The latest offer from Jeff Capel goes to one of the top overall players in the Class of 2023.
Tuesday night, Capel called to extend an offer to 2023 4-star center Jazz Gardner from Los Altos, California. Gardner (7-feet, 225 pounds) is ranked by 247Sports as the No. 5 center prospect and the No. 48 overall junior. As a freshman, Gardner, averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots per game. Then as a sophomore, he improved those numbers to 25.1 points and 13 rebounds per game.
Gardner comes from a great basketball bloodline as his father, Jelani, was a 1994 McDonald’s All-American, then went on to play at California and Pepperdine before playing professionally overseas.
Pittsburgh Sports Now caught up with Gardner Tuesday night after his basketball practice and getting word of his latest offer from Pitt.
“I got the news from my dad, who spoke to Coach Capel in the morning and my dad told me when I got up,” said Gardner. “It’s just a real honor to receive an offer from a program like Pitt and Coach Capel.”
Gardner tells PSN that after getting the offer that he started to do some research into the Pitt program and then started to tell us about himself and the strong points of his game.
“I’m a player that’s going to play smart and I believe that I have a high basketball IQ so most times I make the right play and don’t force every shot that I see. I have a good post game, I can dribble it up, I can shoot the ball and you can know that when I get the ball that I’m not going to be selfish with it. My offense comes from both the inside and outside but I like to get my money from inside the paint and then take it outside from 3’s.”
Along with Pitt, Gardner has also received offers from Kansas, LSU, USC, Pepperdine, Virginia Tech, Washington State and UC Santa Barbara. While he is excited and appreciative for the offers and attention, Gardner tells me that he’s not focused on recruiting now and has his eye on improving his individual game this summer.
“I really try not to get caught up in everything that’s going on and the offers,” said Gardner. “My focus is on working on improving my game from year to year rather than focusing on the amount of offers I have or my individual ranking and stuff like that. One thing I’m working on is trying to get my ball-handling a little bit better so that I can bring it up and it can be tight on a string like Kevin Durant at one point. I also want to get stronger, not heavier, just get some more muscle so that I can dominate. Also, I want to work on my flexibility, which is one of my weaknesses right now.”
“I pattern myself and my game after my dad. He gave me his game and I have all his crosses, footwork and pull-up shots.”
Gardner is excited about an upcoming competition that he’ll be playing with the French National Team in the U-18 European U18 Championships from August 3-8. Gardner was actually born in France, while his father was playing professional basketball overseas.