Temple basketball undergoing a transfiguration

ANDREW THAYER / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Philly-area natives (from left) Devin Coleman (Friends Central), Jaylen Bond (Plymouth Whitemarsh) and Jesse Morgan (Olney) have transferred to Temple.
ANDREW THAYER / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Philly-area natives (from left) Devin Coleman (Friends Central), Jaylen Bond (Plymouth Whitemarsh) and Jesse Morgan (Olney) have transferred to Temple.
Posted: August 13, 2014

JAYLEN BOND (Plymouth Whitemarsh) and Devin Coleman (Friends Central) gave Temple serious consideration before choosing Texas and Clemson, respectively. Jesse Morgan (Olney) did not really look at the Owls before heading off to Massachusetts.

The three Philly guys are all regulars in the Temple practice gym this summer, getting ready to be part of the solution to a very un-Temple-like 9-22. They came home for various reasons, but come home they did and, if the Owls are to get back where the Owls have traditionally been, the three transfers will be critical parts of that.

"It was hard to turn down Texas," said the 6-7 and very physical Bond. "It's such a great program. It was tough to turn down at that time."

Bond averaged 3.4 points and 4.5 rebounds as a freshman in 15 minutes per game. Then, he got a foot injury early in his sophomore season. His numbers and playing time went down.

So, what went wrong?

"Basically, it was just a lot of stuff I didn't do," Bond said. "I blame myself. I didn't work hard enough."

He has been working since he decided to come home. Watching his team lose 10 games by six points or less and play defense as if it really did not matter much, was not easy.

"It was tough sitting out not being able to help my team," Bond said. "We'll do better this year."

Given the 22 losses, expectations will be way down, which might not be a bad thing.

"We don't want anybody to expect anything from us," Bond said. "We're going to prove everybody wrong. We're going to have a good team . . . I pride myself on defense. I want to stop the best player on the court."

Lavoy Allen, Temple coach Fran Dunphy has said, is the best defensive player he has ever coached. The Owls' defensive numbers were sensational during Allen's four seasons, peaking at No. 6 in defensive efficiency during Allen's junior season and then No. 27 in his senior season. Last season, Temple fell all the way to No. 257.

Bond is a big reason why the coach expects the defense to get back to its roots.

"I almost want him thinking like Kawhi Leonard," Dunphy said after a recent 1-hour practice. "Kawhi can guard anybody on the court and then he's developed into a really good offensive player. I want Jaylen to be thinking about that."

Dunphy has told Bond: "You have a chance to be an NBA player, but it has to start on that defensive end where you are so versatile that it's scary. You can guard a point guard, a four-man and everybody in between. And there'll probably be some five-man minutes you are going to pick up defensively."

Bond has two full seasons of eligibility remaining.

"He had 11 offensive rebounds attempted today," Dunphy said after the practice. "He had eight gets and four of those gets were stickbacks . . . That's where he can really destroy teams' mindsets with that extra possession."

The 6-5 Morgan has had an unusual college career. He did not start playing at UMass until the second semester of his freshman year (2010-11) and played only 12 games. He played 37 games the next season as UMass made it all the way to the Final Four of the NIT. He scored 35 points against Ohio University as a junior and was averaging 13.4 points before tearing his ACL in the 14th game. So, even though he is a fifth-year senior, he has played only 63 games.

At this moment, Morgan, who just graduated, is eligible to play only until the second semester begins because his 5-year-clock will have stopped at that point. Temple is petitioning to get him an entire season.

"It's a good feeling to be back home, be around your friends and have support," Morgan said.

It will be 22 months between games when Morgan suits up for Temple's opener.

"It's been tough," he said. "It makes you love the game and cherish the game. It's going to be lot of nerves the first game."

However long he gets to play, Morgan, an explosive two-way guard, will help. And Temple helped Morgan by taking him when his playing status was unclear.

"One of the great things about Temple to me is they helped kids like Jesse in the past, wrapped their arms around him and not left him to his own devices," Dunphy said. "Here, we now have a kid who has done just about everything he can possibly do while he's been here. He's been a great teammate. He's done a very good job in the classroom."

And he can play.

"He's got almost unlimited range," Dunphy said. "He thinks he can make everything, which is a wonderful attribute."

And he can defend.

"As I read out the stats at the end of the day, I'll read out deflections, and he's typically the leader," Dunphy said.

Temple offered the 6-2 Coleman as a sophomore in high school. He looked long and hard, but eventually chose Clemson. He averaged 2.6 points as a freshman, took a medical redshirt after an Achilles' tear as a sophomore and was averaging 5.4 through 10 games last season when he decided to transfer. He will be eligible after the first semester ends.

"I didn't feel things were working out as well for me as they could have [at Clemson]," Coleman said. "Temple was the first place on my list that I wanted to be."

Coleman missed an entire year of games with the injury. Now, he will be missing another entire year with the transfer.

"I just want to go out there and make winning plays," he said.

Given that he offered him so early in his high school career, it is obvious Dunphy always liked Coleman's game.

"He can make shots," Dunphy said. "He can make plays. He's a pretty good defender. He comes from a very good defensive philosophy at Clemson."

Dunphy was not surprised his team took a step back last season. After all, the Owls lost five key seniors. He just did not expect a giant leap back. Depth was a huge problem last season. It will not be as much of an issue this season, with the transfers, the return of injured Daniel Dingle and the emergence of prized big man recruit Obi Enechionyia.

Yes, Temple lost leading scorer Dalton Pepper and third-leading scorer Anthony Lee (transferred to Ohio State). But Will Cummings and Quenton DeCosey are proven scorers. And the defense should be way better.

"We feel good about where we are right now," Dunphy said.

It will be a typically brutal Temple schedule, with Duke and Kansas. In their first season in the American, the Owls caught the defending national champion (Louisville) and the eventual national champion (Connecticut). Louisville is gone to the ACC and UConn lost key pieces, including Final Four Most Outstanding Player Shabazz Napier.

"When they ask, 'Who makes your schedule?' I always say the same thing: John Chaney makes our schedule because that's what he did for years and that's what the expectations are," Dunphy said.

The Owls simply lost too many good players after their sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament in 2013. It was not a surprise they were not a postseason team in 2014. The record was a surprise. This season could very well be a surprise in the other direction.

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