BLOOMINGTON — The newest basketball commitment to Indiana for the 2020 class entered St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H., as a raw, 5-foot-11 freshman who played for the JV team.
Even then, St. Paul’s School varsity coach Maxwell Gordon saw upside in Jordan Geronimo — an ability to score, toughness, a work ethic.
Fast-forward three years and Geronimo is set to become a Division I player, having committed to the Hoosiers late Monday night after visiting the IU campus over the weekend. A growth spurt to 6-6 helped Geronimo, a Newark, N.J., native, evolve into a Top 100 national prospect. But so did hard work in developing into a player capable of defending multiple positions and scoring in a variety of ways.
“It’s been in some ways a fast progression and in some ways a slow progression,” Gordon said. “It’s just been a lot of hard work, and he’s just gotten better each step of the way.”
A borderline three- to four-star prospect, Geronimo chose Indiana over offers from Texas A&M, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Providence, Georgia and Boston College. He joins 6-4 shooting guard Anthony Leal and 6-5 swingman Trey Galloway in the 2020 class and is the first player in the class from outside the state of Indiana. Rivals.com ranks Geronimo as the 18th best small forward in the Class of 2020, while 247.com ranks Geronimo 98th nationally in its top 100 prospects.
Geronimo possesses the physical gifts that make him both an elite defender (a 7-1 wingspan) and a strong finisher at the rim (a near 40-inch vertical leap). But Gordon said Geronimo also has spent countless hours working on his game, evolving from a catch-and-shoot scorer to someone who can make plays, score off the dribble and shoot with range. Geronimo shot 38 percent from 3-point range at St. Paul’s last season.
“Early on in the season, he was a really good 3-and-D, knocking down open shots and playing great defense,” Gordon said. “By the end of the season, he had turned himself into a playmaker, able to take guys off the bounce.”
Gordon said Geronimo is dedicated to film study as well.
“He studies the game,” Gordon said. “The ball-handling and the playmaking has come along. That has really been his central focus because he knew he needed it the most to play at the level he wanted to play at, and so it’s really been this last season and I think his junior year shows it all. Early on in the season, it was one or two assists a game and by the end of the season it was three or four, and that was just the nature of him working hard and learning how to make those plays.”
For an IU team in search of playmaking ability on offense, Geronimo could provide a spark. Defensively, Gordon thinks Geronimo will be a good fit for IU coach Archie Miller’s pack line defense.
“With Jordan’s length, that could work really well, the pack line,” Gordon said. “Because when he gets those arms up on those passing lanes and when he’s locked in on help-side defense, he can be an elite defender on and off the ball.”
Off the court, Geronimo is a leader. He was voted by his teammates as one of three team captains as a junior last season.
“Where he excels as a leader right now is really his leadership by example,” Gordon said. “Nobody cares more than Jordan. Nobody is going to give 100 percent like Jordan. He really sets that example and that tone for the style that we want to play, and he’s harder on himself than his coaches could ever be, and he listens, and he wants to be great. He wants to take feedback.”
Gordon said Geronimo will continue to work on extending his shooting range this season while becoming a more vocal leader.
“We just got a new college 3-point line in our gym so I know he’s going to be working a lot on our shooting machine with that,” Gordon said. “But for him, it’s going to be the off-the-dribble stuff, and the off-the-dribble stuff that’s going to get him ready for college, those quick one or two or three dribbles that it’s a pull-up jump shot or a fade-away or it’s driving to the hoop.”