Temple hoops recruiting takes a step up

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Temple coach Fran Dunphy. (H. Rumph Jr./AP)

Temple missed out on a big basketball prospect but never stopped trying in the recruiting game.

The Owls backed off on hiring former player Rick Brunson because of his pending legal case, then lost his coveted son, point guard Jalen, to rival Villanova in September.

But first thing Tuesday morning, the Owls received the good news that Haverford School star Levan Alston, like Brunson the son of a former player, was committing to Temple.

A smooth, 6-foot-4 natural scorer who can play the point, Alston chose Temple over Penn State - which is doing better on the recruiting front these days - and Virginia Commonwealth and its charismatic young coach, Shaka Smart.

No matter how you look at it, this is a win for Temple. Alston is better than just a consolation prize for not landing Brunson. He's a legitimate top-100 player nationally, a star the Owls may have missed out on had the Brunson fiasco caused coach Fran Dunphy and his staff to lose focus on the rest of the field.

Trey Lowe, a 6-6 shooting guard whom Temple had been recruiting since he was a sophomore, committed to the Owls in August, choosing Temple over VCU, St. Joseph's and Southern Methodist.

It has been a good stretch for the Owls, who have two scholarships left for 2015, and it could be borderline great if they can get 6-9 Archbishop Carroll big man Ernest Aflakpui, regarded by many as one of the top five players in the state.

Teams in the hunt for Aflakpui's services include St. Joe's, VCU (seems like Smart is everywhere), Rhode Island and St. Louis, where he's expected to make an official visit to this weekend. No clear favorite has emerged.

Lowe and Alston won't need much time to build chemistry between them largely because of the two summers they spent together playing AAU ball. So this will no doubt speed up the process of getting them on the floor together as freshmen.

They have size, they have talent and they are as ready to play as any guards Temple has landed in recent memory. And they are going to get that opportunity in 2015-16 as soon as they arrive on campus. If Aflakpui arrives with them, 2015 could be viewed as a cornerstone recruiting year.

 


jmitchell@philly.com

@JmitchInquirer