Tuesday, March 26, 2013
UCLA still in the mix for ESPN 100 PG?
By Dave Telep
It’s March 26 and UCLA does not have a head coach. On April 15, ESPN 100 point guard Rysheed Jordan (Philadelphia/Vaux Roberts), the No. 22 overall prospect in the Class of 2013, will pick from St. John’s, Temple and UCLA.
UCLA? But the Bruins don’t have a head coach, right?
“He’s keeping UCLA on his list,” said Jordan’s AAU coach and confidant, Kamal Yard. “It wasn’t so much Ben Howland (that attracted him to UCLA) as it was the tradition and culture at UCLA. He thinks they’re going to hire a big-time head coach.”
Rysheed Jordan is the top point guard left on the board and will decide between Temple, St. John's and UCLA.
Yard may be right. The Bruins are likely to lock in on and land a big fish in their coaching search. Still, it’s an awfully tight turnaround for a new coach to land a coveted recruit. The reason why UCLA is hanging around is twofold. First, Jordan loves the place. “He went there and he’s an inner-city Philadelphia kid,” Yard said. “He went to LA and his eyes lit up.”
UCLA assistant Korey McCray is the other reason. Jordan's relationship with McCray had UCLA in the mix even before Jordan fell for the city. It remains to be seen whether McCray will be kept on staff in Westwood, but he is connected to Jordan and current UCLA freshmen Jordan Adams and Tony Parker.
Jordan has made no bones about his intent to one day use basketball to provide for a large family in Philadelphia. The summer games that take place on UCLA’s campus were a big hook. He liked the idea of being around the pros, according to Yard.
While UCLA remains in the chase, the fact is that no one outside of McCray from the Bruins has been in touch with Jordan and their coaching search is now reaching three days old. Experience around recruiting situations and a dose of common sense tells us this ends up being a long shot for the Bruins.
For one, UCLA is a geographical outlier with Temple and St. John's in the mix for the Philly native. In addition, Jordan has a firm decision date and one of the three programs on his list doesn’t have a leader. While it's interesting that UCLA is still under consideration, landing a big fish like Jordan isn't happening without a coach. Even if UCLA moves quickly to hire a new head man, it would be difficult to fathom besting the relationships of the other finalists.
Temple is the home school. St. John’s continues to push. At different times in the process, each has seemingly led -- as the Bruins also once did. Jordan’s decision comes down to three different schools with seemingly different recruiting pitches.
What does seem clear is that Jordan came to grips with leaving home some time ago. But can he resist Temple’s local lure or will he seek space from Philly and take the St. John’s option? And what if the Bruins move quickly and their new coach can make a strong pitch?
There seem like a lot of moving parts -- still. As of Tuesday, it would be difficult to say one program had a leg up on the others, but we’ll take UCLA and slot it third for the time being.