workout gear to the gym. I go to the watch parties in Orange County. I am a total fan,” Chenowith, the 35-year-old former Kansas University center from Orange, California, said.

Chenowith, who played for the Jayhawks from 1998 to 2001, has attended numerous KU games in Lawrence and on the road since he’s left KU. He wasn’t about to pass up a chance to return for the recent 60 Years of Basketball Reunion, celebrating 60 years of hoops in Allen Fieldhouse as well as the four living coaches — Ted Owens, Larry Brown, Roy Williams and Bill Self.

“I thought it was great, really cool just to have those coaches on one stage at the same time. I think it was really special,” said Chenowith, who currently works as an insurance producer for Parq Advisors in Beverly Hills, California.

“It was great for the fans to thank all the coaches for what they’ve done. A standing ovation for coach Williams I thought showed how classy our fans are. This gave them a chance to finally stand and applaud coach Williams. I just thought it was great.”

Chenowith, who played for Williams, has become a friend of current KU coach Self. He attended the Final Four semifinal victory over North Carolina during the 2008 title season, having to miss the final against Memphis in San Antonio because of his Idaho Stampede NBA Developmental League game. Chenowith had an eight-year pro career playing with eight different NBA organizations, D-League teams and international squads.

“I had a ballboy give me updates,” Chenowith said, adding, “I love coach Self. I think he’s blown away anybody’s expectations — the national championship, 10 straight conference championships, that’s unheard of. He has done an amazing job. Second part to that, he’s just a good guy.

“I still keep in touch with coach Williams. I keep in better touch with C.B. (McGrath, North Carolina assistant) because he’s one of my peers. I still talk to Jeff Carey all the time, Ryan (Robertson), Nick Bradford. I saw (Jeff) Boschee at the Final Four. I saw Kenny (Gregory) last year at a game. I see Nick (Collison) anytime he plays in L.A. against the Lakers or Clippers. I talk to Drew (Gooden) from time to time. We went to a wedding together last summer. I talk to a majority of the guys who were there when I was there.”

An outgoing personality, Chenowith uses all his connections in his line of work. For the past three years, the former second-round draft pick of the New York Knicks has sold high-end life and disability insurance to college and pro athletes, entertainers and other individuals for Parq Advisors.

“Most all elite athletes do need disability insurance,” Chenowith said. “The main advantage is to protect future earnings. With student-athletes projected to be professionals, there are certain earnings there they should protect where if they have something catastrophic happen to them and they can’t play their sport anymore, they can make an insurance claim and recover what they’ve lost. That’s the main advantage of it.”

He said college athletes projected to be draft picks generally pay for the insurance through their school’s student assistant fund, or via a loan or have parents pay for the policy.

“There’s permanent disability if they can’t play their sport anymore and there’s loss of value where if they get hurt and sign for less money than they were expected to, they can recover what they lost due to the injury,” Chenowith said.

“I don’t think I can like my job any more to be honest with you,” added Chenowith, who will marry fiancee Bethany in September. “I have a great team of professionals I work with. I learn something new every day from the people I work with.

“Another great thing is I can see coach Self at the Final Four and have a conversation with him, at the same time get a call from an adviser from a player in the NBA for a policy and at the same time work with a hip hop artist on his insurance. That has happened in one day. That for me is the coolest thing, working with people behind the scenes who make everything click.”

Chenowith, who says he does miss playing basketball — “I really miss the games and preparation for the games” — has decided to not pursue a path as a coach. The former assistant coach at his alma mater, Villa Park High, decided a few years ago to enter the business world for good.

“My whole goal was to be a college assistant coach,” he said. “I started getting coaching offers and it just wasn’t going to make sense financially or logistically for me. I didn’t want to move out of Southern California again.

“It (coaching) has helped me garner a greater feeling of respect for coaches in college basketball who have grinded it out, who started as a video coordinator, to third assistant, to second assistant to first assistant finally to head coach. It’s a 10- to 15-year process. People don’t realize the time and sacrifice coaches make to go through that. I have a tremendous respect for those who do that. I basically scrapped the whole idea.

“They brought me aboard (at Parq). It’s my third year and to be honest it’s the best thing that’s happened to me. I’m very very happy and love what I do.

The 7-footer, who enjoys surfing, golfing, mountain biking and playing the drums, is optimistic this will be a special year for his Jayhawks.

“I think come January, February we’re going to take off and hopefully peak in March,” he said.

Self, meanwhile, says it’s been enjoyable getting to know Chenowith, who is fifth all-time in career rebounds and career blocks and 30th in career scoring at KU.

“Eric is working for a company that amongst the things they do they can secure athletes with disability insurance. Based on my limited talks with him he loves his job. He’s very outgoing, very aggressive and seems to be very good at what he does,” Self stated.


Michael Lorraine 7 years, 9 months ago

first one to post and I left out the "I". How embarassing.

Nathan Scholl 7 years, 9 months ago

I remember Chenowith's playing career quite well. He was a "can't miss" NBA prospect and had so much potential in his day. Then he decided to follow Dave Matthew's Band for a summer instead of work on his game and "partake" in the "goods" for the whole summer and went from "Cheno-with-it," to "Cheno-worthless," or so went the lingo in my household. If Eric had a thousandth of the heart and work ethic of his teammates at KU in his career, the Hawks would have won a title under Williams. I'm glad that Eric is a KU fan and has love for Coach Self and the team, but let's be honest. He never appreciated or fully understood what KU was all about. But, Dave Matthews and him are probably still good "BUDS." Enjoy Beverly Hills Eric.

Robert Rauktis 7 years, 9 months ago

DMB? At least it could've been the Dead. But what would a SoCal know?

Michael Lorraine 7 years, 9 months ago

That's funny. I've put you on my list of people not to mess with.

Nathan Scholl 7 years, 9 months ago

I'm so so sorry to hurt your feelings Brett. Are you sure we can't go to a conflict resolution class and discuss our emotions? Maybe I can take you out for ice-cream and we can become best friends? Because that's all I've ever wanted. For you to like me. Please?

Kent Kossoy 7 years, 9 months ago

Sadly, Nathan is correct. It wasn't as a stellar career as would have hoped. Either way why not have a Beer Summit. You can invite Eric. I hear the Rose Garden is available for worthless parties. ;-)

DaNeille Dani Davis 7 years, 9 months ago

I don't understand why KU fans on here like dissing a player who is loyal to their school and can bring attention to our school in parts of the country where no one thinks of us. Who cares now that Chenowith did what he did while he was in school? He is an ambassador of our school. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all. So many jerks on here bashing the people who write the articles or bashing the people the article is about. Be a good Jayhawk and shut the *#@% up. Rock Chalk.

Nathan Scholl 7 years, 9 months ago

Freedom of speech DaNeille, and all you other posters that feel so validated bashing my OPINION. Do you understand that, or is that past your realm of understanding? I have a right to my opinion. Grow up. I never said Eric Chenowith was a bad person, or that he isn't a good ambassador for the program. I just have a hard time respecting the careers of players who don't work hard at something I would do anything to be a part of. Go tell someone else what to do and you should know that telling someone to shut the * # @ % up isn't very nice. If you and Eric dated in college, I'm so sorry, I'm sure he was just the bees knees.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 9 months ago

It is typical of any fan on here who usually ends their post RCJH to attack the poster and not disagree with any realistic arguments to what you said. It just shows how many immature posters there on here. That "anyone" who says anything negative, even about the Temple game, let alone the factual things you bring up about Chen, are considered unacceptable. See you cannot boo anything if you are a true fan. Pathetic, like you said everyone gets a voice.

I agree with your posts, you are not alone, you are just not a blind, unconditional love fan. ;)

Don Johnson 7 years, 9 months ago

It is really amazing how many "can't miss" prospects never quite live up to their expectations, for whatever reason. I think it says more about how we rate people as prospects than the individuals themselves. Many KU stars from the past were never quite what we wanted them to be. Chhenowith is who he is and he had an eight year pro career and has found a job he loves. How is he not a success? More importantly, just like me, he loves KU. You go Eric! RCJHGKU

David Olson 7 years, 9 months ago

My wife and I met Eric during an NBA Summer League game in Long Beach in 2002. He spotted us in the crowd wearing our KU gear and game over to introduce himself. He couldn't have been nicer. We saw him again in Boise when he was gracious enough to visit our KU alumni watch party after a Stampede game. Full disclosure: I too was frustrated at times by Eric's and his teammates' play in the late 90s to the point I referred to that portion of Roy Williams' career at KU as the "Chenowithian Era." But that was not giving credit for the successes and victories (and there were many) they achieved, and for Eric's continuing loyalty and commitment to KU. Not all former Jayhawks have shown the same (what happened, Raef?) So here's my apology to Eric for being a snarky fan, and I'll try not to be too critical of the team after a bad game (though tempting after the Temple debacle). We are retired now and lucky enough to be able to spend time in Newport Beach. Next time we're there we will look for Eric's KU flag in his yard and maybe meet up while grocery shopping at Bristol Farms.

David & Bobbi Olson

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 9 months ago

More than seeing our guys develop into great players, I'm more interested with them getting a great education developing into great people. I'm really proud of so many former players being such great fans of Self and the team.

Gary Bedore 7 years, 9 months ago

Hi David and Bobbi! How the heck are you? How u been? Chenowith is one of my all-time favorite Jayhawks. He and Ryan Robertson of course. Nicest guys and two of the best "quotes" as we say in the business. Eric is KU's fifth-leading rebounder and fifth-leading shot blocker in history. 30th leading scorer. Lot of fans want 7-footers to do more, but he had a good career. In retrospect he probably should have left after his sophomore year, thus would have made some cold hard cash in the NBA. He's very happy now and I hope he and his fiancee have the best wedding. ... Hope you are well, David and Bobbi!!!

Kurt Eskilson 7 years, 9 months ago

Saying that someone is a great "quote" is a journalist's way of saying that a person expresses him- or herself in open, interesting ways. That's the opposite of people who are always very guarded about what they say and how they say it, so they're no fun to quote.

David Olson 7 years, 9 months ago

Happy Holidays Gary, and say hi to Ann and anyone else still around from my J-W days or Chuck if you see him. Bobbi and I are great. We were in Lawrence for the Florida game (amazing second half), sorry we didn't see you. Have you thought about a story comparing the monetary contributions of former KU players with what other players have done for their schools? Carmelo Anthony, Steve Kerr and Grant Hill have made significant donations to their schools but we haven't read anything about those types of donations from former KU players. All the best for 2015...

Nathan Scholl 7 years, 9 months ago

He sounds like a really nice person and I'm glad that he was so cordial to the two of you. I mean no disrespect to him as a human being, I just felt he could have done a lot more as far as work, as a player, to be sooo much better. I imagine it's not my place to rate him, he just always left me wanting more.

Rick Glover 7 years, 9 months ago

It is great to hear about past KU players. I am glad that he is doing well. I wonder how his back is doing. It is interesting how things that happen in our lives lead us down certain paths for a career. Wish him the best. It would be great to have a weekly article about past players.

Titus Canby 7 years, 9 months ago

Chenowith is an incredibly impressive and classy person. He's one of the most consistently derided players in the team's history, and he still loves KU. He could easily be bitter about all the fan hatred (including mine), but he funneled it into a decent pro career, an even better business career, and proudly waves the KU flag. Eric, you've won me over as a fan. Gary, thanks for the article.

Bill French 7 years, 9 months ago


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