BY DYLAN LUTEY
(PSD Photos by Ryan Nix & Kathy Leister)
Jordan Dill. Know the name. Remember the name.
The Germantown Friends School’s (GFS) freshman guard used his array of moves and uncanny ability to create shots for himself on his way to scoring 1,000 points - a milestone most high school players aim to achieve by the end of their high school career. Dill became the 12th player in program history to accomplish this feat and first since former Duke guard Mike Buckmire did it in 2017.
The Tigers were starting to play their best basketball of the season heading into the Commonwealth Cup. They beat both Shipley School and Abington Friends School - both teams they previously lost to - on their way to winning the Quaker Cup, which gave them a commendable sixth-place finish in arguably the deepest Friends School League program ever.
After a strong 71-64 win against Solebury, the Tigers headed to Germantown Academy hoping to win and advance to the Commonwealth championship. While winning and advancing was the main focus, the team was also aware that their star freshman guard was just 14 points away from scoring 1,000 points.
Dill was asked about what he felt before the game.
“I was dreaming the day before,” he said. “I was so nervous. I'm like, ‘I'm not gonna get it. I'm not gonna get it.’ I was just thinking about it so much, but my dad told me, ‘Just go out and play and then everything will work out.’”
With all that was at stake, it was still just another day in the office for the freshman guard as he and the team headed to Fort Washington on Friday, February 17th for their Commonwealth Cup semifinal game. Dill was his usual calm and collected self before the game, cracking jokes with teammates and dapping up just about every family member, friend, and fan associated with the Germantown Friends Basketball program in attendance.
Germantown Friends School Freshman Jordan Dill. (PSD photo by Ryan Nix)
However, as soon as the scoreboard showed 0:00, signaling the end of warmups, it was, in Dill’s words, “Time to go out, play, and just have fun with it.”
The Tigers got off to a slow start, but eventually started to work their way back into the game. Down 16 with 6:57 left in the fourth quarter, Dill got the ball from senior point guard Jaden Palmer-Waldron out of a baseline out-of-bounds play and attacked the left side of the basket. Making something out of nothing, which he has a knack for, Dill went up while splitting two defenders and finishing through contact for the basket and the foul. He calmly drained the free throw, which gave him his 13th point.
Then, with 5:50 left in the quarter, eighth grader Naz Tyler started a fastbreak. Dill eventually got the ball from senior Amir Staten and finished the layup, which gave him his 14th and 15th point.
Dreams had turned into reality.
The team on the bench was made aware of this, but unfortunately for Dill, since it was a road game, there wasn’t anyone to stop the game to acknowledge what Dill had just accomplished. Dill went on to score 13 in the fourth quarter in a valiant effort at a comeback, but the Tigers ended up falling short, losing 70-62, which overshadowed such an amazing accomplishment.
It ended up being a very emotional night because the team’s two well-respected seniors, Staten and Palmer-Waldron, had just played their last game in a Tigers uniform. Dill took some pictures after the game but quickly returned to the locker room. He knew he would have plenty of time to celebrate his personal milestone and felt it was more important to be with his team, especially the team’s two seniors, with whom he has built strong relationships.
Jordan Dill in game vs. Friends' Central. (PSD photo by Ryan Nix)
“This is not tennis or golf,” said Dill. “It’s a team. If you are just worrying about yourself, just going for yourself, it's never gonna work out for you.”
Since then, Dill has been able to reflect on his historic feat, which has yet to fully sink in. When asked about how he feels a couple of weeks removed from the game, it was hard for Dill to come up with the words.
“It still feels unreal,” he said. “I don't know what to say. Words can’t describe how I feel.”
To give some perspective, GFS 1990 alum Jonathan Haynes, who scored 2,022 points in his career, ended up going to Villanova to play basketball. That gives you an idea of what type of path Dill is on. Additionally, after earning honorable mention All-Friends League last season, becoming the first eighth grader to do so in FSL boys league history, this season he made FSL’s all-league first team.
“I don't care about these achievements,” he said, before pausing and then smiling after seeing a sideways glance. “Well, I do. But I don’t think about it much when I go out there. When I’m on the court, I just go out there to play.”
When asked if 3,000 points were in his reach, Dill said, “Yeah, I’m gonna get 3,000. I’m gonna try at least.”
Don’t rule out any type of scoring milestone with Dill’s capabilities. He has a knack for putting the ball in the basket that you can’t teach. His coaches have become more and more impressed with his ability to score the ball at will. GFS head coach Shawn Werdt describes Jordan as a scoring machine.
“Jordan has proven that he can score the ball versus some of the best talent in the country,” said Werdt.
Jamil Pines, a 2015 GFS alum who also played basketball at Elizabethtown College, is an assistant coach for the program and has been amazed by Dill’s scoring ability.
“Skilled, talented, very crafty, and versatile,” said Pines. “I haven't seen many players his age who can put the ball in the basket the way he can. He has elite shot-making ability and can score at all three levels. He's also a very underrated playmaker for someone who can score whenever they want to.”
Dill appreciates the individual awards, the individual attention, and milestones, but at the end of the day, winning is the most important thing to him and he is hungry to bring as many wins to the program as possible.
“We gonna win a lot next year,” he said. “I don't care what nobody says. If it's just me, if I have all seventh graders on my team, we’re gonna win. I'm going to find a way to make us win. My goal is to win state, to win the whole Friends League, and just keep winning and winning and winning.”
While these are lofty goals, especially for a program not known to be a basketball powerhouse, there’s no doubt Dill will put in the work necessary to achieve them. However, in the end, all he is still trying to do is have fun playing the game he loves. Even with the increased attention, publicity, and expectations Dill has been able to maintain his calm mindset and keep his love for the game a top priority.
“You're supposed to go out and have fun,” he said. “Of course, you're going to feel pressure a little bit, but you just need somebody to talk to, like a coach or your parents. Just to calm you down.
“I can't calm myself down. It's really just no pressure. If I feel like it's pressure or I gotta go out and do this for somebody, that's when I'm going to stop. I’m just going to go out there and have fun with it. I'll go out and play because it makes me happy and it's like therapy to me.”
So, what can we expect to see from Dill next season?
“Stronger for sure, a lot stronger,” said Dill. “I've been in the weight room, and everybody’s been saying that I look stronger and leaner also to continue to work on becoming a better teammate and a better leader.”
Freshman guard Jordan Dill poses holding his 1000 pt ball alongside senior teammates Amir Staten and Jaden Palmer-Waldren. (Photo/ GFS Athletics)
Both Werdt and Pines are looking for Dill to improve as a defender and as well as a playmaker.
“Jordan’s next steps are becoming a lock down defender and continuing to evolve as a scoring point guard,” said Werdt.
“There are times when teams give him a lot of attention, which is almost always the case now, and he just allows it. A player as talented as he is shouldn't let a box-and-one or full denial stop them from being who they are. Defensively, he can be more disciplined and consistent with his effort. He tends to reach when he doesn't have to.”
Dill showed flashes of his ability to be a pesky defender, averaging almost two steals a game. On numerous occasions he would pick the pocket of opposing offensive players or disrupt passing lanes which would lead to easy fast break opportunities.
According to Pines, Dill would play “swiss cheese defense”, allowing defenders to go by him or gambling for a steal which would lead to defensive breakdowns. Over the next three years, the program will aim to develop Dill as a more engaged defender.
Headed into his sophomore season, Dill is looking to become an even more complete all-around player while becoming an even better scorer. On the scoring front, he is clearly way above average for someone his age. However, one thing he needs to improve is his efficiency if he wants to be an elite scorer and help the team win more games. He shot just 40% from the field and 32% from three. While some of that can be attributed to facing double teams, box-and-ones, Dill was always the focal point on the opposing team’s scouting report.
Dill is never one to make excuses. He will surely put-up thousands of shots during the offseason in addition to playing in AAU games over the summer in order to increase his efficiency next season.
Dill will undoubtedly reap all of the benefits of his hard work in the near future; however, he continues to stay in the moment and doesn’t want to look too far into the future.
“I got college decisions and stuff like that,” he said, “but I'm not even thinking about that. I'm just taking it day by day.”
The sky is the limit for Jordan Dill as he embarks on setting more records on the hardwood. (PSD photo by Kathy Leister)
While outside spectators who come to Tigers’ games appreciate Dill’s skills and wizardry on the court, people within the program appreciate his personality even more.
“Jordan makes coaching fun,” said Werdt. “His positive energy is contagious and he is a workaholic. He makes everyone around him better.”
While Pines is impressed with Dill’s overall skill set – “He's one of the most talented players I've seen at his age and has a very bright future” –he’s even more impressed with the way he handles himself and gave Dill very high praise when asked about his personality.
“The thing I'm most impressed with about him doesn't really have to do with his skills on the court: it's his attitude,” said Pines. “He's just a really great kid. He lights up a room, always has a smile on his face, his peers gravitate to him, and he's a really great person to be around. Basketball will take him far, but his personality will for sure take him a lot farther.”
A stronger, hungrier, and more experienced Dill is a scary thought for opposing teams. With more experience under his belt and a stronger frame, it’s going to be scary hours for opposing teams.
The ability that Dill has shown to score the ball at such a young age is incredible but frightening at the same time, and also very rare. Additionally, the combination of his infectious positive attitude along with his charismatic personality - that can captivate a whole city - is also hard to come by.
There is no question Jordan Dill has the combination of character and talent to become a superstar and household name in years to come.
Dylan Lutey is a senior at Germantown Friends School