Posted On: 08/27/18 5:00 AM
Villa Angela-St. Joseph 6’2” guard Jonah Waag (2021) is a high-character kid carrying two Division I offers into his sophomore season, but not a ton of on-court varsity experience. While waiting his turn at Joe’s — and reasonably so, considering he is just a sophomore at one of the most successful non-Division I high school programs in Ohio — the talented Waag is showing maturity.
“I believe that I may have the opportunity to start [this season],” Waag said. “I’m going to be the lock-down defender. So whoever is the other team’s best player, I’m going to be guarding.”
The most convenient way of proving your value is usually taking shots and hoping they go in. And Waag says he envisions himself as a capable primary playmaker. But last year’s lack of playing time provided perspective and, now, he’s buying in to whatever role he’s given.
“It was [frustrating]. But then I started to fit into my role and I saw how we had better players than me at the time,” he said. “I just had to develop, get better, and get more confident.”
Guys like Waag — both talented and coachable — are needed to win ball games, which is exactly where VASJ’s collective mind is at right now.
“Our season goal is to beat St. Ed’s and win a State Championship,” Waag declared. “[It comes from] the players because our culture is to win every game and to win a State Championship. But since we haven’t beat Ed’s in a couple years, we want to beat Ed’s. Last year we were close with Ed’s until the fourth quarter, and then we totally blew it.”
VASJ brings back four starters from last year’s 18-9 team. Significant departures include legendary point guard Jerry “Gene” Higgins (freshman at The Citadel), Anthony Dinunzio, Delanoe Harris, and transfer Enavell Lighty (Shaker Heights). Whether he starts or not, Waag will play more and fans are getting a mentally strong competitor when he’s out there.
“One of my best strengths is not giving up, no matter what,” Waag said. “If I’m having a terrible game, I’m not just going to quit and let the other team beat me. I’m going to try my best at all times.
“I have the mentality that, every time the person I’m guarding scores, it makes me just feel terrible that I let the team down. I love defense,” Waag said.
As we alluded to, the 3.0 GPA student pulled in offers from Winthrop and Youngstown State during team workouts last fall. Two D-I offers is impressive to most, but it’s not really moving the needle for Waag.
“It’s an offer, but it doesn’t really matter. I’m not too concerned about it because I want to work better, so I can get better,” Waag said. “It’ll make me feel better when I’m a senior if I have a bunch of offers, [rather] than two offers when I’m a sophomore.”
Waag hasn’t maintained any contact with Winthrop. However, Youngstown State and Cleveland State remain in the picture.
“Youngstown State, I see a lot because their coach is really good friends with our coach and his son goes to our school,” Waag said, in reference to his teammate Jordan Calhoun.
Waag was also invited to Cleveland State’s elite camp this summer. He was unable to attend because of a baseball team commitment, a sport he has no interest in playing at the next level despite excelling. CSU, Waag says, plans on attending practices and games next year to keep an eye on the sophomore.