A Ford in Gaels’ future

Jordan Ford was not selected as the Sacramento Bee‘s Player of the Year for the Sacramento area earlier this month. This is news because Ford won the honor after his sophomore and junior years, and compiled a senior season equal to or surpassing any of those preceding it.

As in, 19.7 PPG and 3.9 APG compared to 19.7 PPG and 3.2 APG in his junior year, or 22.5 PPG and 3.5 APG in his sophomore year. He is boringly consistent and consistently excellent, but the Bee gave the nod to Sacramento High’s impressive power forward Solomon Young, perhaps because Young’s team defeated Ford’s Folsom High team in the state championship tournament.

It was some consolation for Ford to wind up on a Sacramento area all-star team along with Young this past weekend. Also joined by Young’s teammate from Sac High, guard Christian Terrell, and Ford’s Folsom back court mate, Tre Finch, Ford found himself on the “South Team.”This was fortunate because the South squad was far superior to the “North Team.” In fact, the game pitted metro-area stars (South) against those from Sacramento’s outlying areas (North), and the city boys were bigger, quicker and just plain better.

How Ford ended up on the city squad despite playing for Folsom in the Sacramento boondocks was not disclosed, but the combination of him, Young and Terrell was too much for the opposition. Ford, going to Saint Mary’s, Young, going to Iowa State, Terrell, going to UC Santa Barbara, and Tiegen Jones of Sacramento’s Capital Christian High School, headed for Fresno State, were the college-bound headliners in the contest.

The North Team (country mice) boasted a Howard commit, Kai Tease of Antelope High School, and UNR commit Charlie Tooley of Granite Bay High School, but otherwise were out-manned.

Ford shines

Ford appeared to me to be the most polished player of the 27 all-stars. He started so fast, sinking four straight three-pointers before fans had settled into their seats, that South coach Derek Swafford, a veteran Sacramento-area coach, felt obligated to bench him around the half-way mark of the first period. High school games consist of four, eight-minute quarters, but they played 10-minute quarters in the all-star contest. A companion and I quickly began playing “over-under” for the game, and settled on opposite sides of the 150-point mark.

We weren’t far wrong, as the South totaled something north of 130 points, while the North was considerably behind, although over 100 as well. There were no stats available for the game, and the Bee, which used to pride itself on being a comprehensive local newspaper, ignored the result in Sunday’s paper. So, point totals and other stats were left to guesswork, and I put Ford’s total in the 22-26-point range. That’s playing less than half the minutes available to him.

My first observation is that he is taller in person than photos and videos have indicated, with a long and lanky frame, including arms, that put him close, in my estimation, to Emmett Naar’s 6-1. Most rating services put him at 6-feet, however, and I’ve never heard of a player being listed at less than his actual height. So, let’s stick with 6-feet, but don’t be surprised if that is adjusted upwards.

He is a truly gifted shooter, with an effortless release that is superior to either Naar’s or Joe Rahon’s, and is comparable in form to Stefan Gonzalez, Evan Fitzner and Tanner Krebs. Add another sharpshooter to Randy Bennett’s collection of gunslingers. His shooting range extends from three-point land to mid-range pull-up jumpers, teardrops and driving lay-ups. During his high school career, Ford shot 58, 56, 56 and 49 per cent on two-pointers, and 37, 39, 42 and 41 per cent on three-pointers. He shoots with the calm confidence of a player who is used to seeing the ball go through the net.

At the point

Ford is a scoring point guard, and he mans the point position with the intention and ability to drive with either hand. He didn’t pass much in the all-star game,  but he hardly knew his teammates so that means nothing. He executed a flawless pick-and-roll with Young that would have brought a smile to Bennett’s face had he been in attendance. His overall handle is excellent, he brings the ball up-court with his head up and surveys the entire floor. He is the complete package.

Gael fans will undoubtedly spend many hours this summer wondering how, and if, Bennett will incorporate Ford into the Naar-Rahon back court that gobbled up 99% of the available guard minutes in 2015-16. My guess is he will become part of a three-man guard rotation, spelling either Naar or Rahon for short periods. This will get him acclimated to the Gaels’ offense before Rahon graduates and provide a breather for the two iron men whether they want one or not. If Ford adapts to D-1 play as effortlessly as I think he will, this arrangement will make the Gaels a better scoring team and keep Naar and Rahon fresh for a post-season run.

It’s a pleasant prospect.

Gaels coach Randy Bennett didn’t spend much time on the sidelines with Emmett Naar and Joe Rahon last year, but he may see more of them in 2016-17 if Jordan Ford makes the kind of impression expected of him. Photo courtesy of Tod Fierner.

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