Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Jordan Abdur-Ra'oof to Play Under Newman Arena's Roof

Above, Jordan Abdur-Ra'oof (Gonzaga HS) Washington, D.C., 6-7, F, committed to Cornell.

The Cornell Basketball Blog had an opportunity to speak with Abdur-Ra'oof's coach at Gonzaga High School, Steve Turner, who filled  us in Abdur-Ra'oof's college recruitment and style of play.

The son of a former Kansas City Chief, Zin Abdur-Ra'oof, the younger Abdur-Ra'oof boasted offers from George Washington, Old Dominion, Siena, Holy Cross, Kennesaw State, UMBC, Brown and Princeton.  Assistant Coach, Mike Blaine led the recruitment effort for Cornell.

At the time of his commitment, Turner noted that several schools were making efforts to get Adbur-Ra'oof on campus for visits and were close to extending offers.  These included George Mason, Hofstra, Loyola (MD), Fairfield and Missouri State. Other schools which showed interest, even as late as this past summer included, Northwestern, Boston College, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Penn State, Stanford, Iowa, Miami (FL), Vanderbilt, Bucknell, Davidson, American, Delaware and Columbia.

Several head college coaches that included GW’s Mike Lonergan, Penn State’s Pat Chambers and Bucknell’s Dave Paulsen have made trips to Gonzaga to recruit Abdur-Ra'oof.

Ra'off was named 2013-2014 Preseason 2nd Team All D.C. by DMV Elite.  As a senior, he was selected All WCAC Honorable Mention.  He also was invited to participate on March 21, 2014 in Maryland's North-South All Star Game, the Crab Ball Classic and was also invited during his senior year to the Capital Classic All Star Weekend.

When describing Abdur-Ra'oof's game, Turner, who expects to have six Division I commits on his team this year, explained to The Cornell Basketball Blog, "He's a high major athlete, he plays above the rim and has an incredibly high basketball 'IQ.'"  When asked about Abdur-Ra'oof's position, Turner noted, "For us, he is a forward... the 3 and 4 are interchangeable in our system and do the same things, he can stretch the defense or play inside and he is capable of guarding multiple positions.  At the college level, I think he is a 'face-up 4-man.'"  Turner also noted,  "He's expanding his game, working on his ball handling and outside shooting [to play more wing]."

Following the commitment to Cornell, Eric Bossi of tweeted, "Abdur'Ra'oof is a high end athlete with explosion and can probably play as a combo because of athleticism. Good pickup for Cornell."  Meanwhile, Edgar Walker of DMV Elite similarly commented, "explosive athlete."  Steve Keller of the Hoop Group added that Ra'oof could become an All Ivy League selectionDavid Dickerson of also tweeted, "Long, athletic, shot changer. Improved tremendously, hard worker."

As a junior, Ra'off averaged 9.2 points per game and was a Second Team All-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.  He boasts a 3.9 GPA in the classroom.

Clark Francis of Hoop Scoop ranked Abdur-Ra'off as the No. 188 prospect in the nation for the class of 2014 (as of February 2013).  Although he did not crack the top 150, he was an "honorable mention" selection by Van Coleman of

See also Abdur-Ra'off's team site and recruiting profiles on Recruit Recon, DMV Elite, YahooSports,, and ESPN.  Abdu-Ra'off is a "two-star" recruit on Rivals and on ESPN (with a 63 rating).  ESPN ranks him as the 15th best player in Maryland and 82nd in the region and 99th in the nation for his position.  DMV Elite ranks him 18th in the D.C. Metro area.

Northwestern's notes, "Abdur-Ra'oof can play in the post or on the perimeter, but he is usually in his comfort zone around the elbows, 15 to 20 feet from the basket."

Back in 2012, evaluated him as follows: "Abdur-Ra’oof is an interesting prospect. At 6’7 he is very long and can easily block shots with his length. Abdur-Ra’oof will need to work on his offensive game. Right now he is more of a defensive force kind of like how 2013 Oregon commit Jordan Bell is."

The Washington Post referred to him as, "a versatile playmaker and highlight-reel dunker."

At the Hoop Hall Classic in April 2013, he was evaluated by Posterize Blog as, "Abdur-Ra’oof had the tough assignment of making sure Chester High School’s Rondae Jefferson, the No. 17 recruit and Arizona commit was not able to use his athleticism to keep Chester possessions alive through offensive rebounding. Abdur-Ra’oof was a force on the glass all game limiting his opponent’s opportunities for second chance points. On the offensive end, Abdur-Ra’oof was using his athleticism to contribute as well. He racked up 16 points on 6-14 shooting, 13 rebounds (more than double the second-highest individual rebounding total on his team) one assist, one block and one steal."

Terrapin Times, a University of Maryland/ site  scouted Ra'oof a number of times with  Gonzaga and his AAU team, Team Takeover and noted that he is "a spectacular high flyer whose personal highlight film is punctuated by dunks, blocked shots, dramatic over-the-rim-rebounds, and exciting tip-ins - at present he is a force on the inside as a prep player... but needs work on his outside shot and floor skills. Maryland has also been out to see him."

The Washington Post reported on the commitment to Cornell as follows:

Jordan Abdur-Ra’oof of Gonzaga commits to Cornell basketball
Fresh off a meeting with Cornell’s basketball coaches during his official visit to the campus during the Labor Day weekend, Jordan Abdur-Ra’oof strolled over to the locker room to lounge with the members of the Big Red Bears.
As the music blared and players shared laughs with one another, a feeling of ease fell over the Gonzaga senior forward. Minus the different school colors and fresh faces, Abdur-Ra’oof felt as if he was back in the Gonzaga locker room, passing the time with teammates he’s come to view as “brothers.” Immediately, Abdur-Ra’oof knew that he was ready to adopt Cornell as his college family, leading him to commit to the Ivy League school’s basketball program Tuesday night.
“I was looking for a family where I could feel comfortable like I do at Gonzaga,” Abdur-Ra’oof said, “and that moment in the locker room with the [Cornell] players let me know that this was my next home.”
Abdur-Ra’oof chose the Big Red over Brown, Princeton, George Washington, Old Dominion, UMBC and Kennesaw State. The versatile forward averaged 9.2 points for Gonzaga last season, earning All-Met honorable mention and playing a key role in the Eagles sweeping through their Washington Catholic Athletic Conference regular-season schedule.
The positive vibes from Cornell stemmed from Abdur-Ra’oof’s unofficial visit to the Ithaca, N.Y. campus in May. The school’s size and diverse atmosphere somewhat reminded Abdur-Ra’oof of the University of Maryland — where his dad, Aziz, played football — making him even more comfortable with the school and its many resources.
“It’s a great balance of education as an Ivy League school and size as a bigger school with a lot of diversity,” Abdur-Ra’oof said. “It almost felt like home the first time I visited, but after being there with the team and with students on campus, that reaffirmed all of my feelings.”
At 6-foot-7, 205 pounds, Abdur-Ra’oof has the athleticism to run the floor and length to crash the boards as well as guard multiple positions in the paint. His powerful dunks often energize the Eagles and an improvement in his face-up ability as a post player led his recruitment to spike within the past year.
Abdur-Ra’oof also credits his evolving defensive skills to the daily task of guarding 2013 All-Met Player of the Year Kris Jenkins in practice.
“Kris was the toughest matchup in the WCAC and maybe the area, so that forced me to work on my speed, strength and agility,” Abdur-Ra’oof said of Jenkins, who is now a freshman at Villanova. “The Cornell coaches see me as an athletic wing forward that can guard multiple positions and that’s what I’ve been doing in high school, going up against a guy like Kris in practice.”
As the Eagles’ leading returning scorer, Abdur-Ra’oof will be looked upon to increase his production on both ends of the floor. In preparation for his elevated role, the senior said he put up 500 shots a day during the early portion of the summer and concentrated on improving his ball handling.
“Much of the nucleus from our team last year is gone, so we really need to remold together as a team and family,” Abur-Ra’oof said. “I’ve been working really hard on my game and as a leader to help us be successful.”
Eric Bossi of reported the commitment to Cornell as follows:
Down at Washington (D.C.) Gonzaga College High School, head coach Steve Turner runs one of the nation's top high school programs. Each year Gonzaga churns out division one talent and Monday night Jordan Abdur-Ra'oof became the first member of their 2014 class to commit.  An extremely athletic 6-foot-6 forward with great grades, Abdur-Ra'oof has given a commitment to play his ball at Cornell.  Not surprisingly, Turner said that academics played a big role in his senior's decision."Jordan is a big time student and has certainly valued the education he's gotten at Gonzaga," Turner told "Along with the basketball it was important for him to continue in a strong academic setting like Cornell's."  A high end athlete -- particularly for the Ivy League -- who is capable of playing well above the rim, Abdur-Ra'oof is a sound player who gets after it on both ends.  He'll be able to play at both the small and power forward positions and should have the tools to help out right away at Cornell.  "I think his athleticism right off the bat is going to allow him an opportunity to be a factor early on both sides of the ball," said Turner. "He plays above the rim and is a high major athlete.  "What he does defensively being able to change shots and blocks shots at the rim will help him find his way on the court early.

Steve Turner said of Jordan,“He’s kind of made himself a more versatile face-up four right now, and he’s still trying to work towards maybe being more of a wing player. He’s shooting the ball really well, which is showing everybody he’s stepped to the next level.”

"Jordan is a great kid, really modest, smart," Turner told TerrapinTimes. "He is a great student at Gonzaga and is a terrific all-around kid. I could see him being voted the School Student Government President as a senior. As a basketball player, he has made great strides in his[first]  two years here. He is an exceptional athlete. He has missed some time with injuries, but he is a hard worker.  I'm really looking forward to seeing how good he can be ...He is actually more skilled than people realize, he can, for example, really pass the ball. He is a smart kid in the classroom and he also has a high 'Basketball IQ', so if he stays healthy, keeps working and improving, he could be pretty special.  He is a lot stronger, physically, than he looks. We really want him and need him to take it up a level this year. I don't know exactly what level he'll play in college, but he'll be a D-I player for sure and, with his academics, he can go anywhere he wants from that perspective."

Following his commitment, Abdur-Ra'off's high school newspaper published the following article:
Senior small-forward Jordan “J-Bot” Abdur-Ra’oof committed to Cornell University Tuesday night.  He is the tenth member of Gonzaga’s 2014 class to commit to an NCAA program.  The All-Met honorable mention and 2nd team all WCAC superstar also had offers from Brown University, Princeton University, George Washington University, Sienna, and Holy Cross.
Jordan will play for 3rd year coach Bill Courtney.  “They run a pretty fast-paced offense, and they have a lot of athletes just like myself.  So I think I’ll fit in great.”  Jordan will certainly fit in well with the system as he has played with Nate Britt and Tavon Blackmon as they were some of the fastest guards in the WCAC.
Interview with Jordan
Abdur-Ra’oof is a true student-athlete making sure that school does come first, “It’s a great education, you know, and that’s what I’ve always looked for, that’s why I came to Gonzaga, and I’m just trying to put myself in a good position to be successful in life.”  He will certainly continue to be successful as he has always been at Gonzaga and plans to finish his Gonzaga career strong.
When asked about the upcoming season, one thing was clearly important in his mind, “of course – of course a championship.”  The DC metro area will be watching and waiting to see the 6’6’’ senior lead the Eagles to a great season.
Below, a few highlight videos:


Anonymous said...

this kid could be big time. We needed a wing forward so bad. Great pickup.

Anonymous said...

Credit to the coaching staff for bringing this kid to Ithaca. This is an exciting get.

What we need now is a top shelf point guard to run the offense.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

More important, he is a replacement for Shonn Miller. We can pair Onuorah and Abdur-Ra'off together for the next few years. But at least for next year, we get both with Shonn.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Shonn, how is his health? Is he 100%? Bunce too?

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Bunce was 100% and was playing with Foote... then last week he suffered a minor injury (believe it was an ankle, not the knee problem).

We aren't losing him for any games, but the injuries have to be a concern. We need to keep him on the court.

Haven't asked about Shonn but I believe he's ready to go for the start of official team practices.

Anonymous said...

It is nice to see the coaching staff's connections to DC result in a big pick up like this. For those of us in the area, let's hope this means more games in the DC area.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Courtney recruits D.C. very hard.

We did have Tim Higgins from Fairfax, but Tim decided to pursue an undergrad business degree at MIT.

(He was not admitted into the Dyson School of Business at Cornell, but was admitted to the Agriculture and Life Sciences College.)

Anonymous said...

I dreaded the puns, and rightfully so.

Not Kyle Casey, seriously guys said...

Blog, what's the Ivy and NCAA rules on Sean Miller allegedly caught cheating and then self sitting out a year to preserve eligibility and then returning to the team. If he did this, then Ra'oof and Miller would get two years together!

Is this feasible; Any precedent on this?

Anonymous said...

You think it's a good idea to comment on the Cornell schools that kids are accepted and rejected from?

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

In college sports recruiting news: absolutely. It is common practice. And posting GPAs and SAT scores is also common practice.

Anonymous said...

Nice recruits are nice, playing big names is questionably nice, but Courtney coaching the team to competitiveness sometime would be really, really nice. All this feels so shallow when they go out there and put up a stinker. I can't celebrate this stuff until he puts up a respectable season, not yet another cringeworthy one.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:29: You might have to endure another rebuilding year. It's a young squad. But if we can land a high level point guard this year, I think we'll turn the corner soon.

Anonymous said...

I'm impressed that, not only did Jordan choose the Ivy League over other good mid-major programs, he picked Cornell over Princeton and Brown. Henderson and Martin are both off to promising starts this recruiting season and it's an achievement to take one from them.

Aaron Snyder said...

This kid is going to be a great asset to the Big Red. Cornell is going to have a strong young nucleius with Abdur-Ra'oof joining stud freshmen Robert Hatter (PG), Darryl Smith (SG), and David Onuorah (C) to become a STRONG Ivy League team that can win multiple Ivy League Championships.