Photo courtesy of Under Armour Association/Kelly Kline.
By David Cordova
Many times in life, it is very interesting to see two generations of ballers doing their thing just 20 years apart. But 40 years apart is even more amazing. To see fathers and sons prosper in different generations is a treat.
Back in 1980, Gary Springer, Sr. was rated one of the best players in the nation out of Harlem’s Benjamin Franklin High School. That year, he was named a McDonald’s All-American and then would go on to play four years at Iona College, where he would win the Haggerty Award as a freshman in 1980-81 and would be a two-time MAAC First Team selection as a sophomore and junior.
In four years with the Gaels, Springer scored 1,866 points and led them to two NIT appearances as a sophomore and junior and a NCAA Tournament appearance as a senior in 1983-84. He finished his time at the New Rochelle school as the third-leading rebounder in school history.
He was drafted in the sixth round of the 1984 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers, but would never play in the NBA Draft. He did however go on to play one season of professional basketball in Puerto Rico.
Fast-forward to 22 years later, Gary Springer, Jr., went on to Iona himself and would go on to make a name for himself, as he was a part of a Gaels squad that went to the NCAA Tournament in 2005-06. Another son, Jordan Springer, played for the Army, from 2009-13. Also, there is a cousin who plays in the pros in DeAndre Bembry, a forward from the Atlanta Hawks.
And now we go to the present day, where another Springer is making a name for himself. This time it’s Jaden Springer, the youngest son in the clan. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard is a player with a silky-smooth shot and a toughness that stands out. And for that reason, he is rated as the No. 13 prospect in the Class of 2020 by ESPN.
When asked what motivates him to be successful on the court, he replied, “What motivates me to be successful is pretty much, my family, they put in a lot of effort into basketball, they know that’s the sport I love, so it motivates me pretty much, I can’t let them down.”
Springer, who hails from Charlotte, North Carolina, has been ingrained with the game since day one, but started taking the game seriously at the age of eight. In the state of North Carolina, the talent level is very high, as they call it the Hoop State.
When asked about the basketball culture in Charlotte, he replied, “I mean, it’s like any other city, it’s not too big in basketball, but everybody still plays basketball. You go to a gym and it’s packed and everybody’s playing pickup all the time.”
Knowing that his father was a big name back in the day, the younger Springer loves to play the game and continues to uphold the family name every time he steps on the court. When asked what advice the elder Springer gives him, he replied, “Pretty much, he taught me to be tough. You can’t be soft, people are going to come at you, everybody’s coming to make a name off you, and you can’t back down from anybody.”
Springer started out high school at Rocky River High School in Mint Hill, North Carolina, and made a name out there as he scored more than 1,800 points in two years. As a sophomore, he averaged 25 points and 10 rebounds and was named the Southwestern 4A Player of the Year by the Charlotte Observer.
When asked about his time at Rocky River, he replied, “Oh, yeah, Rocky River, that was pretty much my local school, so I went there, had a good time. The basketball team down there, they wasn’t pretty good, until I came there, me and a couple of my teammates changed the culture, and [my] last season [there], we made the final four, never happened before, so we did good things out there.”
After doing two years in the Hoop State, Springer went on to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, and set his sights on playing in front of national competition. Last season as a junior, he was one of the focal points of the Ambassadors’ offense and helped lead them to a GEICO Nationals championship, a 31-1 record and the No. 1 national ranking. He also averaged 15.6 points, four assists and four rebounds per game.
When asked about transferring to IMG and the experience of helping them win a national championship, he replied, “A season with them was like no other, playing with three McDonald’s All-Americans, a great point guard, a great freshman, great teammates, like, you don’t get that experience [anywhere else], and being with guys that you basically live with every day, it’s just a crazy experience, especially winning a national championship.”
On how it felt to be a national champion, Springer replied, “Oh, it definitely feels good, for sure.”
When asked about being rated as one of the top 15 players in his class, he replied, “I mean, it’s cool, I don’t really look at it, I’m just trying to get better.”
In terms of his recruitment, Springer is now down to five schools: Memphis, Michigan, Florida, Tennessee and the school from his native state, North Carolina. All five options seem to be good at the present time, due to their success and coaching. It will be interesting to see where he will end up at in the fall of 2020, but for right now, he plans to keep his options open and see where everything shakes out.
On the strengths and weaknesses in his game, he replied, “Offensively, I can shoot a midrange [jumper], getting to the basket, I’m working on my defense, that’s getting better, all-around, I think I do everything pretty well.”
This spring, in eight games with B. Maze Elite on the Under Armour Association circuit, he averaged 15.8 points per game. Now heading into his senior season, things are bright as he plans to make a decision on his school and plans to bring IMG another national championship.
And if everything goes according to plan, he may also be selected to play in the McDonald’s All-American Game in March, just like his father did 39 years ago.
But for right now, the younger Springer’s plan is simple: get better. “You can expect me to be a become a better basketball player, I’ll say that,” he said.
For those that don’t know him now, look out for Jaden Springer in the near future. For him, the best is yet to come.