Overcoming adversity is a strength for freshman guard JV Seat from Edmond, Oklahoma, and his strength shines brightly on and off the court.
Journey to becoming a Seat
JV was homeless at 9 years old before living at Boys Ranch Town in Edmond. After moving to the Boys Ranch Town, he started third grade at Chisholm Elementary in Edmond where he met Gabe Seat, Rob and Katie’s son. Gabe and JV quickly formed a friendship ending in JV’s adoption by Rob and Katie Seat on July 21, 2015. JV has never met his biological father and last saw his mother when he was 9 years old.
“Being homeless was a struggle to experience those things at a young age,” JV said. “Growing up, going to different houses, different shelters and then finding the family that adopted me that brought me into their family was great. But if the past didn’t happen, I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now, and it wouldn’t build me into the person I am today.”
JV and Gabe further deepened their relationship through their love for basketball. A love for basketball is in the bloodline of the Seat family as Rob played at Oklahoma Christian from 1996-2000, obtaining an 89-38 in his time as an Eagle. Rob coached Gabe and JV for numerous years and saw the chemistry develop between them on the court. In their four years on varsity together, the Edmond Memorial Bulldogs went 78-14.
“I always tell people our life was not the Blind Side movie like people want to make it up; that’s Hollywood that’s not real,” Rob said. “There’s real tough days, but I’m proud of the way those two have seen it through. They’re incredible on the court together. That’s something I really miss this year. I know it’s something that they enjoyed together. There was incredible chemistry having played so many years together and really understanding what the other one was trying to accomplish and do.”
The process of adopting JV was challenging but it started with Gabe inviting JV over on the weekends. From there, he was the Seats’ foster son for over a year before the adoption process concluded nine months later in the summer of 2015 before JV’s sixth-grade year.
“It was a process and one we didn’t see coming, but God had other plans,” Rob said.
At 6’3, 240 lbs, JV’s frame is more built for a tight end on the football field; however, he last saw time on the gridiron in eighth grade. JV had a freak injury to his femur causing him to forgo his football career and take a year off from basketball. He then hit the weight room and made the varsity team as a freshman, and he grew into his frame as a post player.
“All he did was work on his game and he loved basketball and he did a lot of it on his own,” Rob said. “He found ways to excel. He trained and he taught himself to develop his basketball skills and IQ, which are now his greatest strength. He’s an undersized player, height and length wise. But I’m telling you, this guy, you can’t measure his basketball IQ, his skill level, his physical strength and mental toughness.”
Seat’s hard work paid off in his senior year as he averaged 19.4 points per game, 5.9 rebounds per game, 2.2 assists per game en route to a 22-5 record, Class 6A state tournament appearance and becoming the first player in his school’s history to win the 2022 Gatorade Player of the Year.
“It was crazy,” JV said. “When it got announced, I was in Florida on a senior trip vacation. So I woke up later in the day, and I looked up and I saw all these text messages, thinking at first that I was in trouble because my grandparents and other people were texting. Honestly, I didn’t think that I was going to win it. But then after seeing that, it was great to see all the support and people were behind me and how other people were excited for me.”
JV’s received looks from the University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma Christian University, the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Wofford and ACU. Former Wildcats assistant coach Kyle Bankhead, now at the University of San Francisco, recruited JV hard after seeing his performance at an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) tournament in Birmingham, Alabama. Bankhead saw the value JV could add to his program and made a strong pitch to head coach Brette Tanner to offer him. On Sept. 14, 2021, Tanner listened to Bankhead and offered the senior. A month later on Oct. 9, he committed to ACU before signing his letter of intent on Nov. 10.
“That was a dream of his to have a Division I offer,” Rob said. “Now it’s interesting because all that’s worn off and now his passion is about how to get on the floor and help this team. I have no doubt he’s going to work his way into that sooner than later. That’s all based on everything I’ve watched in his life.”
Seat’s ACU debut came in the final 2:21 against Texas A&M in a 77-58 loss on Nov. 11. He was unable to record any statistics but the following Tuesday against Division III crosstown foe McMurry, Seat scored six points, three rebounds, an assist and a steal in 11 minutes.
Wildcats head coach Brette Tanner preaches ferocious defense as his team finished first in the country in turnover margin last year. Seat’s toughness translated into success against McMurry, and Tanner is hopeful it will continue to translate.
“JV Seat, I’ve been telling him to wait and be ready and the time will come,” Tanner said. “I put him in early tonight and the first thing he does is take charge. The way to get in the game early, is to play some defense, and he did that right off the bat. That’s why I started him in the second half.”
What’s next for JV
Rob Seat cares about being a great dad and is a dad first, rather than a coach. He described JV as a tough and resilient dude with a big heart for people. He was unable to attend JV’s debut at A&M due to coaching another basketball team on Nov. 11, but made the trip to Abilene to watch JV play against McMurry on Nov. 15.
“Unfortunately I was watching on the iPad because I was at another game, but I was watching the SEC production of it and it was incredible,” Rob said. “But I’m to the point I know what he can do and what he’s ready to do, and I’m just excited to see it play out.”
Coach Cowherd has personally seen JV change the game dynamically in his program and believes in JV’s abilities on and off the court. He and JV have known each other for close to seven years and consider each other family. He’s seen JV grow exponentially since he first stepped on the court as a freshman and looks forward to his journey at ACU.
“He’s gone through a lot of personal difficulties,” Cowherd said. “I’m just really, really proud of where he’s at right now. He’s trying to fight through and continuing to chase the dreams that he has for himself. If anyone had to face even a 10th of what JV experienced in his life, they’re hanging it up and going in a different direction. So I really can’t stress enough how proud I am of him.”
JV has faced many challenges in his lifetime, but his faith has kept him grounded. Even now at ACU, JV’s expectations are more personal than professional. Through five games, he’s made the most appearances of the three freshmen on Tanner’s roster.
“My goals and expectations are to become a better person both on and off the court,” JV said, “and just be close to God and to improve as a basketball player.”