After winning week, Owls receive Top 25 votes

The men’s basketball team received 33 points in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll, which was released Monday.

Monday’s poll marked the first time Temple garnered Top-25 consideration since the week of March 11 during the 2012-13 season, when the Owls reached the second round of the NCAA tournament in their last season before jumping to the American Athletic Conference from the Atlantic 10.

Conference victories in the last week against Connecticut (7-5, 0-1 The American) on Wednesday and Central Florida (7-6, 0-2 The American) Sunday ran the team’s current win streak to five games. During the streak, which included a 77-52 win against No. 10 Kansas on Dec. 22, the Owls (11-4, 2-0 The American) have benefited from an improved 3-point shooting effort.

Since gaining eligibility to play on Dec. 18, transfers Jesse Morgan (14 points per game) and Devin Coleman (5.0 ppg.) have added depth to a squad that needed it, while another transfer in Jaylen Bond has averaged eight ppg and 7.9 rebounds per game. Bond had a career night against the Knights on Sunday, when his 21 points and 14 boards helped Temple to an 84-78 victory.

The Owls will face Tulane University (11-3) and the University of Tulsa (9-5) this week, The American’s two teams along with Temple that have started conference play with a pair of wins. Temple’s road contest against Tulane will tip off Wednesday at 7 p.m., while the Owls will host Tulsa at the Liacouras Center Saturday at 3 p.m.

Morgan to sit early, play spring semester

Senior guard Jesse Morgan has decided to play out his final semester of eligibility in the spring, according to a CBS Sports report Wednesday.

Morgan will miss the Owls’ first 10 games of the 2014-15 season, and will become eligible to play starting on Dec. 18 for Temple’s non-conference matchup at the University of Delaware.

Temple had petitioned for Morgan to receive a full year of eligibility for the 2014-15 season, but the NCAA elected to maintain Morgan’s eligibility for one semester. On the American Athletic Conference media day at the New York Athletic Club last Wednesday, coach Fran Dunphy said the ruling allowed Morgan to choose whether to play out his semester of eligibility in the fall or the spring.

Originally a University of Massachusetts commit, Morgan averaged 13.4 points per game as a junior during the 2012-13 campaign for the Minutemen, before a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament ended his season. He transferred to Temple that summer and petitioned for eligibility for the 2013-14 season, but was denied a waiver by the NCAA.

After he regains eligibility, Morgan will join an experienced Temple backcourt that features senior Will Cummings, junior Quenton DeCosey and junior transfer Devin Coleman, who will play his first season with the team after sitting out in 2013-14, per the NCAA’s transfer policy.

Men’s basketball voted to finish sixth

The men’s basketball team was picked to finish sixth out of 11 American Athletic Conference teams this season.

The poll results were announced at the conference media day at the New York Athletic Club Wednesday. Defending national champion Connecticut edged the top spot in the poll, while Southern Methodist were picked by The American’s coaches to finish second in the conference.

Memphis, led by All-Conference first-team selections Shaq Goodwin and Austin Nichols, were picked to finish third in the conference, while Cincinnati, Tulsa, Temple, Houston, South Florida, Central Florida East Carolina and Tulane rounded out the remainder of the poll.

The Owls’ backcourt duo of senior Will Cummings and junior Quenton DeCosey were selected as second team all-conference in a coaches vote. Cummings ranked sixth in the conference with 16.8 points per game in 29 contests last season, while DeCosey posted an eighth-best 15.4 ppg. in 31 games.

UConn senior guard Ryan Boatright was tabbed as The American’s preseason Player of the Year, while Huskies freshman Daniel Hamilton was voted preseason Rookie of the Year.

The Owls will kick off their season against American University at the Liacouras Center on Nov. 14. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.

2014-15 Preseason Coaches’ Poll
Rank, Team (First-Place Votes)
1. UConn (6)
2. SMU (5)
3. Memphis
4. Cincinnati
5. Tulsa
6. Temple
7. Houston
8. USF
9. UCF
10. East Carolina
11. Tulane

Aflakpui joins crop of verbal commits

Less than two weeks after men’s basketball coach Fran Dunphy secured the word of four-star Haverford School recruit Levan Alston, Archbishop Carroll High School’s Ernest Aflakpui verbally committed to Temple on Sunday.

Aflakpui, a 6-foot-9-inch power forward out of Radnor, joins Dunphy’s current 2015 recruiting class that already included Alston and Ewing High School (New Jersey) shooting guard Trey Lowe.

Aflakpui is rated as a four-star recruit on, while has him as a three-star prospect.

Dunphy’s batch of three recruits matches his total number from Temple’s 2010, 2012 and 2013 recruiting classes. He pulled in one four-star recruit for the 2014 class in 6-foot-8 power forward Obi Enechionyia.


Alston marks Owls’ second verbal commitment of 2015 class

Temple picked up a second four-start recruit via verbal commit Tuesday morning.

Donning one of his father’s old Owls jerseys, local product Levan Alston announced his verbal commitment to the university in a press conference, marking coach Fran Dunphy’s second such commitment for the 2015 recruiting class.

The 6-foot-4 Haverford School product garnered All-State honors after posting 16.5 points per game as a junior last season. He’ll join fellow shooting guard and AAU teammate Trey Lowe (Ewing, New Jersey) at Temple in Fall 2015, as Lowe verbally committed to the Owls as a four-star shooting guard in August.

In committing to Temple, Alston will be joining the alma mater of his father, Levan, who played for the Owls under former coach John Chaney in the mid-1990s.

Update: Brunson picks ‘Nova

Jalen Brunson didn’t need words.

The five-star point guard merely had to unzip his sweatshirt, revealing a white T-shirt with “Villanova Basketball” emblazoned on the front, to announce his college decision.

Brunson will be headed to Villanova, a Big 5 rival of Temple’s, announcing his verbal commitment to the school Wednesday evening. Brunson’s choice, announced in front of a myriad of cameras and reporters, was delivered a day after it was reported and confirmed by his father, Rick Brunson, that Jalen was deciding between Villanova and Illinois Wednesday.

The Stevenson High School senior out of Lincolnshire, Illinois was heavily recruited by Temple before, per Tuesday’s reports, it was clear that the school had dropped out of the running for the 6-foot-1-inch, 180-pound point guard.

Rick Brunson played for Temple from 1991-95 and built a notable pedigree under former coach John Chaney for the Owls during his four-year career with the team. He played nine NBA seasons before retiring in 2006.

Brunson was reportedly set to join Temple as an assistant in June, before reports of his arrest and charge for attempted sexual assault emerged a week later, effectively ending any further notion of his potentially joining the Owls’ staff. The open coaching spot was filled with Aaron McKie’s hiring last month.

Temple has one verbal commit in its 2015 recruiting class thus far in four-star, 6-foot-5-inch shooting guard Trey Lowe out of Ewing High School in New Jersey.

Rick Brunson charged with attempted sexual assault, other charges

Former Temple men’s basketball standout Rick Brunson was arrested for attempted criminal sexual assault in a Life Fitness on June 25 in Vernon Hills, Ill., a Chicago suburb nestled approximately 40 minutes northwest of the city.

Per a Vernon Hills police report, Brunson grabbed a female employee of the fitness center and was subsequently charged with attempted criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual abuse and three counts of aggravated battery. According to the report, Brunson was held on $5,000 bail.

Ironically, the arrest was dated on the same day as a report that Brunson was a leading candidate for an assistant coaching position with Temple for the 2014-15 season. According to that report, Brunson was set to be introduced for the position at some point in July.

Brunson played under former Owls coach John Chaney from 1991-95, and has since worked in some capacity with three NBA clubs after his retirement from the NBA in 2006.

His son, Jalen Brunson, is a senior at Stephenson High School and is a notable Temple target. ESPN lists the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder as its No. 1 rated point guard in the country for the class of 2015.

Former Owls star Rick Brunson to join staff as assistant

The men’s basketball team will bring back former Owls standout Rick Brunson as an assistant coach, per a report Wednesday.

Brunson starred with the Owls under former coach John Chaney in the 1990s and later played professionally for nine different NBA clubs in a nine-year span. He has coached as an assistant on both the college and NBA level, most recently with the Charlotte Bobcats for the 2012-13 season.

As per formal procedure, the job opening was posted on both the NCAA’s career website and Temple’s Human Resources site Tuesday, and should be officially filled within the next month.

NCAA rules limit teams to a maximum of three assistant coaches. As Brunson is set to take an on-bench assistant coaching position, one of the three current assistants will be reassigned.

Brunson expressed interest in the Owls’ head coaching job in the wake of Chaney’s retirement in 2006, fresh off his NBA career.

Brunson’s son, Jalen Brunson, will be a senior at Stevenson High this fall as the nation’s No. 1 point guard in the class of 2015. The 6-foot-1, lefty point man is rated as a five-star recruit by ESPN, and is a top Temple target while also considering Villanova, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue.

He was part of a Team USA squad that swiped the Gold Medal at the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Americas Under-18 tournament on Tuesday night, averaging 12 points and 5.6 assists in five games.

American releases conference pairings

The American Athletic Conference announced its conference pairings today, determining the Owls’ conference slate for the upcoming 2014-15 season.

The announcement also introduced new members East Carolina University, Tulane University and the University of Tulsa. Despite the added teams, The American will maintain its 18-game conference schedule, concluding that instead of expanding the schedule, each team will instead face eight of its 10 conference foes twice and the remaining two teams once.

This decision led to the determination that Temple will face Houston and Memphis once and the remaining eight twice, as they did last year.  The Owls will host Houston and play in Memphis.

The Owls lost leading scorer Dalton Pepper to graduation as well as leading rebounder and defensive anchor Anthony Lee to Ohio State. Temple will instead look to other options, such as a bona fide starter in junior guard Will Cummings and a proven sixth man in junior guard Quenton DeCosey to help improve their 4-14 conference record last year.

Cummings, a junior who averaged 34.4 minutes per game, will be the team’s leading returning scorer, averaging 16.8 points per game on 45 percent shooting.

The conference championship tournament will be held May 12 through May 15 at The XL Central in Hartford, CT.

American commissioner Mike Aresco said the decision to hold the tournament on a weekend would help with traveling fans and ESPN coverage, which could potentially improve TV ratings and generate more revenue for the conference.

-EJ Smith

Lee to transfer for final year of eligibility

Redshirt-junior forward Anthony Lee has decided to transfer from Temple.

The news was first reported by Keith Pompey of The Inquirer. Lee reportedly told coach Fran Dunphy of his decision yesterday. Lee has acknowledged his decision to depart on Twitter.

Lee is due to graduate in May with a degree in communications. He can transfer to any university and be eligible to play immediately since he will have already earned his undergraduate degree. He cannot enroll in a graduate program that is also offered at Temple.

He averaged 13.6 points on 49.5 percent shooting and 8.6 rebounds per game in 2013-14. He led the American Athletic Conference in rebounds per game and was tenth in the conference in field goal percentage.