39-year-old war vet plays college basketball

January 13, 2011 4:38:01 PM PST
A 6-foot-4-inch freshman is trying to earn a starting center spot on the College of DuPage basketball team.

But this freshman is a little different: Jermaine Townes is a veteran of Desert Storm, and he is 39 years old.

"I figure if I work two times harder for the next season, he's gonna have to start me. He's gonna have to," Townes said.

Townes' teammates, however, are young enough to be his son.

"I want to be treated just like anybody else that's going to college and playing basketball," Townes said.

After high school, Townes joined the U.S. Navy and even fought in the first Gulf War.

He recently went back to school at the College of DuPage and learned it had a Division 3 basketball team.

I said, 'Coach, you've got a 39-year-old war veteran here. Do you have any room?'" Townes said. "I said, 'I want to try out.' And he was like, 'Come and see me tomorrow.'"

"And what I saw is a 6'4" guy who had some pretty good shooting touch. And with that, who knows where it can go?" said College of DuPage basketball coach Don Klaas.

For Townes' teammates, it has been an education.

"I didn't even know about Desert Storm until he got here, so that's a lesson to me, too," said Townes' teammate Anthony Campbell.

"Old School. That's what they call me," Townes said.

"He's always the first one here and the last one to leave. So that's big," said Anthony Campbell about Townes.

Townes turns 40 years old next June, and he says his game continues to improve. After playing here, he hopes to land a scholarship at a four year college.

"Let me play on your team for one year. I'll be the biggest cheerleader you ever had on your team," Townes said.

Even if he never ends up starting, Townes said he will be happy.

"Let me tell you something, I'm happy to be on the line. I'm happy to put on the uniform. I'm satisfied already," he said.