Yorkville Christian’s Jaden Schutt hits the recruiting trail after pandemic layoff

Jaden Schutt’s totals are eye-opening. He’s made 217 three-pointers in three seasons while shooting 40% from beyond the arc.

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Yorkville Christian’s Jaden Schutt (2) drives around Glenbard West’s Patrick Fornatto (14).

Yorkville Christian’s Jaden Schutt (2) drives around Glenbard West’s Patrick Fornatto (14).

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

While watching Jaden Schutt and Yorkville Christian play a couple of years ago, I tweeted that the then sophomore guard was as good of a shooter as I’ve seen in Illinois in my 25 years as editor/publisher of the City/Suburban Hoops Report.

I followed it up with a tweet referencing a comparison to JJ Redick, the pure, mechanically-sound shooting extraordinaire from Duke, who great shooters are often compared to when reaching a certain elite level.

Little did I know then that Schutt literally modeled his textbook shot after Redick.

That undertaking began at an early age.

Jaden’s dad, Jeff Schutt, did a lot of coaching and ran camps at Cross Lutheran School in Yorkville during his son’s younger days. During those youth camps, Jeff Schutt would have a big screen up on the gym wall, project the video and show some JJ Redick shooting tapes and footage for all the young kids to see how it should be done.

“That’s where I learned and was taught the right way,” said Jaden Schutt of those early days of perfecting the proper shooting form and technique. “Growing up I would watch those JJ Redick tapes.”

Watching and doing, however, are obviously different. But Jaden Schutt was always wired a little differently, dad says.

“He’s very self-motivated, incredibly disciplined,” said Jeff Schutt. “He eats right, doesn’t touch sugar, goes to bed by 9:30 p.m. He saw early on that A equals B and believed it all would help him get to where he wanted as a player.”

And that motivation and discipline included mastering the perimeter jumper.

Schutt gets into shooting position quickly and displays a natural ball-hand relationship prior to any release.

There were times when the shot would get a little flat — as it can for any maturing player — but the mechanics would always win out. That includes the footwork, the flex of the knees and bend of the elbow, how it comes off his fingers, the release point and the elevation on his jumper as they are all next level — even at this young age.

The results? As a freshman he made 58 three-pointers and followed it up with a whopping 130 threes as a sophomore, including a state record 17 three-pointers in one game. This past abbreviated season saw Schutt drain 29 threes in 11 games while averaging 24 points, 8.5 rebounds and four assists a game.

The three-year totals are pretty eye-opening: Schutt has made 217 three-pointers in three seasons while shooting 40% from beyond the arc.

It’s very rare to be included in any “greatest” lists; that’s a heavy dose of big expectations and hype. But Jaden Schutt should be included on any short list of greatest shooters the state of Illinois has produced.

Schutt, the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s No. 2 ranked prospect in Illinois in the Class of 2022, has already scored 1,400 career points and has a bevy of high-major offers he’s sorting through.

“My dad was always teaching me the right way, always in my ear, ‘hold that follow through, get it up, elbow in and stuff,’” said Jaden. “I had to stay disciplined with stuff, shooting it the right way, the same way with the same release each time. Any time my shot was off my dad would give me tips. It was about learning how to do it the right way.”

Yorkville Christian coach Aaron Sovern was very familiar with his future star when he arrived. He’s been watching Schutt since he was in fifth-grade when he played with Sovern’s son, Christian, who was a seventh-grader at Cross Lutheran at the time.

Those two played at Cross Lutheran and teamed up to play in Gus Macker Tournaments as young kids. They then went on to win 46 games together in two seasons at Yorkville Christian, along with a pair of regional titles and a sectional championship in 2019.

Sovern has watched the evolution of a kid who was not even five-feet tall when he first saw him on the court to a 6-5 high school star with Big Ten coaches in hot pursuit. Sovern calls Schutt’s dedication “amazing” and has witnessed his star surpass even the hard-work expectations the coach has placed in the program. Sovern says Schutt takes it to another level.

“The nutrition, the sleep habits, the work put in,” Sovern adds. “He’s wired differently than most 17 and 18-year-olds. He has a goal in mind, and although he knows God has blessed him with talent, he wants to do anything to maximize that talent.”

But Sovern saw the metamorphosis of a player very early on. By the time Schutt was in seventh-grade, before Jaden Schutt and Christian Sovern were putting Yorkville Christian on the basketball map, Aaron Sovern knew he was about to be coaching a pretty special talent in the near future.

“In eighth-grade he had this game in a Thanksgiving tournament where he scored 51 or 52 points,” said Sovern of his future star. “He’s doing that and also nearly dunking in the lay-up line, so it was pretty easy to see.”

Schutt honed his craft at a young age in those camps in the Cross Lutheran gym and in the basketball court in the back yard. When Jeff and his wife, Lori, moved into their current home years ago, they had plenty of yard space out back to put in an outdoor sport court.

“We dug a trench, wired it with lights and it was far enough away that our boys could play down there without bothering the neighbors,” said Jeff of the space his four boys would play.

Jaden, the youngest of the four Schutt boys, was just a baby. But he quickly established his own little workout program.

“Jaden is a student of the game,” said Jeff. “He will visualize it and go do it. He would watch a lot of video as a kid. He would run down to that court three, four times a day for 20-minute sessions at a time. Run back up and do it again. Then at night he would go to the Cross Lutheran gym and play.”

Now he’s awaiting a bigger stage. Sidelined for the most part for nearly 15 months due to the Covid shutdown, the sweet-shooting senior is set to be seen this summer by college coaches and national evaluators for the first time in a long time.

“I always feel like I have things to prove, said Schutt. “I definitely feel like not being ranked as high as I think I should be is motivation.”

Both 247Sports and Rivals have Schutt as a three-star prospect –– unranked in Rivals’ top 150 and ranked No. 114 by 247Sports.

Every high school player these days pays attention. It’s inevitable with the many websites that cover prep hoops, Twitter and social media. Schutt admits it’s “one of those things that you look at.” But he has refreshingly kept it in perspective.

“When it comes to the games, none of that really matters,” he wisely points out. “Those stars you have or don’t have aren’t going to help you when you’re playing. But you just have to go out and play the game. It’s one of those things that you look at when you’re not playing and stuff, but you have to understand your own talent level, be honest with yourself, know what you need to work on.”

But not being a top 100 prospect in the country hasn’t slowed down his recruitment. He’s picked up a dozen or so high-major offers, including the majority of the Big Ten, along with Louisville, Oklahoma, Marquette, Creighton and others over the past couple of years.

He took visits to Illinois and Michigan State earlier this month and is off to visit Iowa this week. He plans to try and get to a few more if time allows this summer and add more in-person visits this fall.

“It’s like piecing together a puzzle in trying to set up the visits while playing this summer,” he said. “It’s definitely hectic. But that’s something I will figure out along the way.

“I am just trying to talk to these coaches and figure out what their plan is for me, trying to get to the truth and stuff. Figure out the relationships with the coaches and see which ones are the strongest relationships.”

While Schutt irons out the recruiting piece and builds relationships to help him decide his future, head coaches and their staffs will finally get a get a chance to see the state’s top shooter in action this summer.

“I am just excited to get out and play in front of those coaches,” said Schutt.

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