KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. Amile Jefferson could be the next Hakim Warrick.
The similarities are striking. Both players are from Philly. Warrick went to high school at Friends Central, which is where Jefferson will be a senior this season. Both are long, athletic power forwards with a solid face-up game. Warrick won a national championship in college, which is one of Jeffersons top goals. Warrick now plays in the NBA, which is where Jefferson wants to be in the next few years. And Warrick and Jefferson played together Sunday night in the Delco Pro-Am League on the Friends Central Alumni team.
This was my first time actually playing with him in a game, so it was really fun, said Jefferson, who admitted hes heard the Warrick comparisons before. To learn with a guy like that with so much talent, just to be around him and play with him, thats great.
Jefferson, a 6-foot-9 senior forward, is ranked 26th overall in the class of 2012 by ESPN.com. Hes considering too many high major programs at this point to even count.
Right now Im pretty much wide open, Jefferson said, but the schools that have been recruiting me hard as of late are Villanova, NC State, Temple, Ohio State, Maryland, Stanford, Miami and Alabama.
Among those schools hes strongly considering are Temple and Villanova. If Fran Dunphy or Jay Wright could convince Jefferson to stay home, it would be quite the prize for either program. Wright has nabbed plenty of highly ranked recruits over the last few years, especially from the Philly area, but Jefferson would be the highest ranked recruit in Dunphys career.
I know that they have a great program, Jefferson said about Temple. Coach Dunphy is a great guy, real genuine, easy to talk to. Hes real honest. I know hes a great coach but just to get to know him as a person, hes wonderful.
Nova is a prestigious school that pretty much speaks for itself, Jefferson said. Its a great school thats done a great job recruiting guys from our area.
Dunphy, Wright and many other high profile coaches will be doing their best over the next few months to convince Jefferson to come to their school. With so many schools involved, it wont be easy. But with the talent and potential Jefferson has, it will be plenty worth it for whichever school lands the prized recruit.
I just want to go to a school where I feel comfortable on and off the court, Jefferson said. No matter where I go, I want to be on a team that has a chance to win or at least compete for a national championship. Thats what I want to do. I want to win. I think if youre a competitor, theres only one thing on your mind and thats to make it as far as you can. Im definitely looking for a school that has a real chance to win and be a contender.
Jefferson has the size to play power forward at the next level. He just needs to add more muscle to be able to bang down low. But with his length and versatility, Jefferson likes playing on the perimeter as well.
I definitely like playing the wing, Jefferson said, putting the ball on the floor, shooting that little mid-range shot, getting in the lane and making things happen.
Over the summer, as he prepares for his senior year of high school, Jefferson is gaining invaluable experience playing in a league with dozens of professional basketball players. On Sunday night, he scored 10 points in Friends Central Alumnis 78-71 win over H.C. Ball.
Its definitely a great learning experience, Jefferson said about playing in the Delco Pro-Am League. Its a chance to see where Im at. I know these guys probably arent going 100 percent, but just to see how much different the game is when you get to that next level, how stronger it is, how fast-paced the game is compared to what Im playing in now, is just a good learning experience to see what I need to do to improve to be really efficient at the next level.
Jefferson has plenty of time to decide on which college he wants to attend. With so many choices, he wants to make sure he picks the school that is the best possible fit. In the meantime, he is using the summer to learn what it takes to possibly become the next Hakim Warrick.
Sometimes it becomes a lot of pressure to pick a school, Jefferson said. But thats why I want to take my time to make sure I make the right decision.
Ryan Feldman covers college basketball and the NBA Draft for his website, TheHoopsReport.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.