Even after their career as a basketball player has ended, most athletes tend to still be athletes. This is definitely the case with Walt Frazier, W'89. As passionate as he was about basketball when he was a student-athlete at Penn from 1985-89, it still rings true in his present life, one filled with his love of real estate and basketball.
The basketball came first. Frazier chose Penn because of the good combination of academics and athletics. He then made the best of those characteristics, especially on the basketball side, as he still remains etched in the Penn basketball record books.
"Penn had a good combination - a great business program and a very competitive athletics program," Frazier said. "Out of the Ivy schools, Penn always played the most challenging non-conference schedule."
As a senior in 1988-89, Frazier served as team captain, was named first-team All-Ivy League, Penn's MVP and led the team in scoring with 17.8 points per game. As a junior, he was a member of the All-Ivy second-team, was named Penn's Most Improved Player, led the Quakers from the free throw line, hitting 84.4 percent of his shots, and broke into the record books with the fourth-best three-point field goal shooting percentage for the season at 49.1. But it was his sophomore year that stands out the most as Frazier helped the 1986-87 Quakers win an Ivy League title and make his only trip to the NCAA Tournament - one of the most memorable trips Frazier ever made.
"The NCAA Tournament my sophomore year - it was a blast," Frazier recalled. "There's nothing like that - it was amazing.
"Watching the brackets come up when they put Penn up on the board was exhilarating," Frazier continued. "We were picked to play No. 1 UNC in Charlotte. Needless to say...(Penn lost, 113-82). The movie Hoosiers had come out just then and we went to see it for some team bonding and to try and get motivated. In the end, it was more for the experience. Not a lot of people get to say they played in the NCAA tournament."
After describing his favorite NCAA Tournament memories, Frazier went on to remember his best Penn memories, and of course, they have to do with none other than The Palestra.
"The best games were played at The Palestra and were usually city series games," Frazier said. "They used to throw toilet paper and streamers; all the games were really hyped up events.
"My senior year, we beat Villanova when they were ranked in the top 15," Frazier continued. "The campus was abuzz for a week - wherever you went on campus, people said 'Great Game'. I didn't realize that so many people knew about it."
Fortunately, a lot of people knew about Frazier and his teams at Penn. During his junior year (1987-88), the Quakers traveled to UCLA, Indiana and Notre Dame and hosted Georgia Tech and a tough Temple team. These nationally-recognized programs are still the type of competition that the wearers of the Red and Blue see today, which says a lot about the quality of the basketball program here at Penn.
"We played a lot of excellent programs while I was at Penn," Frazier said. "Junior year we played at Indiana the year after they won the NCAA championship. We also played a host of other really good teams. I think those games really prepared us for the regular season and for the conference schedule. Penn has a good reputation in athletics and a lot of it has to do with relationships between athletic directors and coaches across the country."
Frazier is currently the owner of WF3 Homes, LLC, a commercial and residential real estate company in Chicago. Frazier, who has always had a passion for real estate, has been at it for three years now, buying real estate, rehabbing it and reselling the properties. And although he is thoroughly enjoying his work in the real estate field these days, it's not what he started out doing after graduation. After a stellar career as a member of the men's basketball team at Penn, Frazier went on to play professionally in Cypress, Greece.
"As a collegiate athlete, you always hope to play on the next level," Frazier said. "If you don't get to do that, you always have your Penn education to fall back on. At the time, the feedback was positive to go to the next level.
"Playing professionally was great fun," Frazier said. "I was right out of school; not sure what I wanted to do and literally got a paid vacation in Europe. Basketball is very big overseas. There are packed stadiums everywhere you go. Visiting a foreign country is one thing, but actually living there is another. It was such a great experience. I learned a few greek words, but had to ask what the newspapers were saying under my photo."
After returning to the states, Frazier was the manager at Bally Fitness for eight years. Unfortunately, it never satisfied his craving for real estate until one day an epiphany overcame him. Frazier's father owned rental property in the Virgin Islands which the younger Frazier went down to manage. When he came back, he set up his own company here.
"I am definitely a people-person and this job is great because I get to meet a lot of interesting people," Frazier said. "I am constantly building relationships and the freedom of being my own boss is priceless."
Getting to the point of his life where he is happy and doing well in his career may have taken a while, but it was well worth the wait. Frazier credits several characteristics he picked up while he was a student-athlete at Penn for his successes in life.
"Discipline is probably the top thing you need to succeed as a student-athlete," Frazier said. "Time management is also critical. To be able to separate the two and have the ability to prioritize things is very important. I remember a quote over the lockers that coach (Tom Schneider) gave us - 'Anyone can have a good day. But consistency requires concentration, determination and discipline.' I really took that to heart and continue to strive for it everyday."
These days, Frazier continues his love of Penn and of basketball in his home of Calumet City, Ill. He still plays competitive basketball in a league with some of his friends and tries to work out 3-4 times per week to stay in shape for the tournaments he often plays in. Frazier also stays connected to Penn basketball through the team's web site, email news blasts and newsletters, which let him, and the rest of the Quakers' supporters remain connected to the team.
Since the writing of this article, Penn has captured its 23rd Ivy League title and will head to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in the last seven years. As proud as he would be for the Quakers in becoming another part of such an elite circle, Frazier had a few words of advice for the outgoing senior class that don't necessarily have to do with basketball.
"Always pursue your passion and follow your dreams," Frazier lamented. "You can do anything you put your heart and head towards; just believe in yourself.
"Going to a school like Penn was already a good decision - now pursue what you'll love to do next."
As the Quakers prepare to close out their season and hopefully make a strong run at a victory in the NCAA Tournament, Frazier and his friends in Chicago will be one of the lead cheering sections, because you can take playing college basketball away from Frazier, but you can never take Frazier away from the sport he loves.
Written by Carla Zighelboim, director of athletic communications