Cincinnati Princeton guard Jordan Sibert has already played some games at Ohio State’s Value City Arena. So when he and the Vikings head north to play Cleveland Benedictine in
the Ohio Scholastic Play-By-Play Classic Saturday, Sibert will not be
in awe of his surroundings. He is excited, though, nonetheless. “It is incredible…”
Cincinnati Princeton guard Jordan Sibert has already played some games at Ohio State’s Value City Arena.
So when he and the Vikings head north to play Cleveland Benedictine in the Ohio Scholastic Play-By-Play Classic Saturday, Sibert will not be in awe of his surroundings. He is excited, though, nonetheless.
“It is incredible,” said Sibert, a member of OSU’s highly regarded 2010 basketball recruiting class. “That will be my school next year. It will be a great feeling to go up there and play there again before the state tournament. I have not been there for (an Ohio State) game. I am still planning on finding a break and going up to check out a game.”
Princeton (8-2), ranked fifth in the state in Division I, will play Cleveland Benedictine (8-3) in the seventh and final game of the all-day event Saturday at VCA (8:45 p.m.; see full schedule below).
Benedictine, ranked eighth in the state in Division II, is led by Pittsburgh signee (and former OSU verbal) Cameron Wright and Central Michigan signee Derek Jackson.
“We just look forward to playing them and going out and giving it our all,” Sibert said.
Just the fact that Sibert is able to be full-go for Princeton this season is a bonus. Last April, he suffered a broken leg playing AAU basketball for the All-Ohio Red team at an event in North Carolina.
“It was very difficult, especially with me being an active and athletic person,” Sibert said in recounting the long rehab process. “I had difficulty even walking. It was a long process just to walk and a long process to run again. But the Lord has blessed me. I’d say right now I am about 90 to 95 percent.
“My explosion is still not there yet. My quickness is improving.”
Sibert, ranked as the nation’s No. 70 prospect by ESPN.com/Scouts Inc., was out of action for nearly seven months.
“I had just gotten back maybe two weeks before our first scrimmage game,” he said. “It was sometime in November. I got cleared and I think I am still getting back into the swing of things. I think I am doing pretty good for myself.”
Sibert has shown few effects from the injury. He is averaging 16.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game. He came right out and scored a season-high 22 points in Princeton’s season-opening win over Sycamore. He has been in double figures in scoring in every game.
As a sophomore, he averaged 11.6 points and 2.9 rebounds. Last year, he averaged 15.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game for a Princeton team that went 25-2 and lost the Division I state title game to Columbus Northland, which is led by Sibert’s fellow OSU signees Jared Sullinger and J.D. Weatherspoon.
That 60-58 loss to Northland — also played at Ohio State — continues to spur Princeton this season.
“Like any loss, that would bother you,” Sibert said. “But our team is very close and we want to try and do some special things this year. We understand the sacrifice now and we understand it’s the little things that help you win big games.
“I believe we can make it back, even win it all. The only thing that can stop us is us. If we come out with a mind-set of great focus and hunger, we will be back.”
To that end, Princeton has gone outside Greater Miami Conference play to face tough challenges. Its two losses have come at the hands of out-of-state teams, including perennial national powerhouse Oak Hill (Va.) Academy (68-47) and Pine Crest, Fla. (64-61).
“This schedule is exactly what we needed,” Sibert said. “With the players we lost from last year, playing these kinds of teams helps build our confidence. On Saturday, we were in that game against Pine Crest till the last second against one of the top-ranked teams. Against Oak Hill, we were in that game in the fourth quarter. By playing with the best, hopefully it makes us better.”
Sibert was asked how he could fit in at Ohio State.
“The coaches there talk to me about being a guy who can come in and catch and shoot it,” Sibert said. “I can bring the ball up if I need to. I’m kind of an in between guy like (William) Buford. I’d be between the two and three spots.”
Sibert said he has enjoyed following OSU All-American candidate Evan Turner’s progress this season.
“I think everything he has he has worked for it,” Sibert said. “He worked on his ballhandling and his shot. He works hard. Coach Matta told me that Evan works hard and deserves what he is getting.”
Sibert talked about the things that attracted him to Ohio State.
“Besides Jared being there, I like the atmosphere there,” he said. “When you go up there and you’re around the campus, you talk to the people there. There is a great heritage there and the fan support is very intense.”
The 2010 OSU recruiting class, ranked second in the current ESPN.com/Scouts Inc. team rankings, figures to make an instant impact next fall.
“That’s what we’re hoping for,” Sibert said. “We all have the same focus and the same goals. That’s our goal. We want to go to the Final Four and win the national championship. We want to come in and play our hearts out.”
According to Sibert, he is academically qualified. He recently received word he scored a 19 on the ACT.
“It is a big relief,” he said. “Now I can sit back and go to class and also focus a lot on basketball. I don’t have to leave practice early now for extra study sessions.”
Before coming to OSU Saturday, Princeton will visit West Chester Lakota West Friday for a key GMC match-up. Lakota West is led by top football recruit Jordan Hicks.
But Sibert is looking forward to Saturday’s event as well. He intends to arrive early to see the featured game as Northland takes on Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Luers at 7:15 p.m.
“It’s starting to feel like home,” said Sibert. “I will be ready to go out and perform in front of my future fans. I think it is incredible that four of us will be playing here all in one day. My team is actually coming up early to see Jared, J.D. and DeShaun play.”
Scholastic Play-By-Play Classic
The eighth Annual Ohio Scholastic Play-by-Play Classic will tip-off Sat., Jan. 23 at Value City Arena, featuring some of the best high school boys basketball players and teams in Ohio and around the nation.
The seven-game schedule features:
Canal Winchester Harvest Prep vs. Dayton Jefferson (with Michigan State signee Adreian Payne), 10:30 a.m.
Circleville Logan Elm vs. Westerville South, 12:15 p.m.
Chillicothe vs. Canton Timken, 2 p.m.
Wilmington vs. Columbus DeSales, 3:45 p.m.
Jackson vs. Huber Heights Wayne, 5:30 p.m.
Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Luers (with OSU signee DeShaun Thomas) vs. Columbus Northland (with OSU signees J.D. Weatherspoon and Jared Sullinger), 7:15 p.m.
Cleveland Benedictine vs. Cincinnati Princeton (with OSU signee Jordan Sibert), 8:45 p.m.
Tickets ($60 -1st Row Courtside Reserved, $18 – lower level seats along both baselines reserved, $14 – lower level corner seats and club level General Admission) are on sale at the Box office and all Ticketmaster outlets. Charge at 1-800-745-3000 or ticketmaster.com! Parking is free.