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Learning Curve: Bushwick native’s determination leads to dominant hoops career

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He considers himself a student.

Jon Severe is always learning, always determined to get better and overcome the next obstacle. It’s a trait that served the Bushwick native well in the classroom — graduating from Fordham University in three years — and on the basketball court.

Severe, in the midst of his final season of eligibility, has settled into a leadership role at Iona College this year, but he’s still learning. In fact, he’s learned more about himself this year than ever before.

“I’ve just tried to get smarter on the court,” Severe said. “Before I was kind of fresh to the game and I’m always trying to learn something new. I’ve learned to trust my body and started really doing the right things on and off the court.”

Severe’s basketball education began at Christ the King, leading the Royals to a Federation title as a senior. He was also named a Parade All-American and New York’s Mr. Basketball, the state’s highest honor, wrapping up his career in Queens with more than 1,100 points.

“Christ the King was always a great program, and they always find a way to win,” Severe said. “There’s just a ton of talent in that team. It really helped shape me as a player.”

Severe learned even more at the college level — fine-tuning his game and his offensive presence to become one of the most dominant scorers in Fordham history. He set the Rams freshman scoring record with a whopping 536 points, and he racked up 10 games with double-digit points as a junior last season.

Severe credits his determination to learn more about the game for helping him on the court. He’s worked on his shooting technique for as long as he can remember, but as far as Severe is concerned, there’s always room for improvement.

“I think I’ve improved my shot-selection,” he said. “It’s easier to tell what’s a good shot and what’s a bad shot now. I’m still trying to be a bit more defensive-minded as a guard though.”

Severe graduated from Fordham in three years with a degree in communications, but he still wanted a brand-new challenge and it found it — at Iona.

He’s had to work to find a place in the Gaels starting lineup, but Severe believes he’s hit his stride over the last few weeks. His 11.3 points per game are second on the team in scoring, and Severe saw action in all of the team’s first 23 games.

He’s still learning, but he’s also having some fun.

“I thought the team was really good for my style of play. I’ve had fun playing here,” Severe said. “It’s a score-first program, and that’s my kind of mentality.”

Severe has been around the basketball block over the last decade or so, and now that he’s at Iona, he’s doing his best to impart a few of those lessons on to his teammates. The student, in this case, has become the teacher.

“I’ve been in just about every situation on a basketball court,” Severe said. “So I try to help the freshman out and help out teammates who haven’t seen certain things before. I kind of see that as my role.”

Severe has one more thing he’d like to learn at Iona — how to win a championship. The Gales are the favorites to repeat as Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champions and Severe is determined for one final test on the national stage.

And he’s ready to work for it.

“I’ve just been trying to come to practice every day and play hard,” Severe said. “That’s always been my mentality. I want to be consistent, come out and take over.”

Posted 12:00 am, February 8, 2017
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