When Jaren Sina was a freshman at Gill St. Bernard’s, one of the first college coaches to show interest in him was Fred Hill Jr.
Hill, then the coach at Rutgers, envisioned the talented combo-guard one day contributing to his Scarlet Knights backcourt. That moment never occurred as Hill parted ways with Rutgers in April of 2010 when Sina was still a freshman.
The duo was reunited last year when Hill became an assistant to former Princeton coach Bill Carmody at Northwestern and immediately started recruiting Sina. Hill’s perseverance paid off on Monday night when Sina, a rising senior and the Courier News Boys Basketball Player of the Year in 2012, announced he would be attending Northwestern in the fall of 2013.
“I was really impressed with their (Northwestern) staff,” said Sina, who guided Gill St. Bernard’s to a 27-4 record, a second straight Somerset County Tournament title and the program’s first sectional crown. “I saw myself playing in that system where there is a lot of ball movement and screens being set.
“I knew I could be successful there.”
After letting Carmody know he would be heading to Evanston, Ill., Sina had the task of telling Mike Rice and Kevin Willard he wouldn’t be going to Rutgers and Seton Hall, respectively.
“They were definitely in the mix,” said Sina about the two Jersey schools. “It was difficult, but one of the first offers I ever received was from Coach Hill. He recruited me very hard. He’s been there from the beginning.”
The multi-talented Sina had verbally committed to Alabama in January of his sophomore year, then changed his mind last fall, opening up the door for one of the most hotly contested recruiting battles in recent memory in the state.
In addition to Rutgers and Seton Hall, Virginia, Pittsburgh and even Alabama were among the schools hoping to land Sina, who averaged 20 points and 8.4 assists per game, shot 42.9 percent from 3-point range and tallied 250 assists compared to 69 turnovers this past season.
“I tried not to get caught up in everything,” Sina admitted about the pressure-packed world of college basketball recruiting. “I wanted to stay open-minded about my choices.”
Sina, whose father Mergin coaches the Gill squad, said “there is a very good chance (I) could start as a freshman,” but added, “I don’t expect to be handed anything.”