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Former Bucs remember Geer as consummate teammate

Joe Avento • Jul 2, 2020 at 6:59 PM

Former East Tennessee State basketball star Major Geer was remembered as a consummate teammate who did whatever it took to win while leading by example.

Geer died Thursday in Knoxville, reportedly of complications after undergoing emergency heart surgery. He had had triple-bypass surgery more than three weeks earlier. He was 51.

“This is a very tough day,” said Greg Dennis, ETSU’s second-leading career scorer and part of the same recruiting class as Geer. “You couldn’t ask for a better guy, friend or teammate than Major. We lost a great guy, who was my brother, and Heaven gained one.”

Geer, a shooting guard, played at ETSU from 1987-91 and was part of three consecutive Southern Conference championship teams.

“My heart is extremely heavy and my soul is sad,” said Chad Keller, another of Geer’s former ETSU teammates. “We lost another great Buccaneer, father, son, person and true friend today. Major was one of the most humble and honest people you could ever meet. He led by example, not through his words. He was always positive and uplifting to all of us.

“He was considerate and kind, but also a huge competitor that would always stand up for his teammates, friends and family. I just can’t say enough about the person and man he was.”

Geer’s career was linked with that of teammate Alvin West, who arrived at ETSU at the same time. They scored their 1,000th career points on the same night and are still ranked right next to each other on the Bucs’ all-time scoring list: West 29th with 1,115 points, Geer 30th at 1,094.

West died in 2018.

“So sad,” said Mister Jennings, who ran the point on those teams. “Unfortunately, Alvin’s homegoing has helped me prepare for this day. Major was a family man that let his actions speak, a clutch shooting teammate that I have the utmost respect for. A sad day in Buc nation.”

Former teammate Calvin Talford found the news tough to take. Talford is still recovering from a heart attack he suffered seven months ago.

“That hit home, considering what happened to me and everything,” he said. “I made it through and I was thinking that he was going to make it through even better.”

Talford, who started at ETSU one year after Geer, said they forged a bond immediately.

“Major was top notch,” Talford said. “Me and him hit if off right away. He was a jokester, a prankster, just a funny guy. He cared about everybody on the team and always did whatever it took to win. He always had a positive attitude. That’s what I loved about him. Major was just one of a kind.”

Dave Hanners, one of the assistants on Les Robinson’s ETSU staff, had a hand in recruiting Geer out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

“He was an amazingly kind individual — smart, witty and the best teammate ever,” Hanners said. “He played the same position as his roommate for all four years and they were best friends and remained that way. That says it all to me.”

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