Every important sports clip has it: the defining play, accompanied by the voice of the announcer who amplifies the excitement of what that moment means for sports history. For LMU men’s basketball, there’s a new voice: his name is Jesse Kass.
Since 2001, LMU men’s basketball fans have been listening to Jeff Lampe call the games. But after moving to Denver, Colo., Lampe has passed the torch to Kass, his understudy and an LMU alumnus.
“Jeff was a great help for me. He’s probably the nicest person I’ve ever met and he was a great mentor,” said Kass. “He took me under his wing right away. He was always extremely prepared and never flustered under any situation. The game moves fast out there, but he was always under control and that’s something I’ve tried to model after him.”
Aside from Lampe, Kass said his favorite announcers growing up were NBA announcers Chick Hearn, Marv Albert, Kevin Harlan and Ralph Lawler. Kass has listened to many of their broadcasts and has studied what they do and how they do it.
Kass will be a familiar voice and face for the LMU community when he takes center stage this season. He grew up in Santa Monica before moving to the bluff to attend LMU. A communication studies major, Kass was very involved with Lion sports before graduating in 2010. Through his work in the Sports Information Department as well as working with LMU radio station KXLU, Kass was initially the play-by-play announcer for men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball and baseball.
“My passion for sports ignited my passion for broadcasting,” Kass said. “Once I got to college, it was something I became interested in and it just kind of snowballed from there.”
As an established voice on campus, Kass began getting better opportunities in the athletics world. During his junior year at LMU, he was able to fill in for Lampe whenever he could not make a road trip. This allowed Kass to step in and travel with the team on a few occasions.
During his senior year of college, Kass was named sports radio manager, assigning radio jobs to fellow students. His performance with the basketball team his junior year allowed him to stay on the next year with Lampe during the 2009-2010 seasos. Kass and Lampe continued to do games together after Kass graduated as well.
Once he finished at LMU, Kass continued to pursue a career in broadcasting. He earned an internship at the Foxxhole channel on Sirius Satellite Radio, where he was able to host the talk show “After the Game” with NBA legend Gary “The Glove” Payton. Kass has also done some play-by-play for high school football in Southern California and wrote for Clippers101.com.
For Kass, the dream job would be doing play-by-play for any professional basketball team, especially the Knicks, Lakers or Clippers. But Kass likes where he is now, saying, “LMU is certainly not a bad place to start.”
This season, Kass will be back in the spotlight at Gersten Pavilion and will be traveling with the team every week for the first time.
“While Jeff can’t be replaced, we will definitely be able to move on. Jesse is an amazing young talent in the industry,” said Associate Athletics Director John Shaffer. “While he will not fill Jeff’s shoes – no one really can – Jesse has a style that is his, and LMU will be lucky to have him, I hope for a long time.”
Kass will be joined by Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Drew Rossi as the color commentator for most of the season. When Lampe was gone last year, Kass would slide over and do play-by-play with Rossi filling in at color.
“We’re supposed to be paired up for pretty much every game. So we will probably start to gel at some point soon,” said Rossi. “He’s really good at what he does, and I’m looking forward to working with him.”
As the players’ strength and conditioning coach and someone who sees them every day, Rossi brings good background knowledge and experience to the job.
“I can give the fans a little bit of an inside point of view from where I work with them day to day, what I see and how it translates to the basketball court,” said Rossi.
Rossi is in just his second year at LMU, but has also worked as a strength coach in the NBA D-League and as a personal trainer.
This duo will look to play a big role for the LMU fan base this season. “There are a lot of LMU Lions across the country. I hope my broadcasts keep that sense of community and keeps the LMU spirit alive across the country,” said Kass.
Kass is certainly excited for this personal opportunity, but he is also passionate about the team itself. He has loved Lion basketball for a long time and is pleased to have a front row seat to the program’s progression.
“Because we don’t have football, basketball is king here,” said Kass. “It will be tough to reach the level of the 1989-90 team, but we’re definitely on the right track. I think LMU basketball is going to be a force in the WCC for a while to come.