Man, the varsity hoops squad at Varina High School (Richmond, VA) can’t be stopped this season. After a recent 65-60 win this past Saturday (1/19) against Princess Anne High School, the Blue Devils now remain undefeated at 11-0. After finishing 26-2 and capturing the Class 5 state championship last season, they definitely look more than capable of accomplishing the latter once again if they keep this up. I, along with many other audience members in the 804, acknowledged well before the season that the team would hold expectations to potentially repeat as state champs. This stemmed from the fact that they didn’t lose any major contributors from the 2017-18 group. All of Varina’s starters returned; the backcourt comprises of two guys only in their sophomore seasons. Holding it down in the front court, Jordan Herandez ’19 has brought a strong interior presence this season with his activity in the paint. He also remains the only player on the roster committed to a college program.
Earlier this month, on January 3rd, Hernandez announced he would continue his hoops career at Virginia State University (VSU) after graduation. Personally, I liked his decision, as I feel his play should fit in great with the Trojans. As a 6’7” forward, the senior brings a lot to the table as an energy guy who can wear opponents down on both ends. Hernandez plays physically with a relentless motor; which especially stood out when he made my standout list at Christopher Newport University’s annual Fall Team Camp back in late September. He’s a double-double threat who has solid footwork in the post, can finish under control in transition, and forcefully grabs rebounds/completes put-backs as soon as the ball comes off of the rim. The Blue Devils stand out in their defensive approach, mainly ignited by Hernandez, who takes it upon himself to act as a vocal leader on that end. His shot-blocking ability causes some intimidation in the paint, no question. Hernandez’s worth on both sides of the ball turned heads when he finished with a dominant performance of 16 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks, and two steals in Varina’s satisfying victory over L.C. Bird High School last month. Carrying that same two-way demeanor into VSU next season serves as a big reason why I feel it won’t be long before the hard-working forward becomes a fan favorite. After spending his Saturday with the team in Suffolk, VA for that latest contest, I had a chance to catch up with Hernandez and briefly discuss his senior season and college decision:
Obviously, people have taken notice of Varina’s current record/area ranking and acknowledged you guys have been very successful thus far. Still, in your own eyes, how would you say the season has gone; both good and bad?
“Hmm… honestly, I don’t think we’ve got to where we want to be yet. I feel like we’ve made improvements every week but still not quite where we want to be.”
Has (head) Coach Andrew Lacey offered any type of specific advice on how to maintain focus and keep the success going?
“He just always tells us to play hard and acts as a big motivator for us. It’s good because he makes sure we’re in the right position to be successful.”
How’s the approach to practice been?
“Oh, everybody is ALWAYS ready for practice. We come in, excited to compete every day. Practices are always tough; we go at each other to make us all better.”
How’s it like playing for Coach Lacey?
“It’s good, and also tough, if that makes sense. Not everyone can play for him. He stays on you and always knows what’s best for his players. His goal is to try and get us to do all the necessary things to be successful on and off the court.”
Going into this season, did Coach make it clear on what he would need from you as one of the senior veterans?
“Yeah, he stressed how this would be my last go-around of high school ball. Then, he told me how the team would need me to protect the rim and get rebounds, before anything else.”
Congrats on your commitment to Virginia State; what type of factors ultimately played the biggest role in you making that decision to join the Trojans?
“Thank you. Well, first, it felt like home for me when I made my way around campus. Also, I noted that the team’s been successful. It’s pretty much the same situation here over at Varina, we’ve been successful. So, it just felt like a perfect fit.”
By chance, did you like the aspect of also staying/playing close to home?
“Yes, definitely. I’ll still be close near everybody, I can go back and workout at Varina; there’s a lot of things I can do while being around the area.”
Has the VSU coaching staff discussed with you about a potential role next season as a freshman?
“Oh, no we haven’t discussed anything yet. But, they’ve definitely been around this entire time.”
I know it’s still really early, but do you have any idea of what you might want to study on campus?
“I’m thinking about sociology.”
Outside of the entire basketball aspect, did anything else specifically about VSU attract your interest?
“I definitely liked how it’s an HBCU.”
For your last few remaining months of your high school career, what do you have left on your agenda?
“I want to keep our undefeated season going. I hope we can finish as the first team to go back-to-back, in a while. That, and just make sure we accomplish anything else that we have set for ourselves. Trying to be the best team we can be.”
Hobbies outside of ball?
“Umm… I don’t really know. I feel like I’m always playing ball (laughs).”
Where does Jordan Hernandez see himself in ten years?
“That’s a tough question. I guess, making an impact in the world somehow. Just not sure what it’ll be yet.”
The Trojans are getting a good guy and tough-minded player! Good luck to Varina as they work to keep their streak going.