Jared Swopshire's return to a basketball court in St. Louis was a huge leap from his days at Fort Zumwalt West.
The St. Louis native found a spot in the Louisville starting lineup Tuesday night in the Cardinals' season opener and had career highs of 10 points and 11 rebounds in a 96-66 win over Arkansas.
"It was a big game for the team, and I was glad to be back home playing in front of family and friends,'' he said. "Not just for this game but for the start of a new season. I wanted to start on a good note.''
Swopshire was born in St. Louis and played his freshman and sophomore years at Zumwalt West. He moved on his own to Bradenton, Fla., and played at IMG Academy for two seasons.
He left as a 6-foot-5 guard and has emerged as a 6-8, 220-pound forward who helped Louisville to a 47-36 rebounding advantage Tuesday.
As a freshman last season, Swopshire played in 37 games but started only one. He averaged 1.4 points and 1.1 rebounds.
"I worked hard in the offseason and came in with a positive attitude and got the start tonight,'' he said. "I'm a lot stronger this year and my basketball IQ is improved. I'm trying to polish all phases of my game."
Louisville fans already had an idea of what he could do before donning a Cardinals uniform. He had a chance to play at Freedom Hall before arriving for college. His team lost in a high school event in 2007 as Swopshire tallied 33 points and 12 rebounds.
Swopshire had a huge impact on the first half against Arkansas as the Cardinals jumped to a 48-31 lead. He had 10 points, including two 3-pointers, and eight rebounds before the break.
He played a team-high 27 minutes and finished three for five from the field and added two assists.
Swopshire said he had 20 tickets for the game to divvy among his family members, who still live in the St. Louis area. He also had several of his former high school teammates in the crowd.