AT ONE POINT, it looked as if Jalen Brunson was destined to go to Temple.
His father Rick played for John Chaney some 2 decades ago. His mother Sandra played volleyball on North Broad Street. The family lived in South Jersey when he was growing up.
As it turns out, the player Scout.com rates as the top point guard in the recruiting class of 2015 is coming to Philadelphia. But he'll be playing for a different Big 5 program from his dad's.
Wednesday at Stevenson (Ill.) High, Brunson announced he will bring his talents to Villanova. The other finalist was Illinois, where his girlfriend is a freshman.
"It was a very hard decision," he said, before taking off his jacket to reveal a Villanova basketball T-shirt. "I was in and out on what I would do. The past 2 days, I've really been thinking about it, and I know this is where I want to be."
This summer, according to sources, Temple was about to offer Rick Brunson a job on coach Fran Dunphy's staff. Those same people said that if that happened, Jalen would come with him. Then, on July 25, Rick was arrested in suburban Chicago on charges of attempted criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual abuse, aggravated battery and domestic battery for his role in an April incident with a female masseuse at a fitness center. His court date is set for late next month.
Dunphy recently brought in former Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Aaron McKie, Rick's teammate for three seasons, to fill the opening.
Sources have said the Brunsons are considering a move back to this area because they liked it here.
Jalen visited Villanova last weekend, after previously visiting Illinois. He was supposed to vist Temple this weekend, but canceled. He also canceled scheduled trips to Michigan State and Purdue.
Jalen acknowledged in a telephone interview it was hard to make a decision.
“But once I had the support of my family, I really felt comfortable making it,” he said. “I think I’ll fit right in. They already have a lot of good guards, and I just want to help them win. That’s the way their system is geared. I think we can be pretty good. I’m obviously looking forward to it. They really did a good job of [recruiting me], making me feel like I belonged. I think everything just worked out for the best.”
Brunson is the highest-rated prospect to choose Villanova since 2009, when Wright landed five-star recruits Dominic Cheek and Mouphtaou Yarou and four-star Maalik Wayns (Roman Catholic). Cheek and Wayns, both McDonald All-Americans, left after three seasons to turn pro early. The Wildcats went 13-19 in their final season.
"It's a great day to be a Villanova Wildcat," coach Jay Wright tweeted.
Brunson is his third oral commitment for 2015, joining South Jersey power forward Tim Delaney (Pitman) and Delaware shooting guard Donte DiVincenzo (Salesianum). This season, he'll have four starters back from a team that finished 29-5.
On Twitter: @mikekerndn