William Jeffress is one of the top juniors in the entire country and a player that ranks very high on Jeff Capel’s recruiting board.
Jeffress (6-foot-7, 195 pounds) attends McDowell High School in Erie, Pa., and is a consensus 4-star recruit and top 40 player in the Class of 2021.
That could change as Jeffress is academically eligible to re-classify to the Class of 2020, which is something he and his family are contemplating.
Wednesday afternoon, Pittsburgh Sports Now had the chance to speak at length with this talented and very articulate player from Erie. The first thing we learned was that Jeffress is fully aware of how much of a priority he is to Capel and Pitt.
“I feel like I’ve been a heavy priority for them every since the first day that college coaches were permitted to actually contact me on my phone,” said Jeffress. “Coach Capel was one of the first people to contact me and we had a conversation of over 30 minutes about his vision of the Pitt program, of where I would fit in and who he thinks I am and what I could be.
“Since then, they’ve been in heavy contact with me. He’s been to a couple of my games, he’s sent a couple of his assistants to a couple of my away games. I also have a couple of their assistants texting me all the time, who are trying to build a strong relationship with me. Sometimes out of the blue, I might get a text from him letting me know that he’s thinking of me and texts me ‘I WANT TO BE YOUR COACH’ in all caps.”
As you can imagine, the heavy attention that Pitt is showing Jeffress is making an impression on him and lets him know Pitt is very serious about wanting him to join and become a center piece of their program.
“When a coach shows that much interest in you and lets you know that they want you at their school and that they believe in you and your ability to the max, it leaves an everlasting impression,” said Jeffress. “Coach Capel tells me that he’s really looking forward to me coming to the program and hopefully getting the chance to develop me and get me to the next level because he says that he knows that’s where I can eventually get to. I believe that he envisions me as being one of the players he builds around and getting players like me that can get Pitt basketball back to where should be. That’s what he’s been trying to tell me that I’m a player that he wants to build around.”
Former Pitt great Brandin Knight was a player that was instrumental in the rebirth of Pitt basketball under former head coach Ben Howland and if he selects Pitt, Jeffress would welcome the opportunity to be that man with Capel.
“That would definitely be a challenge I’d love to accept,” Jeffress told PSN. “I believe in my abilities and I know Coach Capel believes in my abilities. I think that would be a big thing for Pennsylvania basketball to get someone from their area and build back up the basketball in this area and keep talent from the area home and to let other players know that something special can be built right with your hometown school.”
As far as strengths of his game, Jeffress says that tops on that list is his basketball IQ along with his size and athleticism.
“This summer I really worked on my jump shot and it’s come a long way. I’ve now become a 3-point threat with range and getting to the basket, I consider myself a three-level scorer. I also love to get my teammates involved and believe that I’m the type of player that can run an offense and get the ball to where it needs to be or be the go to guy for the team. I believe I have the ability to lead and bring a team together for the common goal of winning games.”
Jeffress is academically qualified to re-classify to the Class of 2020 and is entertaining that option but it will depend on the school and program. Nothing on that has been determined but it’s something that Capel is talking to Jeffress about.
At this point, schools showing the most interest in Jeffress are Pitt, Memphis, Miami, Baylor, Auburn, Alabama, Marquette, Penn State, Stanford, Michigan and Louisville. Official offers have come from Pitt, Baylor, Alabama and Penn State.