AUSTIN, Texas — With a floater off the glass in the first half of Thursday's contest against Louisiana Monroe, senior guard Nijal Pearson became Texas State's all-time leading scorer, surpassing Charles Sharp, whose 1,884 points had stood as the record since 1960.
For Pearson, it's the latest accolade in a dominant career that helped turn the Texas State program around.
"The program didn't get going as far as winning until his arrival," head coach Danny Kaspar said. "We were making progress, but we really got over the hump after he got here."
Kaspar admits that Pearson's rise was unexpected. He felt Pearson was under-recruited and undervalued coming out of high school because many evaluators didn't have faith in his jump shot.
"Every year I've continued to progress and get better," Pearson said. "Not one person can say that I've stayed stagnant, that I've gotten comfortable, that I've stopped working, that I've stopped developing."
Pearson said part of his success was because he played for the memory of his brother, Nico Pearson.
"He taught me how to play the game, taught me how to dress, taught me how to talk," Nijal Pearson said. "Everybody that came across my brother, he left an impact on them because his personality was unmatched."
Nico passed away from cancer in 2010 when Nijal was only 12 years old.
"When I lost him, it was hard on me because I lost all of that at a young age, at an age where I didn't understand a lot of things," Nijal Pearson said.
"His brother was like his father figure," Pearson's mother, Stephanie Lartigue-Pearson, said. "They were 9 1/2 years apart, but his brother was his everything."
Pearson wears a jersey and a tattoo with the number 22, Nico's number when he played.
"I know my brother is proud of me. I wish I could hear him talk to me sometimes. Although it's been difficult – extremely difficult because I had to learn a lot of things by myself without him there to teach me and help me – everything I do, I do it for him," he said.