Eugene ‘Pooh’ Jeter is a professional basketball player and an entrepreneur. He is the co-founder of the lifestyle brand ‘Laced,’ and last played in China with the Fujian Sturgeons in 2020 in the Chinese Basketball Association.
A league that felt the effects of the Covid-19 not having fans and had to quarantine for two weeks, but according to ESPN’s Marc J. Spears, the league would have to shut down and set all of their players back to their home countries.
For Jeter, it allowed him to spend more time with his family and focus on partnerships with organizations such as U-Nest, which allows parents and grandparents to invest in their kids’ future, the Black Coaches Association, and Laced, which is only one 12 blacked owned boutique that has a Nike account.
Jeter recently sat down with LandonBuford.com to discuss how the pandemic has affected his business and what it was like with DeMarcus Cousins and for the late great Paul Westphal.
1.You have partnered with an app called U-Nest. Can you share with us the story behind the app is?
Pooh Jeter: U-Nest is a program where parents and grand partners can invest in their kids’ future. Baron Davis brought this company to my attention, and I became an ambassador having a college 529 for my kids. It is something that needs to be taught in our communities, and it was something that I jumped on because I want to make sure we leave the proper inheritance for our kids to have a better future.
2. You have been a strong supporter of the Black Coaches Association. Do you have any desire to pursue a career in coaching either in the NBA or at the college level?
Pooh Jeter: I’m a point guard and have been all my life, so I have been a coach on the floor, so, if you look at our board members Tina Thompson, Damon Stoudamire, Lou Richie, and Noelle Quinn, to name a few. So, by being with them more and having the knowledge from playing in every basketball league. So, I started saying, you know I could do this and be a coach. So, I have some interest from some people, so I think that is something that I can see myself doing in my next chapter. However, I am still a pro player, and I want to finish this out first, but if the opportunity presented itself, I would consider it.
3. You are also the Co-Founder of Laced, which is a lifestyle brand. Can you tell how the company was started?
Pooh Jeter: I have always had a passion for fashion, dating back to my childhood. My father is from Detroit, and he and my uncle were always dressing fly. They ensured I was flying to school, so I always had some of the best clothing because they were in it from elementary school. When I got to high school, I attended Junipero Serra in Gardena, California, and we had to wear uniforms, but I had to stand out by wearing the best shoes. So, I was always into it and was named best dressed because it was the free-to-dress day. It was a model show for me, and I’m over here at football games because my dad and uncle had me in Prada and all types of stuff. The time frame was between 1998 to 2002. So, I always had a thing, and my dad has always had his own business. He had his record store for a very long time, and my grandpa had his barbershop. So, I knew at the right age, and I had to start my own business. I’m Eugene Jeter III, and I knew that my dad and grandfather were bosses. So, I had to figure that part out. Once I could start transitioning, I decided to open up my clothing and shoe store with my business partner JB. So, we are the Co-Founders of Laced, and right now, we are the only blacked owned business with a Nike account. So, we are doing some pretty good things, and you never know what will be in stores until you do it. Having that account of Nike speaks volumes, and hopefully, we will be able to franchise and put in most black communities. I think there are only 12 owned black businesses with a Nike account.
4. Can you talk about how you could secure your Nike account as a black business owner?
Pooh Jeter: I think relationships rule the world, and I want to give my talks and glory to God. So, God put me in a position by going to Portland University and getting my degree. I went there and played from 2002 to 2006, and the headquarters is in Beaverton, and I think that played a part in them knowing who I am. Going to the University of Portland played a role. Just getting to give back to people in the city also played a part with some who were best friends with someone at Nike who was giving out the accounts at a time. Finally, my sister played a significant role; she is Carmelita Jeter, the fastest American woman, globally, and was the assistant coach in Track and Field at the University of Alabama. She recently took the same position at USC with the Trojans. At that time, she was one of Nike’s most prominent athletes, who also played a part in the female side. It also did not come easy; I had to earn the account they did not initially give me.
5. How as COVID affect your business positively or negatively?
Pooh Jeter: During covid, we had to shut down, and we could not sell Nike online and were having traffic coming through our store. So, once Covid came, that shut us down, and we lost momentum. It was a struggle around that time, and we had to keep pushing, but by not giving up, many things happened. I’m thankful for that, but Covid was a challenge. However, I am a person that wants to give thanks no matter the circumstances, but things happen for a reason, and I am happy that we were able to stay open.
6. What are some of the things you learned over these past two years?
Pooh Jeter: During Covid depends on high schools open for me to work out of ownership. It was more awareness because we started doing our Black Coaches Association last year, and we were in many Zoom Calls. We had black coaches join in from all over the world, and hearing that fellowship was an eye-opening experience and doing more studying. In the Pac 12, there aren’t any black head coaches. I think Ernie Kent at Washington State University was the last one if I’m not mistaken. There was something about our history, such as Juneteenth. I got the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my family. Usually, my and wife I’s relationship has been long-distance because I am still playing. So, it was nice to bond even more because we were able to leave the house. So, the routine has changed and allowed me to put more focus on other things. It allowed me to gather information and not to depend on other people to get things done. I was also able to acquire some property, learn new things, and meet new people.
7. You played with Boogie Cousins in 2010-11 with the Sacramento Kings. We see a lot of the antics that were shown on television and in media interviews. What was Boogie’s leadership style like in the locker room?
Pooh Jeter: At this time, he is 18-19 when I met him, but Boogie has always been a serious person. To keep it 100, if he rocks with you, then he rocks with you, and if DeMarcus does not, then he doesn’t. He is going to let you know that too. So, he had a couple of episodes, but he was learning, but with me and I am, I vibe with whoever. Whether It’s Francisco Garcia or Boogie, and was not able to do too much because of his age. Also, as I said, if he isn’t rocking with you, then he was not rocking with you. We had a fantastic relationship. I went to his birthday party that he had in Vegas with Hassan Whiteside and myself. We were the three rookies, but I was the order one. Just seeing the growth of both was terrific, but Boogie is misunderstood. He has grown so much as a player.
8.How did he help you get better as a player?
Pooh Jeter: I had a strong relationship with everyone on that team because we were all young. Rest in peace to Paul Westphal, he is from LA when I was at Portland State all four years he was at Pepperdine University, so I always had a great relationship with coach Westphal. Even at that time, Tyreke Evans and Beno Udrih were the main guards, but when it was my time to go to that court, everybody knew let’s roll and let’s run. We were a fast team, so that is why people love playing with me, but our communication off the court translated to our chemistry on the court.
9. You also played under the late, great Paul Westphal. Is there anything that he taught you that you still carry today?
Pooh Jeter: Just to be yourself, and he knew as being a scoring guard. He was like, I am not here to change who you are, just be you. Just continue to be yourself; yes, we have Tyreke Evans and Beno Udrih, but go out there and show people who you are. That is one thing that I won’t forget.
10. What were practices like with him at the helm?
Pooh Jeter: We weren’t practicing that long, he was more disciplined with his system, but you don’t get that much time to practice in the NBA because of all of the games. You get your introduction into your system of his principals in the preseason, but once it is time to play now, you must adjust the other team’s offense. We were a young team, so a lot of it was teaching, and you are playing three or four times a week, and there’s not much you can do in practice.
11. What advice do you have for the incoming rookies from the undrafted perspective?
Pooh Jeter: Have a plan and set some goals, but the only thing is we can only control what we can control. So, for the undrafted ones, hopefully, you have a plan. If it’s the G-League, I’m going to take that route and flourish. Hopefully, you are put in the right situation, and I tell all athletes now that you don’t choose basketball; basketball picks you, and I hope it continues to choose you because if you look at the drafted ones. Not all of them have an extended type of career, so you can only control what you can control. So, put that work in, I was up at six in the morning. I’m working practices, and people in Sacramento will say I was working even when I was not getting playing time, so when my time came, I was ready to showcase what I could do.