Q&A With New 2020 IU Basketball Commit Jordan Geronimo’s High School Coach

The Daily Hoosier spoke with St. Paul’s School head basketball coach Max Gordon on his incoming senior forward Jordan Geronimo.

Geronimo verbally committed to Indiana on Monday after an official visit over the weekend.

Gordon is in his second year leading the program.  St. Paul’s is a high academic boarding school based in Concord, New Hampshire.

Q:  Talk about Jordan’s improvement over the last year and the work that went into it.

GORDON:  He has worked incredibly hard and gotten a lot better.  At the end of his sophomore year I knew he was going to be a Division One player, but at that point I was reaching out to some of my connections at smaller schools such as the Ivy League or Patriot League.  Very high level basketball obviously, but not the high major level.

After his sophomore year the college interest was still on potential because he had a lot of improving to do with his ball handling, with his play making, and with his consistency as a shooter.  And he had to get more and more aggressive and work on his body and get stronger.

He did all of that stuff, and that’s what got him to the point where he is now.  After sophomore year he had already been working hard, but he took it up a notch and really focused on the ball handling and the play making, and he was always on our shooting machine getting the repetitions up to help him get more consistent.

At the end of our season and into AAU, he started playing with that killer instinct.  He started realizing how good he can be.  He started to get offers from Atlantic 10 schools and Boston College, and he started to realize how good he can be, and when that happened, he took it to an even higher level, and that’s when the aggressiveness and the killer instinct came out, because he started really fighting to get that high major interest.

Q:  How much of his emergence is a function of just needing to be discovered?

GORDON:  A lot of it was the hard work he put in, but at the same time, it was also a matter of getting him seen.

All of this happened relatively late and he developed late.  He was a much better player at the end of our season than he was at the start.  He got a scholarship offer from the University of New Hampshire the night before the start of our season.

At the end of our season it was Patriot League interest, and then by the end of our open gyms in May he had offers from Boston College and places in the A-10.  I knew after the end of our season this year that if he kept working he could be a high major player.  I didn’t know if it was going to happen when he was 20 or 21 or this summer, but I thought it could happen.

I started reaching out to coaches at that level.  (AAU Mass Rivals head coach) Vin Pastore started reaching out to coaches at that level.  Once he got seen, all of that work that he had put in paid off at a time when he was the most seen by college coaches and it all just sort of came together.

Image result for jordan geronimo st. Pauls
Photo via St. Paul’s School.

Q:  What are some examples of Jordan’s work ethic that has gotten him to this level?

GORDON:  What has stood out the most to me is that he is one of those kids that just lives in the gym.  It’s not exactly one moment, but I think about our academic class day, we end at about three, and this spring, once our season was over, I’m in the gym a lot, I go there to workout and put our players through workouts, I’ll often just sit around the gym doing work for the classes that I teach at St. Paul’s.  Just the time he spends in the gym.  He comes right after classes are over at three, and he’ll stay there until they kick him out at night.  He just puts in the hours.  Sometimes that is in the early morning too.

During our season he would get shots up after practice ended or he would get in there early morning to get that extra work in before practice.  It’s just sheer amount of time over a long period of time.  It’s just committing to the little details and being in there as much as he possibly can.

Q:  What are some specific ways in which Jordan’s game has progressed?

GORDON:  It was exciting to see the progression.  I think about examples of things that he can do now that he couldn’t do six months ago.  He is so much of a better passer and play maker.  He can get a rebound and bring the ball up the court and take it to the rim or make a play for his teammates.  Stuff that he really wasn’t comfortable with in his sophomore year.

A lot of it for him is just the repetition.  He’s a very smart, high IQ player, and he’s got this natural length and athleticism, and when he puts the time in those skills come.

We were working on some mid-post work this spring, he and I.  I see guys like Kobe Bryant and Kawhi Leonard have such a great mid-post game.  We were just shooting rep after rep of mid-post fade away, shots like Kobe would make on the baseline all day long, and I’m watching Jordan take rep after rep and he’s missing every single shot.

As a coach I am wanting to give him advice on how to make the shot, but it looks perfect.  So I say to him, Jordan you just need reps, these shots are going to start falling.  The footwork is good, the form is good, the speed is good.  When he gets those reps, it all just comes together.

And then we had one of our more packed house open gyms this spring, BC is there, Providence is there, a few other schools, and he catches that mid-post fade away, turns over his right shoulder, and by the time he lands he’s nearly at the three-point line and it swishes.  That’s one of those moments as a coach where I knew this kid is going to be a high major player.

Q:  What do you think Jordan’s highest value will be to Indiana as a first year player?

GORDON:   I think his highest value will be his defense and his shot-making ability on offense.

He is a really strong catch and shoot shooter.  He has shot over 50% from two-point range over the last two years, and he’s been close to 40% from three, and I think with his length and his release, I think he’s going to be able to make that transition to the college game with bigger, faster, stronger guys.  I don’t think he is going to have to worry about getting shots blocked.  We just put down a new college three point line in our gym and he’s going to be working on that line.

On the defensive side of the ball what he can offer is tenacity and athleticism and IQ at multiple positions.  I think the coaches at Indiana can envision him guarding two through four right away and I can see that.  Because of his length and athleticism, he’s able to guard quick, strong and tall guys.  But also because of his smarts, he’s able to be a really, really good help side defender.  He’s averaged three blocks a game for the last two years, and most of those are coming from the help side, and most of those aren’t because of his athleticism, most are because his timing is really good.

Q:  Talk about Jordan’s strength and his potential in a high major training program.

GORDON:  Next summer when he shows up at Indiana in June, I’m really excited to see what he looks like by the time the season starts.  With that Division one strength coach, who can put some weight on him while maintaining or even improving his athleticism, it’s going to be really exciting.  He’s got space on his frame to fill out, and I think he’s going to be a lot bigger and stronger by the time he puts on the IU jersey for the first time.

via Jordan Geronimo on Instagram

Q:  How is Jordan viewed by his teammates, and what kind of leader is he on the team?

GORDON:  He sets a great example for his teammates.  He was a captain last year as a junior.  We had two senior captains and one junior.  Our seniors took the more vocal role, and that will be something that I challenge Jordan to take on this year and I think he will.

He’s naturally a little bit of a quieter kid, but behind that quiet is a tenacity that I’m sure IU fans will get to know.

More than anything he leads by setting a very strong example for his teammates.  He doesn’t want to get outworked, so he puts in the hours, he gives everything he has in practice.  He’s selfless.

Even though he’s this really strong talent on our team, he’s always looking for ways to set up his teammates and not afraid to make the extra pass.  We had a 63% assist rate last year, and having someone like Jordan who is a star be willing to make the extra pass and find the open man sets a culture for a team.

He’s harder on himself than any coach ever could be.  I know they are going to expect a lot of him at IU, and Jordan strives for greatness and he is extremely hard on himself and he always listens to his coaches, and I think those are the kind of ways he’s a leader.

All of that stuff extends out to the classroom too.  He’s beloved by the teachers and the other students.  He’s someone that we are really excited about to have this opportunity, because he is someone that has earned it, and all along he has been a model citizen here at school and he is going to be a great addition to Indiana in a lot of ways.

Q:  What kind of team will St. Paul’s have this year?

GORDON:  This year on our team, we have five seniors, but Jordan is the only college basketball recruit of those seniors right now.  There are other guys that are going to play college football or college baseball.  We have strong juniors and sophomores, so playing a challenging schedule will be a great thing to help Jordan and the young guys develop.

Q:  What kind of schedule will Jordan be facing as a senior?

GORDON:  A regional schedule against all of the tough teams in the area.  In New England there’s the New England Prep School Athletic Conference (NEPSAC), and within that conference St. Paul’s is Class A, which is the biggest school size.  We play schools like Phillips Exeter and Milton Academy.  Some of the ones that you might have heard of from an academic perspective, and some of the ones that have sent kids to the Ivy League, Michigan and Stanford in the last few years.

Usually within our league there are a lot of high academic Division I-III players, with every year or so a high major guy like Jordan in Class A.

Within the conference we play in the Lakes Region league, and those are some of the more basketball powerhouses.  We play Brewster Academy (Matt Cross, Terrence Clarke) which is really well known for their prep program.  We also play New Hampton School (where Noah Vonleh went) and Vermont Academy.

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