Thursday, March 23, 2000

Versatile Cornette leads St. X


He scores, steals, blocks, dreams of title

BY CAREY HOFFMAN
Enquirer contributor

img
Jordan Cornette
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
| ZOOM |
        When Beavercreek coach Buzz Seilhamer started listing factors that allowed St. Xavier to beat his team in last Saturday's Division I regional final, one of the first he mentioned was three-point defense.

        “It's pretty hard to shoot it in when they've got a 6-7 guard on the perimeter,” Seilhamer said.

        St. X doesn't have a 6-foot-7 guard, but they do have Jordan Cornette, a 6-7 jack-of-all-trades who personifies the team approach that has the Bombers in the state tournament.

        Cornette is probably the most gifted player on the St. X team and surely has the brightest future in major college basketball. Yet he averages only8.7 points a game while logging more minutes than any other St. X player this year.

AT A GLANCE
  • Matchup: St. Xavier (23-2) vs. Hilliard Davidson (22-4)
  • What: Division I state semifinals
  • When: 9 p.m. Friday
  • Where: Schottenstein Center, Columbus
  • Tickets: $7, Available at school through Friday or at gate beginning at 8 p.m.
        Convincing Cornette that a balanced team concept was St. X's best chance this year wasn't hard, Bombers coach Scott Martin said. “He's such a team player. He's much more interested in winning than trying to get accolades for himself.”

        “My role on the team is like a lot of the other players,” Cornette said. “I'm probably just one of many guys who can stop a scorer from the other team.”

        Defense that seems to become more effective as the game wears on is one of the defining characteristics of this St. X team. Cornette plays a large role in that. “He's a de fensive presence,” Martin said. “He's versatile enough he can guard guys a little taller than he is or a little shorter. He's a very good defender.”

        As evidence, consider that Cornette is second in steals for St. X — usually a stat dominated by guards — and the leader by a wide margin in blocks. Cornette averages just over three blocks per game.

        That comes back to long arms. At 6-7, Cornette has an impressive wingspan when he gets in the air and gets his arms up.

        “I like to score. I think everyone does,” Cornette said. “But when scoring isn't there, I still love to play defense. I love to get the big steal or the big block and take what that gives us.”

        Cornette is comfortable on the perimeter because he grew up playing point guard. As a freshman at St. X, he was a 6-foot shooting guard. He still is an excellent perimeter shooter, making 37 percent of his e3oint tries this year. “I know that catches teams off guard,” Cornette said. “They see this gangly guy hanging around the block and then their shocked when I pull up for that three.”

        Cornette looks and plays quite a bit like his older brother, Joel, a first-team Enquirer all-star last year who now plays for Butler.

        Joel grew from 6-7 to 6-9 from his junior to senior year, making him something of a sleeper when he signed early with Butler. With missing out on Joel still fresh in recruiters' minds and Jordan playing at the state tournament this weekend, recruiting will probably be more intense with Jordan. “I'm looking at that stuff, but know there are no guarantees,” Jor dan said. “I do think I'd like to play at a college that's pretty well known, with good academics and that's close to home.”

        All his attention right now is focused on bringing home a state title. For one thing, he'd like to win a title to quiet down all his friends around him from Moeller — the Cornettes live only a few streets away from that rival school.

        “(Moeller star) Matt Sylves ter always held that over me and (St. X point guard) Steve Callahan when we all played together in AAU this summer,” Jordan said. “When we were getting ready to play up in Columbus, he was like, "Have you guys seen the Schottenstein Center yet? It's a great place. Hey, look, that locker room over there is where we partied after we won the title.' ”

Wednesday story: Coach, dad lead St. X to state
Saturday story: Sollman leads regional victory



Sports Stories
Cowboys give Sutton shot at redemption
Lavin's lessons learned
NCAA NOTEBOOK
Men's NCAA Schedule
Men's NIT
Women's NCAA Tournament
Women's NIT
No. 2 NKU topples No. 1
NKU foe beats Slippery Rock
Women's Division II Elite Eight
Miami recruit named Mr. Basketball
Purcell Marian reaches state final
- Versatile Cornette leads St. X
Ohio boys final four pairings
Ohio boys Division IV all-stars
Highlands opens state quest today
Kentucky girls Sweet 16
Hamilton 5, Mighty Ducks 4
Orlando 4, Cyclones 3

Reds have three spots open
REDS NOTEBOOK
Reds Game Report
What is 'football ready'?
Brown still opposes replay