St. John’s Counting on Freshman Jordan to Have Big Impact
Rysheed Jordan may be the most important member of the St. John’s basketball team, but he wasn’t made available during the team’s media day on Thurday.
The school typically doesn’t make freshmen available, and no exception was made for the 6-foot-4 Jordan out of Philadelphia Vaux Roberts High, the highest-rated rookie in the Big East, although the school handed out quotes from Jordan.
“We’re just going to wait probably just a week before conference play, right around Christmas, which is appropriate you know, unwrap that gift as we head into conference play and at that point he’ll be`All-Access’ to media,” ” head coach Steve Lavin said.
“He’s charming, he’s engaging. You’re going to enjoy getting to know him over the course of Big East play and during his career here at St. John’s, but right now I just really want Rysheed to concentrate on his studies and on developing as a basketball player here at St. John’s and also to obviously be there as is appropriate with his family.”
Lavin indicated there were some “personal issues” with Jordan’s mother, Amina Robinson, but sources said she’s now out of the hospital and feeling better.
“I have a big family,” Jordan said in the comments released by the school. “My mom cares for my four brothers and two sisters. We all grew up together and looked out for each other. I’m the oldest of all of them. It took a lot out of my day. You have to pick them up from school, help them out with their homework while mom’s at work, feed them, then at night time wash them, put them to bed, then it’s time for school the next morning.”
He said he hoped to be a role model for his family.
“I’m the first one in my family to go to a Division I college,” he said. “For them it’s big, and for me it’s big. It just makes me happy to see I’m doing something that’s good that makes my little cousins follow in my footsteps. It’s like I’m really accomplishing something and they’re trying to grow up to be just like me.”
A three-time all-state performer and the Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Athletics Association (PIAA) State Player of the Year in 2012-13, he averaged 24.8 points and 6.1 rebounds last season.
While he could start alongside junior D’Angelo Harrison in the backcourt, it remains unclear if Jordan will get the starting nod at point guard.
“At the guard position, it’s hard to come in and get a lot of minutes like how he is going to get,” said sophomore forward JaKarr Sampson, the reigning Big East Rookie of the Year.
“We’re just bringing him along slowly and getting him used to our offense. As a point guard, you are a coach on the floor so you have to know what coach wants to do. We’re practicing slower and breaking things down for him. He’s going to be a very special role and he is going to have an important role. He’s a guard who can rebound and he can run the break well.”
Jordan committed to St. John’s over Temple and UCLA in April, and like all freshmen, he’s getting adjusted to balancing athletics and academics.
“I wasn’t used to it,” he said. “In college your body is more dead because you work hard in the gym, then you work hard in the classroom. Then you go to study hall and work hard there, then tutoring I work hard, then after that the day is mainly over and you’re just dead and ready to get some sleep.”
The good news is that he will be surrounded by an older, veteran team, especially in the backcourt, where he will be joined by Harrison, Phil Greene and Jamal Branch.
“I think Rysheed Jordan has benefited by having these older brothers to take him under their wings and help him with the process because this group of players didn’t have that benefit,” Lavin said.
“When D’Angelo, Phil and that group came to St. John’s, there were no upperclassmen to help them through this first season and understand the rigors and demands of the highest level of college basketball, just the increased workload. Now these returning players, these experienced players, more seasoned players can help a Rysheed on his journey that he is now on.”
Said Greene of Jordan: “He picks up things very quickly. We just teach him the ropes. He picks up things easily so it will be an easy transition.”
Click here for the video interview with Jordan:
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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.