Dunphy and $48 million renovations attracting top recruits to Temple

Chester 10th grader Rondae Jefferson is one of several top players who are considering playing at Temple.
Chester 10th grader Rondae Jefferson is one of several top players who are considering playing at Temple. (RON TARVER / Staff Photographer)
Posted: May 26, 2011

A star recruit flies to Philadelphia on an official visit to St. Joseph's University.

Once he meets a Hawks assistant coach at Philadelphia International Airport, the 6-foot-8 power forward reveals that he likes Temple.

With that, the assistant coach gives him a tour of Temple's North Philadelphia campus. The Hampton, Va., native becomes frightened by what he sees and commits to the Hawks.

That was 34 years ago, and the player was Marcellus "Boo" Williams Jr., who was later inducted into the St. Joe's and Big Five Halls of Fame.

"When I saw Temple in North Philly, I said, 'I don't think this is for me,' " Williams recalled. "That's a true story. . . . I'm telling you, now. I've never seen anything like that before.

"Now I'm used to it. But then you are talking about a 17-year-old guy from the South and saw North Philly, I was like, 'Hold on.' "

While Temple wasn't for Williams, the Owls have thrived in what some call a less-than-desirable neighborhood. Temple's 1,766 victories rank sixth all-time among NCAA Division I programs, trailing only national powers Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Duke, and Syracuse.

A portion of those victories were compiled under Hall of Fame coaches Harry Litwack and John Chaney. But fair or not, opposing coaches have often used Temple's location as a negative recruiting tool.

That type of talk is starting to go away.

Temple's four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances under coach Fran Dunphy and renovations to the Pearson/McGonigle Hall Complex make the Owls a more appealing choice for recruits.

The $48 million renovations, which will include state-of-the-art practice facilities and basketball offices, are scheduled to be done in by next season.

"You take Florida, Florida State, Syracuse. If you go to those facilities, they will blow you away," said Lamont Peterson, an adviser to some of region's elite high school and college basketball players.

"It's a tool used for recruitment," Peterson said. "To be proficient in this era, you have to have top-notch practice facilities. So, of course, that is going to help Temple."

Dunphy's likability and brutal honesty are other things that appeal to recruits. That combination is why some believe the Owls have legitimate shots of getting commitments from Constitution junior point guard Daiquan Walker, Chester sophomore guard Rondae Jefferson, and Math, Civics & Sciences sophomore swingman Jeremiah "Lump" Worthem down the road.

"I like Fran," said Jefferson, whose brother, Rahlir Jefferson, is a sophomore forward at Temple. "He's a real cool coach. He's a nice guy. But at the same time, he'll be hard on you, too."

The slender, 6-5 Jefferson isn't alone when it comes to praising Dunphy.

"I mean, look at what Temple's done with Scootie" Randall, said Constitution coach Rob Moore. "Look what they've done with Ramone [Moore]. I just think that Fran is the best coach in the area, hands down. In regards to an Xs and Os coach, I just think he's the best."

Nova's elite class. Villanova 2012 recruiting class is ranked second in the nation behind Indiana, according to ESPN.com.

The Wildcats' three high school junior commitments are four-star recruits: Westtown School center Daniel Ochefu, Neshaminy point guard Ryan Arcidiacono, and Academy of the New Church forward Savon Goodman.


Contact staff writer Keith Pompey at 215-854-2939, kpompey@phillynews.com or @pompeysgridlock on Twitter.

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