Jon Severe will not be going very far for college, as Christ the King guard becomes Tom Pecora's highest-profile recruit at Fordham since arriving in 2010. (Photo courtesy of the Queens Times-Ledger's Joe Staszewski)
Tom Pecora's first three teams at Hofstra went a combined 33-55 before the coach signed a guard by the name of Antoine Agudio prior to the 2004-05 season. Agudio went on to become the Pride's all-time leading scorer, and Hofstra produced three consecutive 20-win seasons upon his arrival. Since taking the job at Fordham in 2010, Pecora's Rams have gone a combined 24-64, but have endured constant criticism in many different areas from a devoted fan base that has become restless with trying to embrace a winner.
Pecora took the first step toward responding to the said criticism this afternoon, when he landed arguably his best recruit since coming to Rose Hill, one he hopes could be the next Agudio.
Jon Severe, a 6-2 guard out of Christ the King in Middle Village who earned Mr. Basketball honors in the state of New York this past season, officially announced his decision to attend Fordham earlier this afternoon, choosing the Rams over Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, West Virginia, and a last-minute pitch from Rutgers, whose new coach Eddie Jordan entertained Severe in an in-home visit last night that, according to the guard, went well enough to the point where the Scarlet Knights became a contender for his services. Nevertheless, Severe arrives at Fordham off a senior campaign in which he averaged 21.6 points per game and led the Royals to a New York State Federation championship, the latest trophy for the tradition-rich Christ the King program.
"I think I can change the whole program around," Severe said in reference to his new team, one in which he will almost certainly make an immediate impact alongside senior Branden Frazier and sophomore Mandell Thomas in the Rams' backcourt as Fordham attempts to replace the production lost by the graduating Chris Gaston with a recruiting class of forwards Manny Suarez and Jake Fay, guards Chris Whitehead and Antwoine Anderson; and the centerpiece, Severe himself.
"Obviously, he's an exceptional player," Pecora said. "You know all of his accolades, and for him to be able to come in and give us immediate firepower with his ability to score the basketball, I think will make a huge difference for us next year. There's no doubt about his ability to come in and play a lot of minutes for us."
Severe's coach credited Pecora as a steady influence during the recruiting of the star guard, as Christ the king head man Joe Arbitello said the Rams "recruited him the hardest," and that Pecora has "made himself more visible than anyone else."
"I was calling my kids Tommy and Dave for two weeks because it seemed like I saw them (Pecora and associate head coach David Duke) every single day," Arbitello said. "They were here a lot, and when they weren't here, I was hearing from them and Jon was hearing from them. They did everything possible to bring home a recruit who, in my estimation, probably will be the biggest recruit Fordham has had in 20 years."
Severe's signing is also the second consecutive big splash Pecora has made this month, as the Rams received a verbal commitment three weeks ago from Eric Paschall, a coveted forward from Dobbs Ferry from the Class of 2014.
Pecora has had success in developing guards out of Christ the King in the past, as he was the assistant on a Jay Wright-coached Hofstra team that went to an NCAA Tournament behind point guard Craig Claxton, better known as "Speedy," who turned into a first-round draft pick in 2000. The lure of immediate playing time proved to be the major selling point for Severe as he donned a maroon hat during his announcement in the Christ the King gym.
"Last night, I knew I wanted to go to Fordham," he said. "I'm playing a lot my freshman year, I can make a big impact on the team, it's close to home. It was just a better choice for me, they showed me the most love."
Severe's confidence is as high as the hopes of the fans that will now cheer him at Rose Hill in November, as he feels his arrival could set off a chain reaction at a school that has not appeared in the NCAA Tournament since 1992, before the star guard was even born.
"After I commit, more people in the city will want to come to Fordham," he said. "I think it's not where you go, it's what you do where you go. I know we're going to win."