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Aiken school on quest to become a national power

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AIKEN --- Greg Wilson was playing high school basketball at North Myrtle Beach a year ago. James Webb was at Curtis Baptist, and Mike Stephenson was at Glenn Hills. The 6-foot-11 Korab Imami was playing in Kosovo, and veteran boys basketball coach John Jordan was recovering from a heart attack.

Adelphi Christian coach John Jordan (left) has assembled top-level talent and hopes to build a nationally-ranked boys basketball program at the school formerly known as Aiken Christian.   Special
Special
Adelphi Christian coach John Jordan (left) has assembled top-level talent and hopes to build a nationally-ranked boys basketball program at the school formerly known as Aiken Christian.

The fact that they all ended up on the same team, practicing as a private school basketball squad in a small, relatively unknown church gym in Aiken is almost far-fetched.

But Jordan, now the head coach, athletic director and interim administrator at the newly named Adelphi Christian Academy, is as serious as he can be. He wants to build a nationally ranked high school boys basketball program and is using the school formerly known as Aiken Christian as a base.

"The formula is pretty simple." he said. "No. 1 we play a very tough schedule. We'll play some of the best teams in the country, and the reason behind that is we want to make sure our kids play against the best competition so they get a chance to get recruited."

Step two is to accept basketball players from overseas through a ministry created by Jordan to help athletes from impoverished or war-torn countries. Another step includes leaving the South Carolina Independent School Association, where Aiken Christian had competed for years.

"To do the type of program we're going to do, we had to do that," Jordan said. "Nothing against SCISA, but the level of competition there is not very strong, and we're not trying to load up a team to win the SCISA championship. That's not something we were trying to do at all."

Instead, Jordan has assembled a list of top-level high school recruits in an effort to increase enrollment, make a name for the school and eventually become a national basketball power.

"We're thinking national titles," he said.

Jordan said health problems, which led to open heart surgery in March, forced him to take a step back and part ways with the post-graduate school he was running last year in Asheville, N.C. He came to Aiken seeking a less stressful life without removing himself from the game.

Jordan's first crop of players also includes 6-9 Montenegro native Pavle Raikovic, 6-8 Serb Ognjen Rebic and Aiken High transfers Andrew Williams and Deandre Jackson

He got a look at his vision last week when his team took the court against Oak Hill Academy.

Two days after Oak Hill was ranked No. 3 in the nation by USA Today , Adelphi Christian traveled to Mouth of Wilson, Va., to face the Warriors on their home court. Oak Hill won 95-45, but the fact that a small private school from Aiken stepped onto the same court as one of the nation's top programs was already enough to bring legitimacy to Jordan's quest.

Even before the game, some basketball insiders around the area heard about Jordan's arrival and his résumé, which includes 31 high school players who went on to play in college.

Jordan's reputation and name recognition reached the area basketball community and earned him an early start on building his new program.

"The type of players you see around here now you usually don't see until the second year," he said. "What happened here was the AAU coaches got wind of it, I guess because of my reputation back in North Carolina. ... They had kids lined up that they thought could benefit from this type of thing. That's what we did. We've got quite a few in. We've got a lot of inquiries for next year."

Both Webb and Stephenson said they got to know Jordan through their AAU coaches and the two Augusta prospects left their schools to attend Adelphi Christian.

Stephenson, the brother of former Glenn Hills star Jerel Stephenson, said leaving a more traditional high school program to play for Jordan was a decision made in the best interest of his basketball future.

"I just wanted to go to school for free. I didn't really think I was going to be able to get that at Glenn Hills," Mike Stephenson said. "My AAU coach told me about Coach Jordan. He met me at my house, and we talked about it. He said we were going to play a national schedule. He's put a lot of kids in school. I'm just trying to be like that."

Such moves have become a cause for concern among some area public and private school basketball coaches, who fear they could lose their top prospects to Jordan's program.

"A lot of the existing private and public schools don't understand the concept like they do in North Carolina, so they look at it as more of a threat than it is. I hate that they feel that way," Jordan said. "... We have such a special niche as far as the type of kids that can come to school here. It excludes 80 to 90 percent of the kids in the other schools, so I think their fear is a little unfounded."

Adelphi Christian (5-5) doesn't have a single Augusta or Aiken high school team on its schedule this year. The boys and girls varsity teams will play in a Thanksgiving tournament in Durham, N.C. starting Friday, and they'll play at Ridge View High School in Columbia on Dec. 3.

The home schedule, which will be played at the River of Life Church gym off York Street in Aiken, includes games against Southern Technical College on Dec. 7 and the Australian Junior National Team on Jan. 17.

Five boys players to watch

IVORY DRUMMER, Westside

Senior F, 6-2

ROD HALL, Laney

Senior G/F, 6-2

CHRISTIAN NOBLES, Richmond Acad.

Senior G, 5-8

JESSIE PERNELL, North Augusta

Senior G, 6-1

DON QUARLES, Richmond Acad.

Senior G/F, 6-3

Comments (4) Add comment
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hoopshype
11
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hoopshype 11/25/10 - 12:48 am
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Michael Stephenson attended

Michael Stephenson attended Victory Christian Academy last year so it needs to be reported that he didnt think that they would provide him the opportunity not Glenn HIlls. Check the facts about kids going to schoool for free from GHHS.

SouthernPride
0
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SouthernPride 11/25/10 - 07:42 am
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At least the coach admits to

At least the coach admits to recruiting. Now shut down the program.

Riverman1
79535
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Riverman1 11/25/10 - 10:30 am
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A school like that can

A school like that can recruit if they want. But the whole concept bewilders me. What are the other teams on his schedule? He gets beat by Oak Hill by 50 points and is happy? I remember watching Westside play Oak Hill down to the wire in the Christmas tournament here once. I'll bet lots of teams in the CSRA could beat his "international" team.

showboat
306
Points
showboat 11/25/10 - 01:02 pm
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Michael you put GHHS under
Unpublished

Michael you put GHHS under the bus!!!!!!

littlecoach
6
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littlecoach 11/25/10 - 02:23 pm
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Good job fellows . . .you are

Good job fellows . . .you are putting yourself in the best position you can . . . take advantage . . .

showboat
306
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showboat 11/25/10 - 03:18 pm
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Michael ,you really kick GHHS
Unpublished

Michael ,you really kick GHHS under the bus after so many coaches help you out at a young age. Your brother attented GHHS and played on a state championship team and went to school free. The team you are playing for now couldn't beat a team in Augusta that is why no game are on the schedule. Good luck and hope that you get 100 or more free ride to attend school, remember that scholarships are only from one year to the next, no more four year rides.

wsm
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wsm 12/05/10 - 04:37 pm
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First, every serious prep

First, every serious prep school does this with basketball, so this is nothing that new, except Jordan is very good at building these type of teams. He is not recruiting from this area. Second, Adelphi beat Ridge View HS, 74-71, and Ridge View beat South Aiken, 101-27, so Adelphi would definitely mop up most area high school teams. Ridge View was 2nd in SC i 4A. Oak Hill is #1 in the country, so you can't judge anything by that game. This is all together a much higher level of play. Kids would never get the opportunity to play at this level at most public schools. I think this is a great opportunity for area kids who want to play at a different level and get national exposure.

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