Matt Shaw will not be making the trek across the country this fall to play for the Owls.
Shaw, a 6-8, 245-pound power forward from Los Angeles, opted out of his Letter of Intent to Temple late last month, and since has given Nevada-Las Vegas a strong verbal commitment to play there.
The switch allows Shaw, who reopened his recruitment following John Chaney’s retirement in March, to stay much closer to his California home.
NCAA guidelines permit recruits to renege their commitments for any number of reasons. The strongest such argument for the player is the retirement of the coach that signed the recruit. After Chaney left Temple, Shaw was free to re-open his options.
He just needed Temple Athletic Director Bill Bradshaw to grant him a release from his Letter of Intent. Bradshaw obliged.
Men’s basketball coach Fran Dunphy said Shaw did not give a specific reason for choosing UNLV.
“He just said ‘This would be the best fit for me,'” Dunphy said. “I think that the location had something to do with it.”
While Shaw, a three-star recruit, has given his word that he’ll attend and play for UNLV, his college choice will remain unconfirmed, as recruits can sign just one Letter of Intent in their college careers. Therefore Shaw’s commitment to UNLV is only as good as his word.
Shaw’s coach at Fairfax High in Los Angeles provided insight into why the forward is headed to UNLV.
Harvey Kitani conceded that location played a part in Shaw’s latest college decision, but not all of it. When Chaney and his staff left Temple, so did Shaw’s connections with the program, Kitani said.
“The people that recruited him were no longer there,” Kitani said over the phone last week. “It made it hard for him. It was like starting all over again.”
Dunphy not only had to build a relationship with Shaw, but he had to do so with less time than traditional recruiting. Temple’s search for Chaney’s replacement exceeded one month, allowing other schools to recruit Shaw while Temple searched for a new coach.
Kitani said Dunphy did what he could to keep Shaw committed to Temple, even flying to Los Angeles to meet with the player. Shaw’s decision to leave Temple had nothing to do with disapproval of Dunphy as coach, Kitani added.
Dunphy said he was given “a very good chance” to re-recruit Shaw.
“He knew exactly what he was getting at Temple,” Dunphy said.
Ultimately, Kitani said, Temple was asking too much of Shaw, who would have had to move across the country to play for a staff that he had known for only a short time.
Shaw feels comfortable with the UNLV program, which had recruited him prior to his commitment to Temple, Kitani said.
“We had met the coaches before,” Kitani said, “so there was a sense of [familiarity]. He thinks it will be a good fit for him.”
Though Dunphy could not retain Shaw, fellow recruit Luis Guzman will suit up for the Owls next season. And another recruit, Mike Scott, remains committed to Temple, but may not be ready by the start of the season.
Guzman, a three-star point guard from Paramus, N.J., scored more than 1,000 points in his career at Paramus Catholic. With the graduation of all-American Mardy Collins, the point guard position is wide open. Dunphy said he would use Guzman, at 6-2, 185 pounds, in a role that the player feels most comfortable with.
“We’ll see how his decision making is,” Dunphy said of having Guzman at the point. “I just want to make sure he’s very comfortable in his role.”
The likelihood that Scott, a 6-7, 200-pound forward from Deep Creek High in Chesapeake, Va., will play for the Owls in 2007 remains unclear.
“Mike is working through some issues,” Dunphy said.
The first-year coach declined to name those issues, but the Philadelphia Daily News reported earlier this month that Scott might attend a prep school to improve his academic scores. If Scott can play this season, Dunphy said the forward likely would bring a lot of talent to the frontcourt.
“Mike is a very good athlete and there’s not a lot in terms of basketball skill level that he isn’t able to do,” Dunphy said.
John Kopp can reached at email@example.com.