Six-foot nothing, Senior point guard from top Jersey High School team St Anthony's Jiovanny Fontan has committed to play at Fordham University in the Bronx, NY next year in the upstart Atlantic-10 Conference. Currently, he's ranked #138 on ESPN's Top-150 list. Check out this lengthy highlight reel: (skip to about 2 minutes in if you do nothing else)
Unconventional to its history, the Atlantic-10 received some love on the whole as a Conference this season; top team Xavier (#8 in the AP poll) is slated as a #2 seed on Joe Lunardi's holy grail of bracket predictions on ESPN Bracketology. In fact, currently nine kids in the top-150 are committed to A-10 schools.
With two games left in the season, Fordham sits at 11-15 (5-9 in conference) with no chance of even making the A-10 Conference tournament, which takes place next week in Atlantic City, NJ. The Rams are going to finish with their worst record since Head Coach Dereck Whittenburg's first year when the team went 6-22. They started four seniors this year.
The on-court experience of its players that Fordham had accrued going into this year was polarized by a lack of leadership on the floor. A buddy of mine mentioned to me the other day the fact that they guys Fordham normally gets come from top-notch High School programs, but they're often the second or third best guy on that squad. What that translates into is a program full of players who've never had to be the man.
Now I'm not about to argue that Fontan is without question this missing cog. He does play point guard and looks like pre-bigot (I like to think so), early-1990s Tim Hardaway in his Golden State days, so that's a start. He's also on a team that is undefeated, ranked #1 in the country and hasn't won a game by less than 20 points this year.
So, he brings the ball up court and he has options it would appear.
However, that six-plus minute reel showed a kid who can create his own shot, and is not afraid to dribble drive at six feet tall. I realize the veneer of Hardaway has a lot to do with who he is going up against. However, I'll go ahead and assume he's developed some swagger over the course of his High School career and believes that he can do that against anybody.
Throughout the years, Fordham has struggled to attract the kids from the Metro-New York area that they logically should be going after. My Freshman year in 2002 I think we had half a dozen kids from overseas. This year's top Bronxite - Kemba Walker, Rice High School - is bound for the farmlands of Storrs, CT to play for Jim Calhoun's UCONN Huskies next season
Fontan is coming to the Bronx from a team that might go down as one of the greatest in high school history; they're filming a documentary about this year's St. Anthony's team. His high school teammates will be attending such high profile programs Marquette, Rutgers and Pittsburgh. In fact, Fontan is one of over 100 players that St. Anthony's has sent to division-1 ball under Coach Bob Hurley.
Undoubtedly, for the first time next year he will be part of a basketball team that loses a game next season at Fordham. In actuality, the only evidence I could find of a St. Anthony's loss was from a NYT article dated 1992. But he's coming to a wide-open program that four years ago started a rebuilding process with this year's class of seniors and failed. And that first go around didn't work out largely because they lacked a player with Fontan's skill set. He should, even as a Freshman, see some steady burn.