Nova Nation’s new face: Basketball star commits to Division I powerhouse

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Audrey Baxter

Dillard officially commits to Villanova. Over 100 people attended the ceremony.

Jordan Dillard opens her mailbox and sighs, staring at the pile of white envelopes peeking out at her. She thumbs through them: Memphis, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Harvard, Vanderbilt. She stops when she comes across an envelope with blue lettering and smiles – Villanova University.

Jordan committed to the program onAug. 22. Villanova, a Division I university,is located just outside of Philadelphia. It competes in the Big East conference, going head-to-head with schools such as Louisville, Notre Dame and Connecticut.

After attending numerous showcases and college camps, recruiting letters started filling Jordan’s mailbox. “I was getting so many letters that I wanted to throw themaway,” Jordan said. “But my mom wanted me to keep them. I really don’t think I had an appreciation for the letters until after I got recruited.”

Many other big-time colleges contacted Jordan and invited her to their campuses, eager to watch the six-foot-tall guard in action. According to espn.com, Jordan also considered Georgia Tech, Harvard, Memphis and St. John’s – all Division I programs.

Once she spoke with Villanova, however, she was hooked.

“Out of all the options I had, I felt like [Villanova was] the most genuine from the start,” Jordan said. “Other schools — they try to sell you to go to their school, but it wasn’t like that with Villanova.”

Jordan first started playing basketball when she was seven years old, and has had nine years’ experience with competitive teams. Though she agrees the sport is fun, she sees more than just a good time in it. “Basketball is an art to me. If you see someone make a perfect shot, it looks like art. It’s a sport that flows really well,” Jordan said.

She realizes that the transition to the college-level game won’t be easy. Both the physical changes and the

Dillard slashes to the lane against Decatur’s home game against Washington. Dillard finished the game with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 steals.
Dillard slashes to the lane against Decatur’s home game against Washington. Dillard finished the game with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 steals.

separation from her family will be hard to deal with. Junior Murad Dillard, Jordan’s younger brother, agrees that being away from his sister will be a difficult adjustment. “I will miss her. We’ve spent our whole lives together,” Murad said. “It will be hard without her at the beginning, but as time goes on with school and basketball picking it up, it will be easier.”

Jordan also admits that being away from her brother will be a challenge. “[Murad] is probably the person I’m
closest to because we’re only 18 months apart,” Jordan said. Though basketball also plays a big part in Murad’s life, Jordan claims it’s not the sport that connects them, but rather their personalities. “Basketball is not something we bond over. We’re both funny, so we always crack jokes. No one else gets my humor like he does, so it’ll be hard to be away from all of that.”

Murad also plays basketball for Decatur. After transferring from Salem prior to his sophomore year, he made the varsity team. “Everyone in my family has played basketball,” Murad said. “It’s fun. It involves a lot of thinking, a lot of teamwork and a lot of pain and struggle.”

Bill Roberts, head coach of the varsity girls basketball team, holds certain expectations for Jordan this year. “I expect Jordan to be our leader and be a solid foundation for this team,” he said. “She has a great offensive game that I think will be very consistent this year. I fully expect her to lead us to the finals
of the region and state.”

Jordan began her recruiting process in the eighth grade, at the age of 13, when Roberts introduced her to the Georgia Metros’ head coach, Charles Huddleston. After coming to watch her during a few JV games, she was offered a tryout. Every summer since, Jordan has participated with the team, traveling across the United States to compete in numerous tournaments. “She has been seen by about every college coach in the country at this point,” Roberts said.

Being a part of the Georgia Metros team has had an impact on Jordan’s recruiting process. “If it wasn’t for Georgia Metros, I wouldn’t be going to Villanova,” Jordan said. “While playing with them, [I] was able to go to games where hundreds of college scouts would be there, all coming just to see me play.”

While Villanova could have chosen any basketball player, it’s clear to Murad why they chose his sister. “The motto is after all, ‘youScreen shot 2013-02-06 at 4.50.31 PM (2) always get worse before you get better.’ You have to make mistakes,” he said. “Jordan is a really smart basketball player. She thinks through the game well. That’s why Villanova wants her.”

The Villanova coaching staff agrees. “We go out and try to recruit the best talent available for our program that year,” Harry Perretta, head coach at Villanova, said. “[Jordan] is a solid person who is a good
teammate and a good individual.”

The Wildcat coaching staff first saw Jordan play at the United States Junior National (USJN) Tournament in July. They saw everything that they wanted.

“She is very versatile and able to play different positions. That is what we like to see,” Perretta said. “We expect her to work hard and continue to grow.”

Despite the two not playing on the same team since they were five, Murad frequently works with Jordan on her game. “She’s really good at getting to the basket and scoring a lot of points,” Murad said.

As for who’d win a one-on-one game?

“I would let her score 15 points, if we were playing to 20,” Murad said. “Actually, she would destroy me.”

 

Since junior year, Dillard has been bombarded with hundreds of recruiting letters.  A large blue envelope from Kentucky contained a handwritten note from the head coach.
Since junior year, Dillard has been bombarded with hundreds of recruiting letters. A large blue envelope from Kentucky contained a handwritten note from the head coach.