PG East: Hall cherished his role as Jeannette go-to guy
Jordan Hall, who starred on the football field and basketball court at Jeannette High School, has taken his considerable skills to Ohio State.
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Over the past three years, there wasn't a single season in which Jeanette's football or boys' basketball teams didn't advance at least to the WPIAL semifinals in its respective playoffs.
During that time, the Jayhawks won two WPIAL and one PIAA Class AA football championships and a WPIAL and PIAA Class AA basketball title each. Jeannette played in the past three WPIAL basketball championship games and two of the past three PIAA football title contests.
And while there was a seemingly never-ending list of top athletes and star players to represent the Jayhawks over that time, one of the primary constants through it all was that if a big play needed to be made, there was a good chance that Jordan Hall was the guy making it.
"The thing about Jordan is he wasn't afraid to take the big shot," said Jim Nesser, who coached the Jeannette boys' basketball team the past three seasons. "I considered him the MVP of that state championship team because he made big shot after big shot, and he had unlimited range on his jump shot."
Remember, that 2008 PIAA title team included all-everything forward Terrelle Pryor, so Nesser calling Hall his MVP that season is saying something.
Hall will join Pryor on the Ohio State football team this fall, and he also joins him in another honorable distinction. Hall has been named the PG East Male High School Athlete of the Year for 2008-09. Pryor won the award the previous three years.
Beginning with Jordan Thomas in 2005, the past five PG East top athlete award winners have been from Jeannette.
"The kid [Hall] is a tremendous athlete," said Ray Reitz, Hall's football coach at Jeannette who now is the head coach at Latrobe. "He had a hell of a year in both sports. He basically carried the basketball team scoring-wise, and in football he did everything for us. He's very versatile."
Beyond his speed, quickness and considerable strength for his size, Reitz pointed out Hall's vision as one of his greatest assets. Hall played running back, receiver, outside and inside linebacker, return man and some in the defensive secondary for Jeannette ... and even took some reps at quarterback.
Hall scored 68 touchdowns the past three seasons, led the team in receiving over that time and was second in rushing to Pryor. As a senior, he scored 24 touchdowns in leading the Jayhawks to the WPIAL semifinals. In both football and basketball, Hall was the unquestioned "go-to guy," a role he relished.
"You get more out of the win if you put more into the win," Hall said. "You always want to be the playmaker."
Hall stands only 5 feet 9, but he was a giant on the basketball court. A three-year starter at guard, Hall led Jeannette in scoring this past season at 22 points per game after ranking third as a sophomore and second as a junior (behind Pryor).
"He had the ability to get to the open spot and he had the ball-handling and because of his strength, he could do it all on the basketball floor," said Nesser, who has left Jeannette to become the coach at Hempfield.
But while his coaches appreciated Hall's raw athleticism, Nesser pointed out an intangible that might be just as much of a reason for his successes in sports.
"I just think what makes him so good is that he wants to win," Nesser said. "That's how he practices; he practices to win. He plays to win."
Over the course of the past three school years when Hall was playing significant roles for the Jeannette football and basketball teams, the two squads combined for an .862 winning percentage (112-18). The football team went a combined 40-4 (.909) with two WPIAL titles and a PIAA title while the basketball team went 72-14 (.837), playing in the WPIAL championship game each season and winning the 2008 WPIAL and PIAA titles.
Having been around winning so much in high school should only help, Hall figures, once he gets onto the field at Ohio State.
"It should, because we didn't like to lose. When we lost, we didn't expect it and we never expect it," Hall said. "That's why I went to a winning program here. Losing is unexpected here, too."
Hall was recruited to play offense and on special teams, at least initially. Count his high school coaches among those who believe he can make an immediate impact with the Buckeyes.
"The thing about Jordan is, don't forget, he's a really smart kid, too," Nesser said. "He's not only a smart athlete, he's also smart in the classroom. If you put those qualities together with his athleticism, you have a kid who's going to have a successful college career."
First Published July 9, 2009 12:00 am