NEW YORK — Jon Severe is only a freshman, but he’s already caused a few jaw-dropping moments around Fordham’s Rose Hill Gym.
“Obviously, he’s a freshman, he’s still learning all our defensive schemes and dealing with the intensity of practice but there are times when everybody in the gym will just kind of look at each other, players and coaches alike,” Fordham coach Tom Pecora told SNY.tv at Atlantic 10 Media Day Tuesday at the Barclays Center, where Fordham was picked 11th out of 13 teams.
“He’s been great in practice. There’s a Tom Konchalski expression, someone scores like we breathe and that’s kind of Jon. He puts the ball in the hole so many ways.”
The 6-foot-3 Severe was named 2013 New York State Mr. Basketball out of Christ the King, where he scored more than 1,000 career points and averaged 21.6 points as a senior.
In April, he surprised the recruiting world by picking Fordham over Pitt, West Virginia, Rutgers and Wake Forest in order to stay home in New York City.
“I think he’s a New York kid who made a really smart New York decision,” Pecora said. “I think he believed us when we talked about setting himself up for the rest of his life and being able to play games in New York. And none of those schools are in the Big East anymore. That was an advantage for us as well. So the Atlantic 10 having a presence in New York, playing this tournament in New York and 75-80 percent of our team are New Yorkers, so he’s with guys he feels comfortable with.”
Pecora said it remains to be seen whether Severe will start or not, but he figures to play big minutes at both the 1 and the 2.
“I expect big things, whether he’s on the floor to start or not, time will tell,” he said. “But he’s going to play a lot.”
With the new NCAA rules allowing coaches to work with players over the summer, Pecora feels that benefitted Severe.
“I think having the ability to be with us all summer, that’s the best thing the NCAA ever did,” Pecora said. “It just makes the transition period in the fall so much smoother.”
Xavier’s Semaj Christon was the A-10 Rookie of the Year last season, and Severe could follow in his foosteps this year, although he will have stiff competition from the likes of Rhode Island’s E.C. Matthews and others.
“Oh, yeah, very much so,” Pecora said. “This is a very competitive league and I know there a lot of great players coming in, I don’t know them all by name. But he has the ability, he has that skillset to do that.”
Said George Mason coach Paul Hewitt: “Best player in New York City, I would imagine he’s got a great chance at Rookie of the Year.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.