Believe it or not, near-7 footers don’t pop up in the Northeast Corner Conference very often. I know, shock and awe, right?
It means that we should appreciate Landen Jordan while we have him.
The Churubusco senior went pretty well under the radar at the beginning of his high school career. He wasn’t as tall, he wasn’t as talented. He was a big kid who was pretty good at basketball.
Now, as he races towards trying to help push Churubusco to defending its NECC regular season and sectional titles, it is time to make sure we are appreciating his final prep days.
There was certainly potential to be seen in Jordan during his first years of high school. His height grabbed your attention, but he wasn’t ready to beat and bang in the post against the area’s best. I recall watching him during his sophomore year getting spare minutes as Concordia Lutheran visited Norwell. There was intrigue there, but you never really got to see what he was capable of when shaking off the cobwebs of being so young while try to fill bigger roles.
When Jordan left Concordia Lutheran for Churubusco midway through his sophomore season, he was forced away from the varsity court for 365 days per IHSAA rules. We could debate all day about this rule and its positives and negatives. But the thing was, as Churubusco was finding itself while Jordan was a sophomore, he sat. And it also meant that he sat for the first month or so of his junior season, not debuting on the varsity level until last January.
That alone should be a ‘wow’ factor. As entrenched as Jordan’s name has become at the very top of the local scene, it is hard to imagine that we have only seen him playing real varsity minutes for the past 12 months.
At the time, not getting onto the court with his classmates was probably destroying part of Jordan’s psyche. But hear me out: sitting out was actually a good thing. Jordan may have not come around the way he did if he was immediately thrown into the fire with the Eagles. The expectations on him as a sophomore would have been huge. As passionate and emotional as he has shown to be, you have to ask if he would have been mature enough to handle the rigors and weight of heavy expectations at that point. Being forced to sit out matured his mind and it matured his body.
Since then, there has been no looking back. Jordan is absolutely dominant each game day, especially against the NECC. While nobody is matching his size (save for 2020 Prairie Heights graduate Elijah Malone) this is still what many consider the best two years of NECC basketball we have seen in a long time and possibly ever. Through this multi-year spread, who has ever shut Jordan down?
He scored 23 points and 12 rebounds in his first Churubusco game on Jan. 8 of last year. From there, he would fail to reach double figures just twice (both wins), recording 11 double-doubles in 17 games. Churubusco would go 15-2 after Jordan joined the lineup as he finished his junior campaign averaging 15.6 points, 12.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game while being named Outside the Huddle All-Area. All of those numbers are up so far during his senior season where Churubusco has, to this point, extended its record to 23-4 all-time with Jordan in the lineup.
Yeah, he has had some average games along the way, but really look at those matchups. How many of them were just bad games for Jordan and how many of them were games where an opposing player or defense stopped him? There is no match for the combination of Jordan’s size, length and aggression. It makes for some pretty amazing basketball to watch for someone like me who loves a good post game, battle or play. Last Tuesday, as Churubusco opened up the NECC Tournament, it was just another game where Jordan looked like a man against boys, lighting up Prairie Heights with almost anything he wanted to do.
There hasn’t been someone like Jordan in the NECC ever in my estimation. There likely won’t be someone like him again.
These opinions represent those of Bounce and Outside the Huddle. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. Follow Bounce on Twitter at Bounce_OTH