McDonogh 35 coach Kevin Sanders remembers when “Deeky” — a nickname DeJon Jarreau picked up because his mother’s nickname was “Reeky” — was just a “scrawny kid who was all over the place.”
That was during Deeky’s freshman season.
This is now.
He’s still slim, but that hasn’t stopped the 6-foot-5 senior point guard from rapidly powering his way up the national rankings.
Jarreau is ranked the No. 44 senior in the country, according to the latest Rivals rankings released on Friday.
He made a giant leap after being ranked No. 72 earlier this summer.
“It means a lot,” Jarreau said. “It lets me know that all my hard work has been paying off. I felt like was better than what some of the folks thought, and I felt like they just needed to see me play.”
Jarreau is in North Augusta, Georgia, this week playing in the Nike Peach Jam, an AAU Tournament. Last week, he was in California competing at the Nike Basketball Academy with some of the top players in the country.
The exposure has helped in what has been a steady climb in the rankings for Jarreau this summer.
“I think it’s just been a combination of his talent and him meeting the expectations we have set for him,” Sanders said. “I, along with his AAU coach, have challenged him to take his game to another level. He has always had that potential, and he has really tapped into that.”
The collage coaches have taken notice, with offers coming in left and right.
Texas, UMass, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Miami, Creighton, Florida, Southern Cal and Wichita State have shown the most interest, Jarreau said.
But he doesn’t plan to make any decision before his senior season at McDonogh 35.
“I’m looking for a school that I can go in there and have an opportunity to play a lot,” Jarreau said. “And somewhere I have a good relationship with the coach and a school that runs their offense through the point (guard). I’m still wide open right now.”
While he is unsure about his college choice, he is certain about his plans for his senior season at McDonogh 35.
“I want to win a championship,” Jarreau said. “This year we can go all the way. We have pretty much the same team back.”
Jarreau helped the Roneagles reach the Class 4A semifinals last season, where they fell to Salmen. He was an All-Metro selection by The New Orleans Advocate after averaging 17 points and just over four assists per game.
“He is an extension of the coach on the floor,” Sanders said. “He has a good working knowledge of the game. He keeps everybody involved, but he can score when he has to.”
Sanders said his point guard really began blossoming during his sophomore season.
Jarreau said it was a trip to Las Vegas last summer when he saw the college recruiters really starting to take notice.
He lists LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and New Orleans native Elfrid Payton as his favorite players. He plays AAU ball for the Elfrid Payton Elite.
His coach, however, said his game reminds him more of Magic Johnson.
“He distributes first and just makes everyone around him better,” Sanders said.
Jarreau is one of four Louisiana players to make Rivals rankings.
Landry-Walker guard Lamar Peters, a Mississippi State commitment, is ranked No. 87. North Caddo forward Robert Williams, a Texas A&M commit, is No. 107 and Natchitoches Central forward Cameron Lard is No. 127.
Jarreau, who lives in Algiers, is the latest in what has been a solid string of point guards on the west bank, following former Landry-Walker floor general Tyree Griffin (a sophomore at Oklahoma State) and ex-Helen Cox guard Marlain Veal (a freshman at Southeastern Louisiana.).
Griffin and Veal were named Most Valuable Player on The New Orleans Advocate’s All-Metro teams the past two seasons.
Could Jarreau, who stands a little over a half foot taller than those two, be next in line?
Playing the past few years in the district with guys like Griffin, he said, has made him better.
“It’s good competition,” Jarreau said. “It’s not easy. You have to bring your ‘A’ game every game.”
This summer, Deeky has done just that.