The Orange has a unique advantage in recruiting one of the nation’s most-sought after prospects.
Amile Jefferson is is one of the most prized recruits in the nation, and Syracuse may have a secret weapon in landing him. The Fizz spotlighted the 6’7’’ forward over the summer as part of Syracuse’s wish list. Jefferson plays at Friends Central High School (Wynnewood, PA), and is coming off a huge junior year in which he led the Phoenix in scoring. He averaged 19.5 points, and pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds a game. Luckily for SU, it just so happens one of the most dynamic players in Orange history hails from the same high school.
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Jefferson has drawn interest from Big East rivals Villanova, UConn, West Virginia and Rutgers. Temple, Ohio St., Maryland, N.C. State and Stanford are also in on Amile’s services. However, the Orange has a slight advantage over many of these teams – a former SU legend that made AJ’s interest spark. The Fizz spoke to Jefferson’s head coach, Jason Polykoff.
“We had a Friends Central Alumnus that played there in Hakim Warrick. Amile knows Hakim. He has had a chance to talk to him. Coach Hopkins has called Amile he is a great guy. Amile is definitely interested because of the academic reputation and obviously the basketball reputation, with Hakim going there and Hakim loving it, staying four years and graduating. Hakim speaks highly of it of course. With all that put together it’s a school that he has a lot of interest in as it has a lot of qualities that he likes.”
Warrick put Friends Central basketball on the map and is the most well-known basketball graduate. Having Hakim talk to Jefferson is a huge plus and can get him more comfortable with the Orange program.
Polykoff says that while the forward may not land on SportsCenter’s top 10 plays, more importantly he will win you games.
“Not a sexy player. He is not going to give you that highlight dunk, that nice spin move. He is not a flashy player. He is a fundamental player, with an excellent knowledge of the game and he is a winner. He has been at Friends Central for three years and has three state championships and two league ones. The kid just knows how to win. He doesn’t wow you with the stuff he does but he is very efficient and a very smart player.”
Amile is Friends Central’s Mr. Everything. He’s that Magic Johnson-esque player who can run point guard and also play center. AJ is best suited to play the power forward position but takes on any role needed to win games. His multidimensional style reminds people of one of the NBA’s more versatile forwards.
“From what I’ve heard and what kind of make sense his game is comparable to Lamar Odom. Like Odom, he is a little wiry, he can handle the ball, play with his back to the basketball. The only thing he has to work on a little more is his jump shot. Amile’s ability to take someone off the dribble or take him up to the back of the basket he is very similar to Lamar in that respect.”
AJ is a talented athlete with sky-high potential. He would be a perfect fit in the 2-3 on the wing because of his length. Polykoff loves his forward’s basketball abilities, but also his demeanor and personality off the court. What’s his favorite part of coaching Amile?
“How good of a kid he is in general. He is obviously very competitive, so you don’t have to light a fire under him. He does that himself. He picks things up really quickly on the court. But the biggest thing is his just a good kid. Off the court he is always smiling and having a good time. He is always to keep the team loose and is respectful. That is the best part about him. He has all the talent in the world, people talking about him, people calling me about him, people wanting to do interviews with him and he stays humble.”
Syracuse inked its first recruit for the new class this week in Jerami Grant, and now could be closing in on another top prospect. Adding Jefferson would give the Orange a tremendous start on 2012-’13.
Posted: Dave Van Moffaert