It was early March when Jake Silpe, in the midst of his second semester as a senior in high school, received some very unexpected news.
Jerome Allen, Penn basketball’s head coach, had just been fired with several games still left to play on the Quakers’ schedule.
Allen had recruited Silpe to Penn, and once he signed his letter of intent, Silpe was fully under the assumption Allen would be his coach for his college basketball career. Clearly, this meant that would not be the case.
For the now-freshman point guard, however, coming to Penn was about much more than who would be calling plays for him from the sidelines.
“When I chose to come to Penn, it was basically for the school. I loved the coaching staff before but primarily it was being at Wharton, playing on the Penn basketball team, and the coaching decision didn’t really change my mind,” he said. “It was a different type of feel. I knew the type of offense Coach Allen ran and I had heard great things about Coach Donahue, so I was very confident that it would still work for me and it absolutely did.”
Despite the initial surprise, Silpe wasn’t concerned that a different coach would change much for him as he entered his first year on campus—especially after getting a chance to talk to Donahue, who reached out to the promising recruit.
“I think it was about two days after the school announced he would be the head coach and just wanted to see if I was still on board. He told me a little about himself and I did the same,” Silpe said. “I was still definitely unsure of what was coming. The whole adaptation from high school to college is very different and nobody can really prepare for it. You just got to go in and let it happen and everything will digest from there.”
After only a couple months at school, however, Silpe got another surprise. With the departure of star guard Tony Hicks to Louisville and the sudden academic ineligibility of sophomore Antonio Woods, the Quakers found themselves without the services of their two best perimeter players.
For Silpe, it meant he would be the starting point guard for the Quakers in his first season wearing the Red and Blue.
“It was very surprising. I was just kind of thrown into this role and I’m trying to make the most of it, trying to help my teammates get better and help get the team on track.”
Very few freshmen get the opportunity to have such an important role across NCAA basketball programs, so Silpe had a lot to learn in a small amount of time about adjusting to the style of play in college.
“The physicality and the mental toughness is so different [from high school],” he said. “Playing a lot of minutes as a guard is pretty tiring and mentally fatiguing. That, and I should take more of a role as a leader on this team in the future, even as a freshman.”
Silpe has performed well so far for the Quakers, despite their losing skid over the last two weeks. A savvy playmaker and passer, he hopes to add more to his game to make him more of an offensive threat.
“I want to look to be in attack mode for the entire game. We are a great three-point shooting team with Sam Jones, Jackson Donahue, Matt Howard and all the others, so as a point guard I’m always looking for them but sometimes I have an opening that I overlook.”
With extra scoring ability from the point, the Red and Blue could put together a powerful offense with their already-impressive three point shooting abilities.
And Silpe, despite the surprises he’s faced already in his short time at Penn, will surely continue to be an important factor for the Quakers going forward.Comments powered by Disqus
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