New to Andover Boys Basketball as a Post-Graduate (PG), Sam Jefferson ’16 recently posted one of the most impressive individual performances in recent history. Scoring a career-high 39 points in front of a raucous Deerfield crowd, an unstoppable Jefferson broke Andover’s record for most 3-pointers in one game, totaling eight 3-pointers on 73 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
In a game where many of Andover’s most dependable players struggled to adjust to the atmosphere, Jefferson, who has a history of playing in challenging environments from his time at Newton North High School in Newton, Mass., single-handedly guided the team to victory.
Head Coach Terrell Ivory ’00 said, “[In the last game], I was very impressed with [Jefferson’s] poise in a very adverse environment. His leadership and shot making abilities will be very important to our collective success moving forward.”
Jefferson scored over half of the team’s points while remaining efficient, sinking seven of his eight free throw attempts.
Where did you play before coming to Andover and how was it different?
Before [Andover] I played at Newton North High School and in a lot of ways it was really similar. Both have really good coaches and playing styles. One difference, though, is [at Newton North] the program had been very established for many years so my old team was trying to keep a tradition standing. Here, we are trying to rebuild the program and get it back to where it used to be and that is competing for a [New England Preparatory School Athletic Council] Class A championship.
How do you keep your cool in high-stakes situations?
I think to myself that [high -stakes situations] are times when my team has to step up the most, so I know that if I lose my cool in those situations then that will obviously hurt our team as well as my personal performance. So I think I am usually pretty level-headed and just try to stay in the moment.
What do you do to keep your shooting sharp?
We do some shooting drills in practice, but also shooting during free periods and in between classes. I have to do extra shooting to keep it at a high level or I will lose my stroke. So I think just the repetition over and over and having friends like [Andrew Sasanuma ’16 and Matt Shea ’18 ] rebounding for me definitely helps me stay motivated.
What is your favorite play?
Basically all of our out-of-bounds plays are great and they are pretty much all for me, but “Up” is probably my favorite one. I start in the corner and come off a screen until I am under the hoop, and then [point guard Danny Evans ’16] gets [the ball] and dribbles to the wing. Then I go through a double screen, which my defender usually runs into, and then I am wide-open for a 3-pointer.
What are you looking forward to for the rest of the season?
I am looking forward to [Andover] finishing strong and getting in the top eight for a playoff spot. I think that would be a really cool thing to do after a disappointing season last year – to be able to turn around this year and [possibly] compete for a championship this year, especially being new to the prep school league and seeing what the environment is all about.