Jordan Dill closes in on the GFS basketball points record

by Ben Silver
Posted 6/18/24

Dill gets the ball out of the timeout, and sure enough, when he drives to the basket and Shipley defenders collapse on him, his man is wide open.

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Jordan Dill closes in on the GFS basketball points record

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The Germantown Friends School Tigers are up only three points with a minute to go. Sophomore Jordan Dill is dog tired. Their star player has had to fill a less offensive role tonight with one of the Tigers’ primary rebounders, Caleb Hess, out of the lineup.

Soon-to-be owner of the GFS points record set at 2,022 by Jonathan Haynes in the late ‘90s, Dill has 27 points on the evening, made even more impressive by his 18 rebounds and six assists. Double and triple teamed throughout the game, Dill must no longer merely be a scorer, but a thinker too, and he has a plan. 

Dill bursts into the huddle and lets head coach and 2015 GFS alum Jamil Pines-Elliot in on his strategy. “‘Coach, give me the ball. I’m going to drive and kick to Emerson [Van Cleve] who’s going to be open for a layup,’” Pines-Elliot remembers.

Dill gets the ball out of the timeout, and sure enough, when he drives to the basket and Shipley defenders collapse on him, his man is wide open. The senior, Van Cleve, finishes the easy basket to put GFS up by five points and seal the victory.

Though Dill’s best asset is his ability to seemingly score at will, he has an equally gifted mind, and a talent for getting the best out of his teammates.

“He just has an aura about him,” Pines-Elliot continues. “He walks into a room and the room just lights up; he is that type of kid.”

It wasn’t always like that for Dill. He arrived at GFS as an eighth grader in 2021. Shy and perhaps unprepared for the rigors of work at one of the nation’s top private schools, Dill spent most of his lunches in the office of then head coach Shawn Werdt.

The transition from public Wagner Middle School out in Ogontz, to the undeniably collegiate atmosphere of GFS would be a tough transition for anyone, let alone a kid who had the weight of the world on his shoulders.

“I had none of my friends. In one class, I was the only black person… coming from Wagner, we were barely learning, we never went to class, the teachers didn’t care. I would play basketball all day. I had friends that passed away that went there.” Dill paused. “It was a lot. I had to grow up fast.”

On and off the court, Dill’s adaptability is one of many attributes that make him special. 

“He went from eating lunch in my office every day, me and him, to then by the middle of the year I barely saw him,” Werdt said. “He [became] the Pied Piper of the campus.”

Former GFS boys’ basketball coach Shawn Werdt (right) still has a close relationship with Dill, despite the fact Werdt is no longer Dill’s coach.

Dill’s off-court enthusiasm has waxed with his on-court performance. Nevertheless, he’s aware that there’s plenty of room for improvement, despite the fact that he might already be the best player in GFS basketball history.

Dill, Pines-Elliot and Werdt agree that he could improve on defense. Several years ago, Pines-Elliot was quoted saying that Dill played “Swiss cheese defense.” He let a few too many players through when tired and tried to grab one too many hero steals.

Though his defense has seen characteristic improvement, Pines-Elliot is looking for more in DIll’s junior year.

“Sometimes the effort isn't always there, but when he brings it, he's tremendous,” Pines-Elliot said. “It's just that he has to be super locked in. He usually [defends] the best guard or forward on the other team and he has had some really big moments this past year. But he can be better, he can definitely be better.” 

2015 GFS alum Pines-Elliot (center-left) is the stalwart coach of varsity boys basketball.

Don’t take that light criticism as Pines-Elliot chewing Dill out. He merely wants his star player to be the best version of himself, which is what Dill wants too.

With less than a year until the college recruitment process becomes more serious, Dill has several months to become the best version of himself. Whether that’s adapting to high-stress situations, improving on defense or, in Werdt’s words, becoming a more “pure point guard,” there’s not just one thing Dill has to focus on.

“I don't look at it like it's like it's pressure. Because if I look at it like it's pressure, it means it's going to be even more pressure,” Dill said. “Like my dad told me, ‘you got to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable’.”

As easy as things have been on the court in the Friends League, it won’t stay that way. Like it or not, every star athlete eventually faces serious adversity. 

Several years ago, Dill was quoted saying that his goal was 3,000 points. He currently sits at 1,683, and, at his current pace, he will break the GFS record a little less than halfway into next season.

“My next goal is just… being a better leader, winning and having an impact on my guys,” Dill said. “I'll probably say individually just being a better person, for each player down from the first guy to the last guy.”

In one way, tallying points might be easier than bettering yourself as a human being. Scoring is straightforward. Being a better leader, a better teammate, a better person… that takes dedication. But if the game against Shipley is any indication, Dill is ready to pass the rock and shine a light on his teammates, especially when defenders and doubters expect him to do the opposite.