Penn State officially added a third member to its 2012 class yesterday, as Reading (Pa.) Berks Catholic High School forward Donovon Jack signed with the Nittany Lions. Jack’s name came on the radar late, after a decommitment from Duquesne and a senior season seeing him average over 17 points and 10 rebounds a game, good enough for AAA first-team All-State honors.
Jack signed with the Nittany Lions on Thursday.
Pat Chambers saw another ‘Penn State guy’ in Jack, showing off quality play on the court and coupling it with solid off-the-court character. We got a chance to catch up with Penn State’s newest commitment and get the scoop on what led to his decision.
Lions247: Can you take us through the process after decommitting from Duquesne?
Donovon Jack: After decommitting from Duquesne we kind of just let the phones ring and see what schools were calling to see who was interested.
Lions247: You visited Penn State after being granted your release, what was that visit like?
Donovon Jack: A few days after I was granted my release I took a visit up to Penn State. It went well, I really enjoyed the campus, it was the first time I got to see campus. I had see a game there before but that was it so it was nice to see everything. It was fun to spend the day with Coach Chambers and some of the guys on the team. They were saying they would love to have me, the staff likes the way I play and how I would be a good fit academically.
Lions247: Growing up in Pennsylvania were you much of a Penn State fan?
Donovon Jack: A little bit, but these past few years I've followed college basketball more closely, so basically I was following the schools who were showing interest in me.
Lions247: You had a relationship with Coach Chambers before he was at Penn State, can you talk about that?
Donovon Jack: Coach Chambers was recruiting me back when he was up at Boston University. I actually took a visit up there and liked it up there, I’ve always really liked Coach Chambers. Unfortunately last year when I was going through the whole commitment process they didn’t have any scholarships available so I kind of crossed them off. So when I got my release Coach started talking to me again and we picked up right where we left off.
Lions247: What was his message to you and how did he sell Penn State to you?
Donovon Jack: It was really the whole package, I mean he answered all the questions I had but from an academic standpoint it’s a great school with a great alumni base that will set me up for the rest of my life post-basketball. He didn’t say anything about redshirting, so I'm looking to come right in and help the team immediately. He said he has my best interests in mind and I believe that, so if that includes a redshirt then I’ll do whatever I have to.
Lions247: What other schools were you talking with after the decommitment?
Donovon Jack: I kept Duquesne in the picture and my other final school was Clemson. There were other schools who had called my dad, but these were my main three.
Lions247: What lead to being released from your original letter of intent to Duquesne?
Donovon Jack: I just wanted to consider my options to see what else I had. It wasn’t anything against Duquesne I just wanted to see what else was out there for me.
Lions247: Going forward, how do you think you’re going to fit in to the Big Ten?
Donovon Jack: I'm really excited to play in the conference, it all depends on once I get there and start working with the coaches and stuff like that. Granted, I know I have to put some weight on but I feel like I'm ready to play right away.
Lions247: Since you came on the radar late in the process many Penn State fans don’t know much about you, can you explain what type of game you’ve got?
Donovon Jack: In high school I’ve always been the tallest player so my post game is really refined, because that’s what I’ve focused on the most. I feel like my footwork down low is pretty solid. Over the past year I've been working on a little jump shot that I'm extending and working on my face up game a bit.
Lions247: What part of your game are you trying to improve upon the most?
Donovon Jack: I'm continuing to work out with my strength coach until I get to school, but I'm working on everything really. Just getting reps is my main concern.
Lions247: Going forward, what are your plans? Are you enrolling at Penn State during the summer?
Donovon Jack: I still have to talk with Coach Chambers about that, I only signed my papers today (laughs), but I will probably be up there this summer taking a few classes and getting acclimated with the campus and the guys on the team.
Lions247: How does it feel to be committed again? Do you have a message to Penn State fans?
Donovon Jack: It feels good, I know where I'm going to college now it isn’t up in the air anymore. It is nice not to have to worry about the process any more. I'm glad to join the Penn State family and can’t wait to help take them to the next level.
Earlier in the day we caught up with Berks Catholic head coach Ken Esterly to learn a little bit more about Jack and get some insight to what kind of player he is.
Lions247: Can you describe Donovon’s game for us?
Ken Esterly: He is very crafty down low and can get shots up in multiple ways. Donovon also has a very good jumper, he can go out to 17-20 feet, but he needs some time to shoot it. We really didn’t need that from him though and wanted to keep him inside, but that jumper is definitely a part of his game.
Lions247: Where can you see him improving going forward?
Ken Esterly: Definitely in the weight room, he can add at least 15-20 pounds, and that’s going to happen, there’s no doubting his work ethic. The kid is one of the hardest workers I've ever had in the gym, both on and off the court. Very unselfish kid, probably one of the easiest kids I’ve had to coach.
Lions247: How do you see Donovon’s game translating to college?
Ken Esterly: I think he is going to be able to run the court and also go down in the post, it is going to be a great luxury. If there’s someone bigger and less mobile on him he can go outside to stick a 15 or 17-footer, if you get a smaller guy on him Donovon is going to take him to the basket. I tell you what, his improvement from his junior to senior year was remarkable, and if he continues along that path, Penn State has a very nice player coming in, because I know he is going to work hard and get better.
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