Last winter, Devin Coleman was pursuing an exit from his original collegiate choice in perennial American Coastal Conference contender Clemson.
After missing all of 2012-13 for a torn achilles tendon, he played 10 games last season, starting in one, before deciding to transfer in January. Along his way out, Coleman, a redshirt junior, was in search of a new fit on the Division I level and sought the opinion of an old friend.
Temple coach Fran Dunphy had already locked up a pair of Philadelphia natives by transfer, junior Jaylen Bond and senior Jesse Morgan, both eligible for play during the 2014-15 season. After Coleman spoke with one of them in Bond, an old friend from their youth basketball days, Dunphy would soon secure a third.
“Me and Devin always had a good relationship since we were like nine,” Bond said. “We always felt like it would be good for us to come back home after he decided to leave from Clemson and I decided to transfer from [the University of] Texas.”
A positive word on Temple from Bond, Coleman said, helped simplify his second collegiate decision.
“When I left and it became time to make another decision, and I was looking at Temple, he was the person I asked,” Coleman said of Bond. “He knows me personally and how I play, so he was the person I asked if he thought it was a good fit [for me]. I got nothing but positive feedback from him, so it made my decision a lot easier.”
Bond transferred to Temple in May 2013 and will be eligible for Friday’s season opener against American University at the Liacouras Center. Though he’s nursing an ankle sprain, he nixed any notion of missing out on the opportunity to play his first game since March of 2013.
“I’ll be ready for Friday,” Bond said. “Right now I’m just itching to get out there with my team, just [to] prove a lot to everybody and show how hard I’ve been working this offseason and hopefully have a big year this year. … I want to give my team whatever they need offensively or defensively.”
At one time, Bond was a three-star Texas commit. The junior signed with the Longhorns in August 2011 instead of hometown programs Temple and La Salle, along with Penn State and West Virginia.
Bond averaged 3.4 points per game while playing an average of 15.4 minutes per game in 2011-12 as a freshman in 34 contests. Those numbers dipped to 2.8 ppg, 11.1 mpg in 20 games in his sophomore season, and he soon requested a transfer in March 2013.
While Dunphy stressed Bond’s immediate need to heal his ankle, the 6-foot-8, 240-pounder has the potential to bring an immediate impact to an Owls defense that Dunphy said will need to rely on Bond’s services in 2014-15.
“Jaylen can be a spectacular defensive player,” Dunphy said, “and the reality is he has to be a spectacular defensive player in order for us to be a good team.”
Morgan last saw game action on Jan. 10, 2013 in a UMass uniform. After he went down with a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament in that game, he never again played a minute for the Minutemen, and elected to transfer to Temple that summer.
As he has one semester of eligibility left to spend, he opted to play during the spring, and will first be eligible, along with Coleman, to play in Temple’s 11th game of the season on Dec. 18 against the University of Delaware.
“I think I kind of matured a little bit,” Morgan said. “I definitely fought through adversity and it kind of helped me mature as much as I could as a player and it helped me mature more as a leader.”
Since making the jump to Temple in January, Coleman said the immediate familiarity with his two local teammates helped ease the shift back home.
“I’ve settled in well,” Coleman said. “It wasn’t hard, it wasn’t a difficult adjustment to make. I already knew a few guys on the team, Jaylen and Jesse, and everybody was really accepting and everything of me coming over. It’s been a pleasure to come here at such a storied program like Temple and work my tail off.”
Andrew Parent can be reached at email@example.com and on twitter @Andrew_Parent23