Jon Severe is a winner.
As a senior in high school, he led Christ the King to the Catholic High School Athletic Association Brooklyn/Queens regular season and postseason titles, the CHSAA Class AA intersectional championship and the New York State Federation Class AA championship.
After averaging 21.6 points per game, Severe was named the 2013 New York State Mr. Basketball, was the New York Post's and New York Daily News' Player of the Year and was a 2013 Parade All-American.
Fordham came after him hard. When Severe signed with the Rams, Joe Arbitello, his high school coach, said he was “the biggest recruit Fordham has had in the last 20 years,” before adding, “he can turn the whole program around.”
That hasn’t happened yet.
Severe’s freshman season was a far cry from his high school days. Instead of playing for championships, Severe found himself on a team fighting to stay in games.
“It was difficult, but it was a learning experience,” Severe said earlier this week. “I never dealt with a year like that. I’m happy it happened now so I can try to change [things]."
Change does appear to be in the air at Rose Hill and, to no one’s surprise, Severe is front and center.
After winning just 10 games in 2013-14, Fordham looks poised to make a run next season.
Not only will Severe have a year under his belt, but there will be more talent around him. Eric Paschall, Nemanja Zarkovic and Christian Sengfelder are recent recruits who will be on the floor next season. Antwoine Anderson and Manny Suarez, who were ineligible last year, will be in the mix. Additionally, Fordham isn’t finished. The Rams still have scholarships available.
“I’m excited,” Severe said. “We have talent here. Last year we didn’t have much talent. You have to have talent to win."
“We’re putting the pieces together to try to [turn] this program around.”
It’s early, but Severe already can see some of those pieces coming together at Fordham's summer workouts.
“The mindset is different,” he said. “Everybody’s playing harder and competing.”
By his own admission, Severe struggled at times last season. The numbers were good. He averaged 17.3 points per game, was named to the Atlantic 10’s All-Rookie Team and was the 2014 Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association Rookie of the Year.
It wasn't all smooth sailing, however. Severe had some difficulties with his shot (.331 field-goal percentage) and with shot selection. He had good nights, but as you might expect with a freshman, there were also nights when he didn’t have it.
“I think I had an up-and-down season,” Severe said. “It could have been better."
“Some games I had good games and I came back having two bad games. I want to [be] more consistent.”
Still, not much has changed since his days playing for Christ the King. The talent is still there. Severe should only get better with more experience and better players around him.
While it won’t all be on him, Fordham needs Severe to be one of its pillars for the next few years.
“It takes more than one person to win a game,” he said. “I just try to show by example and try to [bring] everyone along so we can [turn] this thing around.”
Quotations in this article were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
Charles Costello covers the Fordham Rams for Bleacher Report.