Ex-Tiger Sneed takes visit back to Memphis

Do y’all remember Omar Sneed? Maybe.

He was simply one of the best forwards to play for Memphis during the late 1990’s. He played for only two seasons (1997-99). He could score and run the floor. Plus, he could play excellent defense. I was a kid during his time at Memphis, but I do remember him being one of the crowd’s favorite players to watch.

Sneed was in town for the weekend to watch his 13-year-old son, Jalen, play in the 13-under AAU tournament. His son is from Beaumont, Texas and his dribbles are off the chain. It was one play where crossed over his defender and spinned back into the lane before he knocked down a 16-foot jumpshot. Yes, it went straight through the nets.

From the stands, his father cheers him on. “Get some money then, J! he yells, then claps his hands in approval.

Sneed is now 36-years-old and this is his first trip back to Memphis since he finished his collegiate career at then Memphis State. Over a decade later, Sneed still remains one of the program’s top 40 career scorers despite playing only two seasons.

During his career at Memphis, basketball was very important and still to this day, it remains a big topic in his life.

At his age, he is still in good shape while playing overseas for over a decade. Age is starting to catch up with him because his hair is starting to thin. As a Tiger, he led them to a second-round NIT appearance as a junior in 1998, when he averaged 20.9 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. Since he left, Memphis has made nine NCAA appearances, including a national-runner up finish in 2008.

Until last week, Sneed had never seen the Larry O. Finch Center, where the Tigers practice and workout. When he came to Memphis, Finch was the head coach, but he didn’t get a chance to play for him. Finch was fired after the 1996-97 season and Tic Price took over from there. Before Memphis, Sneed had come from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas. To this day, Finch’s firing still bothers Sneed.

“Yeah, I was mad,” said Sneed. “I only had two years. That’s all I had out of junior college. The last thing you want to do coming from a junior college is go to a D1 school that’s going through changes. When I came here on my visit, coach Finch picked me up, we drove in his car, we went and ate — you know how he liked to eat — and he showed me the city.

“Coach Finch was real. Whether people liked it or not, coach Finch was real. He just told you how it was.”

With the coaching change taking place, it didn’t have an affect on Sneed being a productive player on the court. In two seasons, he scored 1,072 points and ranks third in scoring among Tigers who played only two seasons, right behind  Penny Hardaway (1,319) and Win Wilfong (1,203).

After college, Sneed went back home to Beaumont before playing professional basketball overseas. He played in Colombia, Poland, Israel, Greece, Turkey and Iran. In 2006, Sneed was named the Israel Basketball Super League MVP by the Jerusalem Post after averaging 18.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 4.3 assists to lead Maccabi Rishon to the league’s Final Four.

He has made some good money overseas, including some six figure deals, but Sneed is now leaning towards a new life. He believes that he is nearing the end of his professional basketball career. Besides Jalen, he is raising a 7-year-old daughter Kendall and a 2-year-old son Koi with his wife, LaShawnda, who is his former high school sweetheart who attended Memphis with him.

Back at home in Beaumont, Sneed coaches six different age groups of AAU teams under the name Team Sneed. He is wanting to give back to his community and give kids the opportunity that was given to him. Sneed returned to school at Lamar University and is just 21 hours short of receiving his degree. He wants to begin a career in coaching after his basketball career is over.

“I could see him coaching,” said LaShawnda. “I know that he’s dedicated to it. He likes to see them grow through his experience. He wants the kids to have the same experience that he did.”

I received this information from the Commercial Appeal.


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