Marist Basketball Walk-On Terrence Echols Shows Perseverance is Paramount

Growing up in the shadow of the Carrier Dome, basketball was never far from Terrence Echols’ mind. The Fayetteville, New York native attended Jamesville-Dewitt High School, a proud program that has produced talents like Brandon Triche, Andy Rautins, and Tyler Cavanaugh, all of whom made it to the professional ranks.

Echols excelled at basketball, football, and lacrosse in his high school career. Given the choice between the three and his upstate New York background, basketball was always the answer. Echols lived five minutes away from legendary Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim and his family.

“I’m great friends with the Boeheim brothers, Jimmy and Buddy,” Echols said. “I’d always go over to their house and play basketball, and we grew up playing in the same leagues, on travel teams, and eventually we played together in high school.”

Echols played AAU ball for Syracuse Select, and his Jamesville Dewitt teams were always competitive in one of the toughest sections in the state. In his senior year, he captained a team that had his friend Buddy Boeheim, who is now a guard at Syracuse, to a sectional championship and state semifinal appearance. 

Despite his solid play, The six-foot-two guard drew attention from only a handful of Division III schools. He knew he had talent, he just needed the proper place to showcase it. Marist College looked to be the perfect fit.

“I was really interested in coming to Marist because I wanted to study sports communication and continue my basketball career,” Echols said. “Unfortunately it didn’t happen. There were already three other guys who were walk-ons in my class, so there just wasn’t enough room.”

With one of his dreams seemingly crushed, Echols took another tough blow when he realized sports communication was not the major for him.

“I really wanted to get involved in sports com and broadcast journalism,” said Echols, who helped produce newscasts in high school. “My first weekend here I worked a volleyball game, I got my hands on a camera, and I realized this is not for me.”

In this situation, many people would have given up and headed for greener pastures. He sought out for greener pastures still in front of him. Echols became an advertising major and took a manager position on the men’s basketball team.

“The program asked me if I wanted to be a manager, and I agreed,” Echols said. “It would keep me around the program and I could still feel like I was part of the team and feel close to the guys.”

When Echols arrived at Marist, Mike Maker was in the final year of his 28-97 stint as head coach. His replacement, John Dunne, recognized Echols’ hard work and determination.

“Coach told me he needed extra guys, and I had expressed interest in walking on for him,” noted Echols. “But there weren’t enough spots. He told me to stick around and keep working at it.”

Echols spent three years as a team manager, a position that can be thankless at times. Though he did things like plan post-game meals and give out water during timeouts, much of his time was spent on the floor.

“Most of the time I was helping out with drills in practice,” said Echols. “If they needed an extra rebounder or defender, I was the guy. In my junior year, I was actually out there playing in a jersey.”

Though being a manager has its demands, Echols found time to start a podcast the summer after his sophomore year. The Echols Unlimited Podcast focuses on basketball with its host interviewing members of the Marist Basketball team and other people in the industry like Tyler Cavanaugh, who went to the same high school as Echols and played in the NBA for two seasons before heading overseas.

“The podcast scratches the journalistic itch that I still have,” Echols said. “I get to do some writing and interview some interesting people. It’s definitely been great for me and it has been a great way to pass the time when there isn’t anything to do.”

In his three years as a manager, Echols learned many valuable lessons that would help him if his time ever came.

“I learned that this is a cutthroat business built on efficiency,” Echols said. “You have to do your job, and you have to do it well, or else you’ll be held responsible. It is so important to be on task with everything you do, and it definitely helped me become familiar with expectations.”

Echols was sure to pay close attention during his junior year after Coach Dunne told him he would do everything in his power to get Echols on the roster. He continued paying his dues and in the spring, Echols’s dream finally came true and he made the roster.

“I’m so grateful for Coach Dunne and everyone else who made this dream a reality,” Echols said. “To officially play college basketball has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid, so I’m really looking forward to this season.”

As a walk-on, Echols knows his opportunities will be sparse, but he is determined to enjoy every moment of the season.

“I’m looking forward to every little situation that arises, even things like facing adversity as a team,” Echols said. “We know it’s going to happen in a year like this. I just want to help the team in any way I can.”

After school, Echols wants to go into a career in either advertising or coaching but just wants to enjoy whatever the future holds. For now, he just wants to relish his senior year. After all the hard work he has put in to get to where he is, who can blame him?

Edited by Nick Stanziale & Dave Connelly

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