Head Coach Tom Pecora has spent the past three-plus years transforming Fordham into one of the city's up-and-coming basketball programs, and with the signing of Christ the King's Jon Severe this past April the Rams once again became major players in city recruiting.
With Fordham's transformation nearing its end, Severe now begins his transition from high school basketball royalty to the lowest position on the totem pole in the college game.
"The biggest difference is that everyone is talented," Severe said. "Everybody is jumping higher, shooting better. I need to make sure I keep working harder every day."
Severe's decision to pick Fordham over much bigger and more developed programs makes him the biggest recruit the Bronx, NY school has landed in recent memory, but the match fits on both ends.
"It was a better situation for me, a better fit," Severe said. "It was a decision between a school that needed me and a school that really wanted me [in Fordham]. It's great to stay close to home and with my family."
Pecora has made his living recruiting in the city. From bringing Chaz Williams to Hosftra from Bishop Ford to Brandon Frazier [Bishop Loughlin], Bryan Smith [Midwood] and Devon McMillan [Lincoln] all coming to Fordham, Coach Pecora has a long history of recruiting in Brooklyn.
Severe only adds to the credibility of Fordham and its ability to land big city recruits.
"We can get involved with anyone now," Pecora said. "Jon is going to enhance our recruiting profile, and you would be crazy to think we can't land [a player]."
While Severe has the accolades and reputation that would impress any coach and he has helped rebuild Fordham's ability to recruit, there's still a lot of work to be done for the reigning Mr. Basketball for New York, who averaged 21.6 points per game last season.
"He's obviously talented," Pecora said. "He is explosive offensively, but it takes a lot to guard at this level and keep up that intensity. For all freshmen, the level of physicality and not taking plays off [is an adjustment]. There cannot be a long learning curve."
Smith and Frazier are now helping Severe adjust to playing D-1 hoops, something they didn't have the benefit of when they came to Rose Hill. Both Smith and Frazier, in their junior and senior years, respectively, have been two key cogs in Pecora's three-guard system since their arrival at Fordham.
"Those three guys share a bond, all being from Brooklyn and having played their high school ball there," Pecora said. "For young guys developing like Jon, having all-conference caliber veterans is important."
And Severe is getting ridden in practice and in the weight room by those vets.
"The other guys are making sure I keep working out and playing hard," Severe said. "I need to get better with my consistency shooting and defensively.
"It's different from my last year [in high school] but I consider that just another challenge," Severe said.