The ESPN2 announcers couldn’t stop raving about Arizona Wildcats recruit Rondae Jefferson, who led his Chester (Pa.) High School team to victory in a highly anticipated game on Sunday.
“What everybody loves about RJ, he’s comfortable in his own skin,” game analyst Paul Biancardi, ESPN’s national director of recruiting, said during the telecast.
“He knows who he is: A great defender, finisher, rebounder. First thing he says before the game … ‘I have to work on my shooting. I have to get better at it from the outside. But I can dominate the game 15 feet and in.’
“He understands his weakness and he’s willing to work on it.”
Jefferson, a 6-7 forward, had 20 points, 10 rebounds, four steals, three assists and one block as Chester beat Neumann-Goretti 58-41 in Aston, Pa. It was the first-ever meeting between the area powerhouses. Chester is the two-time defending Class AAAA state champ; Neumann-Goretti has won three consecutive Class AAA titles.
Arizona coach Sean Miller has been a little busy with his own team, saying Tuesday he didn’t get a chance to watch the game.
“A lot of people told me he played really well,” Miller said.
“I’m not surprised. He’s a terrific talent. One of the things that probably stands out when you watch him is he’s really talented on defense. He’s a guy who is 6-foot-7 and can do a lot of different things on defense. He will fit in as well on that side of the ball as he will on offense for us.”
Jefferson will be busy after the season.
The five-star recruit was selected to his third all-star game on Tuesday — the Jordan Brand Classic that will be held April 13 in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Before that, he will play in the McDonald’s All-America Game on April 3 at the United Center in Chicago. And he also will be a part of the U.S. team that will take on an international squad at the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland on April 20.
“I think that says a lot about the talented player he is,” Miller said of the all-star selections.
Talented, yes, but you don’t always the word “defense” when elite prospects are discussed. Miller said that’s a product of Jefferson’s hard work and the area he comes from.
“Chester High School to me is one of the most feared high school basketball teams, certainly in that area of the country,” Miller said.
“Feared meaning they are tough to play against. They play man-to-man, they press, they win. Their high school is a really hard-nosed environment. … A lot of those intangibles that Rondae has comes from growing up in Chester and player for Chester High.”
Jefferson is rated the 17th-best prospect in the country in ESPN’s ranking. Arizona’s other signee, shooting guard Elliott Pitts from Concord (Calif.) De La Salle High, is 91st.
“Let’s not forget Elliott Pitts,” Biancardi said. “Sean Miller wants toughness; he gets it with Elliott Pitts and Rondae Jefferson.”
You can watch a replay of the game between Chester and Neumann-Goretti on ESPN.com