The next Mardy Collins could be in Fran Dunphy’s backyard this weekend.And the men’s basketball coach doesn’t want an opportunity like that to slip through his grasp.
Dunphy will be on campus all weekend, when the first-ever Coaches vs. Cancer Amateur
Athletic Union tournament takes flight.
The university will host more than 50 AAU teams from the East Coast, all of which are composed of current high school sophomores
and juniors. The three-day tournament will run from April 27-29, and will play its games at McGonigle Hall, the Student Pavilion and Pearson Hall.
There are plenty of reasons why it’s beneficial that Temple host this tournament. I’ll offer two of them.
First, there’s the obvious: It’s a perfect opportunity to raise awareness of Coaches vs. Cancer, a nonprofit organization for which Dunphy serves as the national president.
Secondly, and most importantly, the tournament also gives Dunphy a chance to watch the players who could help lift Temple back into the national spotlight.The Owls haven’t made the NCAA Tournament
since 2001. In Dunphy’s first year as the Owls ended their 24-year postseason run.
The exposure this tournament could provide is just what the new coach and his program needs.
Just think of the possibilities – in down time from their games, these youngsters might walk around campus. They might peruse the TECH Center or stop into the Student Center for a bite to eat. No matter what they do or where they go, they will get a first-hand glimpse of what Temple has to offer.
Division I coaches can’t put a price tag on that kind of exposure.At the thought of these players touring Temple’s campus, Dunphy was overjoyed.
“I hope they do [take a tour],” Dunphy said last week by phone. “That would be terrific
for Temple.” On top of that, Dunphy
might be watching the next great NBA player take the floor. Temple basketball
fans don’t have to look too far down memory lane to recall the Owls discovering a standout right in their own backyard.Five years ago, John Chaney wandered into McGonigle Hall fresh off a road trip.
Then the Owls’ coach, Chaney was weary and ready to call it a night. But it was then that the Hall of Fame coach first saw Mardy Collins play a high school basketball game. At the time, Collins was a scrawny guard for Philadelphia’s Simon Gratz High. Fast forward to the present day and Collins has just wrapped up his rookie season in the NBA, where he ranked third among rookies in double-doubles.
“To see Martavis Kee, [Dunphy] had to go to South Florida. So to see the players of his make all in one place, all in one nine-hour slot, it’s very appealing,” said Bill Campo, the director of the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament.
Yes, it’s a stretch to think that one weekend will be enough time for Dunphy to fit these players for their very own cherry and white jerseys.
Though Dunphy hasn’t ruled out the possibilities, he’ll have some competition. All Division I basketball coaches are free to attend the tournament, as April marks an open recruiting period for the NCAA.”It’s a chance for these young men to showcase their talent in front of a lot of coaches,”
Jeff Wilson agreed. The director of men’s basketball operations said this tournament will be a valuable tool for Temple’s recruiting efforts.
And, he said, it gives Dunphy and other area D-I coaches a weekend off.
“They travel so much during the spring and the summer that it’s nice for them to know they can stay home one weekend,” Wilson said.
In the recruiting game, it’s all about having a leg up on the competition. This weekend, Dunphy will have that advantage. He’ll also have some of the nation’s top high school talent right in his own backyard.
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.