Q&A with basketball recruit Jamal Lewis
Sidwell Friends senior star chose to play for Quakers over Princeton, Harvard and Yale
February 28, 2012, 12:05 am · Updated February 28, 2012, 12:07 am·
Zack Rosen and the Quakers reminded fans that their season is far from over by pulling off an upset in Boston. While the Red and Blue continue to captivate, many new players must fill Penn’s soon-to-be depleted roster. This week, The Daily Pennsylvanian spoke with a member of Penn’s incoming recruiting class, Jamal Lewis.
Lewis committed to Penn at the beginning of July, making him the first Penn basketball commit for 2012. Lewis is a 6-foot, 165-pound point guard out of Washington, D.C. He currently attends Sidwell Friends, a prestigious private school, and the same school which President Obama’s daughters attend.
Lewis already epitomizes the Quakers: Sidwell’s mascot is also a Quaker (not to be confused with the Quaker). This year, Sidwell was a co-champion of the Mid-Atlantic Conference (MAC). Over the past season, the up-and-coming point guard racked up 17.2 points per game, shooting over 50 percent from the floor. Lewis also showed his ability to create opportunities for his teammates, averaging 5.2 assists per game.
ESPN gives Lewis an 83 overall ranking, making him the fifth-best player out of D.C. Major programs such as Stanford and Virginia also expressed interest in Lewis. However, Quakers fans may take more satisfaction from the fact that Lewis turned down offers from Princeton, Harvard and Yale to play home games at the Palestra.
Daily Pennsylvanian: What made you pick Penn?
Jamal Lewis: Obviously Penn is a great academic school … [It’s] one of the top schools in the nation … and graduating from Penn would put me in a good spot to be successful in life. On basketball, Penn was one of the first schools to really look at me and I was really happy and really impressed with how badly they wanted me and how much they supported me throughout my high school career … I could tell that the Penn basketball program is like a family, and that’s kind of what I was looking for in a team … And obviously coach Allen, being the great player that he was, I tried to trust in him, and trusted that he would help me be the best basketball player that I could be. Overall, I thought it was a great decision for me.
DP: Is there something you particularly like about Jerome Allen’s style of coaching?
JL: I’m more impressed with his confidence — the confidence that he has in himself and that he shares with his players. I know he has the utmost respect for all his players [and] puts them in a position to win.
DP: How do you see yourself stepping up next year, especially given that Penn is losing its three most crucial players at the end of this season?
JL: Obviously Zack Rosen is a great player — probably one of the best in Penn history … But I plan on just working hard … and picking on some of the things that Zack learned … I just want to learn from these guys as much as possible and be able to help out as much as I can next year.
DP: What’s been the most inspiring moment in your career thus far?
JL: The most exciting thing about any sport is winning, and while I’ve been at Sidwell, we’ve won the MAC three times … And I just love being able to share that with my teammates. You know, working hard with them and being able to see our hard work pay off. The offseason we worked our butts off… and to see it pay off is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever been a part of.
DP: What do you see as the biggest challenge transitioning from the MAC, which isn’t known for its basketball, to playing in Division I?
JL: I’ve seen a lot of college games up close and on TV, and those guys really work hard every play, and I think that’ll be one of the biggest things that I have to adjust to: not taking some plays off. I know that’s bad, and coaches [tell us not] to do that, but even the little things like staying in your stance the whole possession, going for every rebound, loose balls — that takes incredible conditioning. I think that’ll probably be the biggest adjustment that I have to make.
DP: Right now, what is your goal for your career at Penn?
JL: Just win as many games as possible. Hopefully hang a few banners up there, win a few Ivy League championships. Making it to the tournament. I think that’s one of my main goals. I just want to help the Penn basketball program to get back on top of the Ivy League. It’s been a while, so I jut want to help Penn get back up there to the top.