Sewickley Academy athlete of the week: JJ Jardini

Monday, March 9, 2020 | 10:58 PM

JJ Jardini

School: Sewickley Academy

Sport: Basketball

Class: Junior

Claim to fame: JJ Jardini draws inspiration from plenty of sources. Three years ago, it was watching her cousin Maddie Simpson win the WPIAL championship with Chartiers-Houston. This season, it was with her younger sister on the team. And sometimes she can’t stop watching clips of her favorite basketball legends.

Jardini helped lead Sewickley Academy to the playoffs this season and scored a team-high 11 points in its PIAA finale.

What do you love about basketball?

I love the speed of basketball. All five people on the court are so important in every play. In soccer, if you play defense, you might go two minutes without touching the ball. Everybody is included all the time in basketball.

What’s the key to being a good point guard?

You have to see the whole floor. You have to see what other people don’t. If you start to run a play and they switch defenses, you have to be the one to get everyone on the same page to attack the new defense.

Your coach said you are great defender. What do you feel your greatest strength is on that end of the court?

I think it goes back to team defense. It’s not a one-on-one game. We all hustled to beat every player, and I think that’s why we were all successful on defense.

How much did you enjoy having your little sister Rinnie on the team?

I loved it. At first, I was nervous, because I didn’t want sisterly fights to get in the way of the team, but it was amazing. If I was messing up, she wasn’t going to lie about it. She would tell me the truth and help me figure out what to do. I really appreciated having her with me.

Your family has a basketball background. Who is the best player?

I didn’t see my mom play, but I watched my cousins Jordan and Maddie Simpson at Chartiers-Houston. Maddie won a WPIAL championship, and I remember being so amazed with her and her teammates. That’s when I thought about basketball seriously. They both inspired me to work hard in basketball.

What would it mean to you to win a WPIAL championship in your senior year?

That is really what was in the back of our heads this whole year. That’s what we were working for. If I could do it with my sister and my friends on the court next year, it would mean the world to me.

What else do you enjoy at Sewickley Academy?

I love the classes now that I’m a junior. I can take more elective classes instead of basic science or basic history. There are a lot of options like chemistry and other classes I’m really interested in.

Who would you like to play basketball with for a day?

Probably Steve Nash and Debbie Black. They were on the shorter side of the NBA and WNBA, and they owned the court. They’re the shortest people on the court. Me being 5-foot-3, it speaks to me, so I like to watch their highlights.