The UCLA basketball team got some great news when Tony Parker decided to return to Westwood earlier this week, but the Bruins could be in for an even bigger headline on Thursday.
Elite point guard prospect Rysheed Jordan is expected to announce his commitment tomorrow, and UCLA is on the short list. The 4/5-star scorer from Philadelphia (Vaux Roberts) also lists the hometown Temple Owls and St. John’s among his finalists. Both of those programs should be considered major players for Jordan’s pledge, as one wins the proximity battle and the other is manned by an amazing recruiter in Red Storm coach Steve Lavin.
In fact, some sources indicate that Jordan is leaning towards the Johnnies, which shouldn’t come as a surprise for anyone who knows Coach Lavin. During his tenure as top dog at UCLA from 1996-2003, Lavin landed the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class twice, and coached eventual NBA players like Baron Davis, Trevor Ariza, Matt Barnes and Ryan Hollins. So if Jordan is looking for a coach with a proven ability to get guys to the league, Lavin appears to have the edge.
It’s also important to note the location of St. John’s, which is one of the few schools in the country that can rival UCLA’s destination factor. In addition to hooping under the bright lights at Madison Square Garden, SJU’s NYC campus is only two hours away from Philly. Picking the Red Storm would allow Jordan to get away from home for college, while still maintaining close enough ties with his family. For that reason, I think Lavin will ultimately lure the 6’4, 185-pound baller to the Big Apple.
But as I’m sure you’re all aware, I am no expert. Recruiting is a crazy game these days, and it’s best to expect the unexpected at all times. Jordan and his closest of kin are the only ones that really know what’s going on, so don’t count out the Owls or Bruins just yet.
One thing’s for sure though—whoever wins the battle for Jordan’s services is getting a top-flight talent.
Pegged the No. 5 PG in the 2013 class, Jordan has the innate ability to get in the lane and create, both for himself and others. He loves to get out and run, and is really at his best in transition. Given the grind-it-out offensive style of former UCLA head coach Ben Howland, many didn’t think Jordan to the Bruins was possible.
However, now that Steve Alford and his “up-tempo and team-oriented brand of basketball” is set to take over Pauley Pavilion, speculation has run rampant about Jordan coming to Westwood. The problem is, Alford’s style over the last 20 some years of coaching hasn’t been so explosive after all.
Contrary to what athletic director Dan Guerrero claimed in his many official statements and press releases, Alford has not been known as a free-minded offensive coach. Much like Howland, teams under Alford’s command have been intense defensively, relying on half-court offense to slow the game down. Based on what Jordan showed in high school, that’s not the style he excels at. And though Alford could probably mold him into a great player at UCLA, most recruits today aren’t looking to change their games too much in college.
Call me a pessimist, but I don’t see Jordan choosing the Bruins tomorrow. Both of his other options are far closer to home, and the usual draw of L.A. isn’t as relevant with New York and Philadelphia on the docket as well. I’ll be the first to cheer if I’m wrong, but it just doesn’t seem likely at this point. With basketball’s signing deadline approaching next week, UCLA’s class may be all sewn up.