Jallen Messersmith: First Openly Gay U.S. Men's College Basketball Player

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Jallen Messersmith has come out as the first openly gay men's college basketball player in the United States.

The Benedictine College center told The Associated Press this week that he revealed his sexuality to coaches and teammates before this past season, opening up again Tuesday to Outsports.com.

Jallen Messersmith Pic

Messersmith said Jason Collins did not serve as a "buffer" for his announcement, but that "it's awesome to have another person in my sport to come out [nationally] beforehand."

The 6'7" shot-blocker hopes to serve as a role model to others struggling with whether or not to go public.

"The big thing for me, why I wanted to do it, before the whole Jason Collins thing, is there weren't a lot of basketball-related stories like this," Messersmith said. "When I started coming out, I didn't have anyone to look to for advice or to see how their story went. People can look to see what happened to me - and there are positive things going on."

Brittney Griner, the top pick in this year's WNBA Draft, also admitted a few weeks ago that she's a lesbian, though she says it was never a secret among coaches and teammates at Baylor.

Benedictine is located in Kansas and is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, which condemns homosexual acts.

However, the university teaches that gay individuals should be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity.

Said the school in a statement yesterday:

"We support Jallen as a Benedictine College student and as a member of the Raven basketball team. Obviously, it would be inappropriate for us to discuss the private lives of students. As an institution we treat all students with respect and sensitivity."

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