Penn basketball has a new star in the making, and his name is Jordan Dingle.
Dingle, a freshman guard from Valley Stream, N.Y., comes from a strong basketball pedigree. Both his father and his uncle played collegiate basketball, and his father played a critical role in UMass’ 1996 Final Four run. As a result, Dingle did not have to look far to find someone to help him practice the game he loved.
“[My family’s basketball history] was the source of my inspiration for the game,” Dingle said. “[My dad trained] me every day after school from age 11 until I went away to [Blair Academy]. He played a really huge, pivotal role in my development as a player.”
Dana Dingle’s role in his son’s basketball career continued to grow when Jordan began to play for his father’s Amateur Athletic Union program, the New York Lightning. Dingle continued to hone his strengths as a player on the team, while also receiving a sample of the elite competition he would face in college.
“It was a great experience playing in the AAU circuit. I played against a number of guys who are in the NBA already [and] some guys who are projected to go to the NBA,” Dingle said. “It was nice to travel the country at such a young age and get exposure against that level of talent. I feel like it really pushed my game to the next level.”
Playing for the New York Lightning was not Dingle’s sole source of elite competition. After starting his high school career at Lawrence Woodmere Academy, Dingle spent his final two years at Blair Academy, a boarding school in Blairstown, N.J. that has produced NBA players like Luol Deng and Charlie Villanueva.
For Dingle, Blair was the perfect way to prepare for the challenge of adjusting to all aspects of college.
“I’m very glad that I took that step so early because it helped me get used to living away from home at an early age,” Dingle said. “The academics were very tough, and they prepared me in a great way for Penn. I couldn’t have asked for any better preparation for Division I basketball. I had a really great, knowledgeable coaching staff who helped develop my game to the next level.”
Coach Steve Donahue believes that Dingle’s basketball pedigree and his experience playing against elite talent have eased Dingle’s transition to the college game.
“[His pedigree and experience] make it easier for him to transition to this level,” Donahue said. “[That] doesn’t mean it’s not going to be hard; he’s going to have some ups and downs like all freshmen. But physically and mentally I think he’s more prepared than the typical freshman.”
Through the Quakers’ first three games this season, Dingle has shown the physical and mental strength that Donahue praises. He has averaged just over 16 points per game in the three Penn contests this season, and he had the game-winning basket in the Red and Blue’s season-opening victory against Alabama.
Dingle is confident in his abilities, which have allowed him to get off to such a strong start, but he realizes that he still has room to grow.
“As far as my game, everything can be improved,” Dingle said. “There’s never anybody who’s perfect at anything. I try to pride myself on not having too many holes in my game. I think I’m a complete player in that sense, but I also have miles and miles and miles to go in terms of improvement.”
This potential for improvement has Donahue excited about the contribution Dingle will have not only this year, but for years to come.
“I think there’s a lot that he can do, [but] I think he’s just scratched the surface,” Donahue said. “This is really a grind unlike [anything] he’s ever experienced. When he gets used to the mental side of [college basketball], I think he’s really going to have a great career.”
Jordan Dingle figures to play a large role in any success the Quakers have this season. While this season will surely feature ups and downs for both Dingle and the Quakers, fans can be certain that they will be seeing Dingle’s name in headlines for years to come.