SIDNEY — Andre Gordon guaranteed Sidney’s boys basketball squad would win a rare sectional championship last March. After he announced about a month later he was transferring to play his senior season at Huntington Prep, it looked like the Yellow Jackets would have to try to make good on that promise without him.
Gordon re-enrolled at Sidney on Tuesday after spending the fall at a Catholic high school in West Virginia and practicing with Huntington Prep. Sidney athletic director Mitch Hoying expects Gordon to be able to practice in about a week and eligible for the entire 2018-19 season.
Gordon, who verbally committed to Virginia Tech last month, transferred last summer to play on the prep squad but left the program over the weekend to return to his old high school.
“Things just didn’t work out as I planned when I went there,” Gordon said. “I’m just excited to be back.”
Hoying said he’s spoken to OHSAA director Jerry Snodgrass about the re-enrollment and said he expects Gordon won’t miss any time. The OHSAA has rules in place that can limit a transfer player’s eligibility to the first half of the season. The organization allows 11 exceptions to the rule, though, and Hoying said Gordon meets one. The school will submit paperwork to the OHSAA on the re-enrollmenet this week, and Hoying is hopeful the organization will process it in about a week’s time.
Gordon averaged 23 points, 5.5 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game for the Yellow Jackets last season. He has 1,415 career points and is the school’s all-time leader in assists (418) and steals (168).
He announced last April he was transferring to Huntington Prep, which is a basketball program that is affiliated with St. Joseph Central Catholic High School in Huntington, West Virginia. The program has produced dozens of Div. I collegiate players since it started late last decade and is a frequent invitee to showcase tournaments, like Flyin’ to the Hoop in Kettering.
Gordon participated in workouts with the team in the spring and summer and also played with the C2K AAU program. His recruiting stock rose during that time, and he picked up offers from DePaul, Xavier and Boston College among others. He had offers from over a dozen schools before giving a verbal commitment to Virginia Tech on Oct. 15.
“I’m very excited to be a Virginia Tech Hokie,” Gordon said. “That’s a lot off my shoulders so I can just focus on basketball and what’s ahead of me this season instead of what’s six months down the road and stuff I have to prepare for like that. I can just worry about playing and my game and not about who’s in the stands or anything.”
Gordon was also a football standout and led Sidney’s team at quarterback for three years, though he missed most of his sophomore season with a wrist injury. In 22 career games, he threw for 3,298 yards and 32 touchdowns and ran for 1,602 yards and 25 TDs — all while sharing the backfield with running back Isaiah Bowser, who now plays at Northwestern.
Gordon had four scholarship offers for football before announcing last March he would play basketball in college.
He attended several Sidney games last season and frequently talked to his former teammates.
“They played hard,” Gordon said. “Every night, I’d call all my friends and ask how things went. I’d even watch film to see how things went when I could.”
He’ll get to play with some of those friends again in basketball, as Sidney has several other key players coming back from last year’s 18-7 squad. Senior forward Ratez Roberts was a second team Greater Western Ohio Conference American League selection after averaging 11.6 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game.
The team also returns starters in junior guard Darren Taborn and senior guard Josiah Hudgins. Senior guard Keith Lee and junior forward Trey Werntz were key players off the bench last year.
Gordon said he’s looking forward to playing with the team again and with his fellow seniors that he’s grown up alongside.
“Basketball is basketball, and we’re going to play well,” Gordon said. “I’m going to be a leader and just be me and try to get everyone around me better.”
Sidney started 7-5 last season but won nine of its last 10 regular season games, including a 36-34 victory over Vandalia-Butler, which secured a share of its second consecutive conference title.
Sidney lost 63-62 to eventual district champion Springfield in a sectional final on March 2. It was the second sectional final loss for Sidney in the last three years, and Gordon said afterwards that the team would win a sectional title this season.
He said on Tuesday the group is going to work hard to make as deep a tournament run as possible.
“Every year, the goal’s always to try to win state,” Gordon said. “We’re going to make it farther this year than last year and the year before.”
Sidney has a beefed-up nonconference schedule this season, which Hoying prepared last year in anticipation of Gordon’s senior season.
The Yellow Jackets will face Greater Miami Conference power Mason in the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic on Dec. 1 in Hillsboro and will host Wayne on Dec. 29. Wayne finished as a regional runner-up last year to eventual state champion Moeller.
Other marquee matchups for Sidney include home GWOC crossover games against Xenia and Trotwood-Madison, which feature C2K teammates of Gordon. Xenia senior guard Samari Curtis is verbally committed to Cincinnati while Trotwood senior guard Amari Davis who is committed to Wisconsin-Green Bay.
Sidney will open the season on Nov. 30 at Tippecanoe.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.