Anyone who’s followed my work with Phenom Hoops for the past year has more than likely noticed this particular motto I like to reiterate for high school players listening: Don’t become too content with yourself. This goes for all hoopers, whether they find success early on in their careers or not. Personally, I’ve always deemed the best players as ones who stay hungry to improve their games each day they’re blessed with. It’s no coincidence why Michael Jordan holds a reputation as arguably the best player to ever touch a basketball…he kept getting better throughout his prime years in the NBA. I’m sure most who had the chance to play at the next level past high school will agree with my notion of staying away from complacency and assure those same young players that their ‘best basketball’ is still years ahead. It’s always satisfying to look back at a past version of yourself as a player and think “I was pretty good back then but not nearly at the level I am now.” A local Richmond, VA product, Jaden House ’21, nicely fits into the description of players who have stayed disciplined to better themselves even after being pegged as notable talents early on. He’s made some sacrifices this year in 2019 but the favored results have heavily fallen into his lap.
My Phenom Hoops co-worker, Frank Bennett (aka Coach Frank), first called it last October that House would break out as a standout in the 804 for the 2018-19 season. Ultimately, the 6’4” shooting guard would make the predictions ring absolutely true. A member of the varsity program at Henrico High School (Henrico, VA) last season, I remember first truly learning about the Warriors during my freshmen year of college when they won the 2015 Virginia High School League (VHSL) Class 5 state championship. It resulted as their second title in three years, as 2012-13 also saw the same achievement. Henrico finished last year with a very solid overall clip of 18-5, losing in the Region 5B tournament, and House produced on a nightly basis of playing seamlessly within the team’s neck-breaking offensive tempo. I initially scouted him during a January matchup against Glen Allen High School (Glen Allen, VA), which left me intrigued by how easily he controlled the ball, attacked open gaps, and created separation. He did a slew of things well in that particular showing and for the rest of the winter to end up averaging 16 ppg, 4.3 rpg, and 2.3 apg, along with an All-Region 5B second team selection added to his resume.
A couple of weeks following the 2018-19 school season, I again saw House competing in an AAU scrimmage at the end of March. His travel coaches seemed to be hinting at the guard having some big news to spill quite soon. I didn’t know what to really make of it at the time but can recall being wide-eyed when, a little over two months later, I opened up my phone to see exactly what they had meant. On June 17th, House stated, via Twitter, that he would reclassify into the 2021 class and join the Dragons of Middleburg Academy (Middleburg, VA). Like I mentioned earlier, the move likely came with a big sacrifice and adjustment to leaving Richmond for a vastly different-looking home in the countryside of Middleburg, but House assures he knew from the jump what it could lead to for his own benefits.
“As soon as I came across Middleburg, I knew it could be a really good place for me to grow,” House explained. “The people here help with making sure I do everything I need to do in the classroom first; that’s a priority. The teachers hold you accountable and the school is pretty small. Everybody’s a part of one big family and make sure to talk you through things, especially on days when you might not feel 100%. But yes, I’d say the entire adjustment has gone easier than I could’ve imagined.”
Last year, no one could deny House’s talent but, personally, I still felt he needed to show an increase of perimeter shooting. Every time I watched him handle business on the hardwood, the junior could just maneuver his way past anybody trying to stay in front of him. That attacking style indeed worked well, evident by his season averages, and I deemed him as one of the area’s best slashers based off of how consistently he performed in that area during 2018-19. Still, being able to shoot from the outside at a considerable rate typically plays a big impact in how perimeter players’ recruitment pans out. It’s an essential part of the game at the college level and appears to be something House figured out over the offseason. Now, in every showing I’ve seen him with Middleburg, he shoots in confidently from any level of the floor with a nice follow-through. Everyone who bought a ticket saw this when Middleburg participated in both sessions of the 2019 ‘Virginia Live Period Shootout,’ which began five days after House’s big announcement. He lit defenses up by filling up the scoreboard at all three levels of the floor. It’s a clear representation of hard work and now makes House more complete offensively than we’ve ever seen in his game.
“I’d say I’ve become more used to playing on the ball a lot now. At Henrico, I had Jahme Ested ’20 (2019 All-Metro third teamer) in the backcourt with me and he mainly ran the point guard spot. But now, I’m in scenarios where I move over to be a primary ball-handler. Isaiah Folkes ’21 (Middleburg 6’2” guard) and I can switch at either guard spot and will probably do that at times this season. So, I’ve been trying to learn about how to use the pick-and-roll and make the right reads when I get into the lane, because I know other teams will probably crash onto me if I get near the rim. It’s all about knowing what decision to make when that happens.”
In that same ‘Live Period Shootout,’ timing couldn’t have been more perfect for House to perform some of his best all summer. College coaches from all NCAA divisions sat around court-side and couldn’t keep their eyes off of Middleburg’s exciting play. Old Dominion and Stetson both extended offers to House on June 22nd, his first two, and the rest has been history ever since. He’s pulled in three additional offers up to this point and now holds a ton of interest from other Division I schools.
“Man, now THAT (my recruitment) just took off. It caught me off guard at first…I didn’t feel anyone really knew about me or was watching. Howard, Mount St. Mary’s, and James Madison all offered after Old Dominion and Stetson did. Now, my interest list is pretty long.”
From what I know, LIU-Brooklyn, George Mason, William & Mary, and Delaware have all visited Middleburg’s open gym workouts in the past couple of weeks to see House. That’s only a few official names, as I’m sure many more have him circled on their radar.
Recently, I was pleased that the rest of our Phenom Hoops crew outside of myself and Coach Frank had a chance of their own to see House’s abilities when he partook in the ‘Virginia Phenom 150’ camp two weekends ago (9/28). As expected, he made a strong impression by finishing as one of the day’s scoring leaders (21.5 ppg) and a camp MVP candidate. Recapping the event, my Phenom Hoops guys had much to say about House’s gifted talents:
“Jaden is built like a bull in a china closet. He’s a strong, athletic, and fast guard. He’s excellent at getting to the rim and rarely could anyone stop him. He’s really creative off of the dribble and has advanced ball-handling skills. He’s best when going downhill and could be a lockdown defender. He averaged 21.5 PPG and was one of the top players in attendance.”
– Rick Lewis
“A player that possesses an incredible crossroads between productivity and long-term upside: Jaden House. He’s a smart, strong, athletic guard prospect with great size, length, and the ability to control the action on either end of the floor. House defends with purpose and knows how to suffocate opponents with his quickness and meticulous positioning, which leads to a consistent stream of turnovers and easy transition buckets. He creates with relative ease and has the necessary craftiness to get wherever he desires on the court. House scores the ball well from all three levels but prefers to attack the basket. Next in his development process is working on his consistency from the perimeter, as it would make him basically unstoppable on the offensive end of the floor.”
– Jeff Bendel
“House is a strong athlete who does a great job asserting himself on both ends of the floor. He loves to get out in transition and make big plays above the rim. His upside as a multi-positional defender is really high. He has the strength and athleticism to guard four positions at the high school level, which makes him a versatile piece for any roster. His ability to initiate offense might be his most underrated quality, but the opposition will quickly realize that it’s legit. He holds a handful of low major – mid major Division I offers and that list should increase steadily in the coming months.
– Miles Masercola
Those statements should easily give one an idea by now that House can really, really play. Entering the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) Division II branch this year, I see him turning into an all-state caliber guy if he keeps on doing what he does best. He knew what goals he wanted to achieve immediately after making the pledge to Middleburg and won’t rest until finally being able to sit back and say “mission accomplished.”
“Winning the state tournament is what I want. Simple as that; nothing less, nothing short of that. For me, other than scoring, I want to make sure I keep my team involved. I know that sometimes I can get into that mindset of just getting a bucket every possession but I want to take it a step further in being an overall player and leader. That’s more important than just scoring all of the time.”
Buckle up, House looks like he’s set to erupt this year…