Temple, Villanova on Jalen Brunson's list

Posted: June 21, 2014

Rick Brunson promised his son that their family would no longer move once Jalen Brunson reached high school.

The Brunsons had relocated seven times, finally settling in suburban Chicago in 2010, when Rick Brunson, the former Temple guard, was hired as an assistant for the Bulls.

Jalen Brunson started a year later at Stevenson High, about 30 miles north of Chicago.

The 6-foot-2 lefthander blossomed into the nation's top point guard, according to ESPN, and plans to make his college decision before November's early signing period.

Brunson's next residence could be back home. He lived in South Jersey until the sixth grade. Temple and Villanova are in the hunt to land him.

His parents met at Temple, where his mother, Sandra, played volleyball. Rick Brunson said he fell in love with Philadelphia during his time on North Broad Street. He settled his family in Cherry Hill during his decadelong professional career.

Last month, Jalen Brunson listed his final eight schools. Temple and Villanova are up against Connecticut, Purdue, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, and Michigan State.

His father said they will visit campuses in September and October.

Jeff Borzello of CBS Sports and Jerry Meyer of 247 Sports predicted within the last month that Brunson will come to Temple. If the recruiting experts are right, Brunson will be Temple's highest-rated recruit since 1998, when the Owls landed McDonald's All-American Kevin Lyde.

"He's familiar with the Philadelphia area," Rick Brunson said of his son. "It's a process that he's going through, and I'm here to go through it with him."

ESPN lists Brunson as the top point guard and the No. 22 overall recruit in the Class of 2015. Brunson will play this weekend with Team USA in the FIBA Americas Under-18 Championship in Colorado Springs, Colo. His father is flying out to watch him play.

"As a father, you get kind of choked up watching your son," Rick Brunson said. "I remember when he was a little kid and he just wanted to be a basketball player."

Temple also is targeting Haverford School guard Shawn Alston. Rick Brunson played with Alston's father, Levan, at Temple. Their sons will attend the invitation-only LeBron James Skills Academy in July in Las Vegas.

Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, two of the projected top three picks in next week's NBA draft, are among the alumni of the camp, which invites the nation's premier high school players.

"It's kind of funny because Levan's son and my son are both better than their fathers right now," Rick Brunson said.

Jalen Brunson averaged 26.1 points last season and was the Gatorade boys' basketball player of the year in Illinois. He was the only junior to make the Associated Press all-state first team.

Brunson plays AAU basketball for Mac Irvin Fire, the same program that produced Parker, who played high school ball at Chicago's Simeon Career Academy. Brunson is leading the EYBL, a nationwide league of Nike-sponsored teams, with 6.9 assists per game.

"Jalen loves the game, and I've always tried to make sure he understood what it takes to be a good player and how hard you have to work," Rick Brunson said. "He took the talent, and he ran with it. He's a tremendous worker."

mbreen@phillynews.com

@matt_breen

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