St. John's-bound Rysheed Jordan shows local fans what they'll miss

Rysheed Jordan led Vaux to its first state championship this season. He scored 31 points in an Albert C. Donofrio Classic game on Thursday night.
Rysheed Jordan led Vaux to its first state championship this season. He scored 31 points in an Albert C. Donofrio Classic game on Thursday night. (   STEVEN M. FALK / Staff)
Posted: April 13, 2013

Temple fans, don't even read this.

Rysheed Jordan started his day by announcing his college choice on Twitter, choosing St. John's, as expected. The latest Philly guard finished Thursday night at the Fellowship House of Conshohocken, and the people in the little gym on Harry Street - hoops cognoscenti of all ages - knew they were watching something a little bit special.

"He's a pro. He's a pro. No question," said longtime Community College of Philadelphia coach Dondi DeShields, now an assistant at Delaware County Community College.

Jordan, who had Temple and UCLA as his other finalists, put his whole game on display in a quarterfinal of the Albert C. Donofrio Classic. It came against a team made up mostly of Norristown High players.

Jordan and future Providence Friar Brandon Austin and the rest of Team Philly had to win the game four or five times. The Norristown guys weren't going away. Everyone in the place understood that.

Jordan eventually finished things off by stealing a cross-court pass and offering a backward dunk just before the buzzer of the 100-94 victory. He took a look first, though, to see whether a teammate was ahead, whether the play was to throw one up for someone else.

"The way he plays is so cerebral. All the things he can do, when he puts it together, that spells pro," DeShields said, sitting in the fourth row of the five-row bleachers.

Jordan - who didn't flaunt his college choice, wearing all Vaux gear - put it all out there, the seeing-eye no-look passes, the easy shoulder fakes and lightning crossover moves in traffic that let Jordan practically pick the spots on the floor where he wanted to end up.

But there was something else. Jordan didn't act as if this game owed him a win. At times, the 6-foot-4 Vaux High senior face-guarded Norristown's terrific guard Luke Kelly step-for-step around the court. If a teammate was open, Jordan got the ball to him.

"At any given moment, they could turn up on you and go up on you," Kelly said of facing Jordan and Austin. Of Jordan specifically, Kelly said: "He's just tough. He's got a lot of heart. He doesn't care who he's going against, he's got a lot of heart. He'll go right at you."

One time Jordan pointed where he wanted a pass thrown. He didn't mean to him. He wanted a teammate to get the ball. He moved to a spot to receive the next pass. That's what DeShields was talking about when he used the word cerebral.

He also hit a couple of NBA three-pointers. (There can't be any Owls fans still reading by now.) He caught one inbounds pass and fully extended for a dunk in traffic, but the ball just caught the rim, denying the highlight.

When it was over, Jordan had 31 points, Kelly had 27. The crowd couldn't complain about the $6 admission. (seniors $3, children $2).

Afterward, Jordan walked out of the place by the backdoor, avoiding several reporters. Somebody close to him said his family wasn't happy with something that had been written once in The Inquirer, not being specific. So he let his game do his talking.

His college decision was no surprise. With a lot of top ballplayers, it's not always school vs. school; it's more like: Does a player want to stay in the city or leave?

So a North Philly product chose Queens, N.Y., over Philly. He chose Madison Square Garden over the Liacouras Center, one remnant of the Big East over another.

Jordan will be back, playing Villanova in the new Big East next season. It will cost more than $6, and it will be worth it.


Contact Mike Jensen at mjensen@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @jensenoffcampus.

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