A typical weekday for Tevon Saddler starts at 6:30 a.m. in his Aberdeen home, continues with a train ride to Baltimore, then a bus ride from Penn Station to East Chase St., followed by a day of books and basketball at St. Frances, and finally a train ride back to Harford County where he arrives home between 8 and 9 p.m.
The seemingly exhausting schedule is worth it to Saddler, who transferred to St. Frances from Aberdeen so that he could face tougher competition and sharpen his skills. So far, the move has been a positive one.
“We’re doing good,” Saddler said. “I fit in. We’re just on the court and off the court, balling. It’s not like we’re just playing basketball. We help each other out with work outside the classroom.”
Saddler, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound wing, joins senior point guard Daquan Cook (UNLV), senior center Josh Forney (Loyola), senior guard Tyrus Costley, senior guard Miles Code, sophomore guard Allen Costley and senior power forward Sunny Odogwu on what should be one of the Baltimore Catholic League’s deepest teams.
“Basically I just play defense, score, be a vocal leader,” Saddler said. “I play the point when necessary, but mainly the wing. [I can play the] 1 through 3.”
Saddler enters the 2011-12 season as one of the Baltimore area’s most intriguing prospects. The junior played for Team Melo on the AAU circuit over the summer, but a bothersome patella injury prevented him from playing his best.
At the Under Armour Grind Session in Chicago in September, however, Saddler was 100 percent healthy. ESPN.com’s Reggie Rankin named the Panthers junior the Breakout Player of the event.
“Saddler is an athletic wing who has good length and competes on both ends of the floor,” Rankin wrote. “He excels on the break and from the wing off the bounce, where he can get to the rim and finish above it with a clear path. He is a slasher who will give a lazy defender nightmares. Saddler can rebound and initiate the break and is a very good and willing passer, but he must work to extend his range and make his jumper a consistent weapon to take his game to the next level. He plays with great urgency and is a capable multiple-position defender as well.”
After the Grind Session, Saddler said his phone “just kept ringing.” He said he picked up offers from Cornell, Delaware, Duquesne and Towson. Saddler has also heard from a host of high-major and mid-major-plus schools, including George Mason, Maryland, Miami, Missouri, North Carolina State, Oregon State, South Carolina, South Florida, St. Joseph’s, UNLV, VCU, Villanova, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
Saddler said he has no favorites in his recruitment. He said that the Terps “would be in the mix” if they offered.
“I’ve been up there and everything, seen the facilities,” Saddler said. “I’ve seen the campus a little bit. I know they need to just give the coach a chance.”
Delaware, meanwhile, presents another intriguing option. Saddler’s older brother Devon is the Blue Hens’ top player and the reigning CAA Player of the Week. Tevon would be a freshman when Devon is a senior. How likely is it that the Saddler brothers will team up in Newark?
“It’s always an option, but I always wanted to do my own path,” Saddler said. “My brother, he wants me to do what’s best for me. When he comes home, he pushes me to play one-on-one, beats me up and all that stuff. He just basically wants me to have success. I know I’ve got the ability to go high-major.”
Saddler said he’s focused on his junior season now and will concentrate on recruiting after the Panthers’ 2011-12 campaign.
“[I’m just looking for] somewhere I could fit in,” Saddler said. “Basically, I just want to feel the family bond.”