NEW YORK — Jarrell Holliman can’t help but get excited when he sees Smuckers’ Uncrustable peanut butter and jelly sandwiches sitting in the South Carolina basketball locker room.
The Gamecocks junior forward said that’s partially because he never had name-brand foods growing up, but also because South Carolina is not averse to what has become a craze in the NBA: eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before games.
“I feel like it’s something little, so if you just had a pregame meal but you don’t want to keep stuffing yourself with pasta and stuff,” Holliman said. “If it’s halftime and you don’t have time to eat something, but you’re feeling a little bit off, you can eat one.”
South Carolina’s basketball team is in New York City for Friday’s Sweet 16 game against Baylor. Tip-off at Madison Square Garden is scheduled for 7:29 p.m. ET. TV coverage: TBS. Baylor is the No. 3 seed in the East Region. South Carolina is No. 7.
Earlier this week, ESPN’s Baxter Holmes took an in-depth look at where the NBA’s obsession with eating a staple of children’s lunches came from and why it has spread like wildfire.
Holliman, who likes creamy peanut butter and grape jelly, said the Gamecocks have the Uncrustable sandwiches in their locker room at games at Colonial Life Arena. They also had a pile of them on hand for games in Greenville, S.C., last weekend.
“I eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before every game,” said freshman forward Sedee Keita, who likes his PB&J sandwiches piled high with strawberry jelly and a medium amount of peanut butter on white bread with no crust. He also sometimes eats one at halftime, saying “it fills you up pretty good.”
Not all the Gamecocks are involved in the craze. Freshman forward Evan Hinson said he stopped eating them because he “was getting fat.” But he did offer up a reason why players do gravitate to eating PB&J.
“It gives you energy,” he said.
Sophomore guard TeMarcus Blanton also isn’t part of the fad. But now that he knows it has become a popular trend in the NBA, he might reconsider his stance next time there’s a stack of PB&J sandwiches in the locker room.
“I’m about to start doing it if they are doing it,” Blanton said.