Fran Dunphy sat in a tranquil state along the row of red, cushioned pull-out chairs that line the men’s basketball team’s practice facility on the third floor of Pearson Hall.
Cross-legged in Temple basketball sweat gear, he stretched his arm atop the neighboring chair to his left, and let out a smile.
The Owls’ coach had officially penned his three verbal commits from the 2015 recruiting class one day prior, which consisted of two guards and a 6-foot-9-inch power forward.
Last Wednesday, the first day of the NCAA’s early signing period, Temple inked its two backcourt additions in high school seniors Levan “Shawn” Alston Jr. and Trey Lowe, along with Ernest Aflakpui, a senior center at Archbishop John Carroll High School in Delaware County.
“We’re thrilled to have all three of them,” Dunphy said. “It’s a great grouping of guys to come in [during] one year. I think they’ll have terrific careers here. They all bring a little something different to the table.”
Alston stands at a lanky 6-foot-4, 175 pounds, and is a four-star prospect, according to Rivals.com. The site ranks Lowe – 6-foot-5, 165 pounds – and Aflakpui as three-star recruits, while Alston and Lowe have spots in the Rivals150 ranking, the site’s list of the country’s Top 150 high school basketball prospects.
All three signees are rated as four-star prospects by ESPN, while Alston sits at No. 86 on the ESPN 100.
Though Dunphy declined to compare his newest crop of recruits to his previous classes during his eight-year tenure at Temple, Alston is Dunphy’s first ESPN 100 recruit since redshirt-sophomore Daniel Dingle signed as part of a 2012 class that also included juniors Quenton DeCosey and Devontae Watson.
“I don’t ever compare them to anybody else,” Dunphy said. “They’re just three guys. In an ideal world, you get three guys a year and they’d all be at three different positions. … As a whole right now, we’re really feeling good. We’ve got three guys that are at pretty much three different positions.”
Dunphy said Alston, a combo guard, can handle the duties of point guard along with his natural position of shooting guard.
His father, Levan Alston Sr., played for Temple under former coach John Chaney from 1994-96, which helped the younger Alston get his start in the sport, Haverford school coach Henry Fairfax said. Fairfax, who also coached the younger Alston in middle school, said he saw the guard as a talent from the outset.
“His dad was a player, and usually if you have a dedication like that, your kid’s going to get into it,” Fairfax said. “As a middle school kid, you could tell he had talent. His skill set was high even then. … You could see he was going to be a really special player.”
“He’s a kid that has to build,” Fairfax added. “I’ve never been big on bulk, but I just think he has to get stronger so that he’s able to finish plays. As long as he gets stronger, and is able to absorb contact, he’s going to be competitive at the next level.”
With the impending departures of senior guards Will Cummings and Jesse Morgan after this season, Dunphy said Alston will be relied on for minutes as a freshman next year.
“He’s got a chance to play immediately,” Dunphy said of Alston. “He’s a real smart basketball player, he’s done a very good job in the classroom at Haverford School, and he’s a real good leader there, too.”
At 6-foot-5, Lowe sports the frame of a swingman, and can play at the wing position, currently occupied by the likes of DeCosey and junior Jaylen Bond.
“He was the first guy who committed verbally to us,” Dunphy said of Lowe, who verbally committed to Temple in June. “He’s got great length, he’s got good athleticism, he understands the game and I think he loves the game. I think he really loves his commitment to Temple and what that can do for his career from a lot of different ways.”
Aflakpui’s road to collegiate commitment, meanwhile, stemmed from his move to the Philadelphia area from his home country of Ghana, Africa in September 2012. He settled in with a host family in Radnor, and first attended Archbishop Carroll as a sophomore.
“I have great people around me and it made it a lot easier for me,” Aflakpui said of the move. “Those people helped me make the right decision.”
Aflakpui, who verbally committed to the university last month, will help make up a young Owls frontcourt next season with current freshman Obi Enechionyia, whom ESPN rated as a four-star recruit for the 2014 class.
“The team is great and always getting better,” Aflakpui said. “I went to a couple of their practices and the guys work hard. I know what I’m getting into when I leave high school and I look forward to the challenge.”
As for Dunphy, he said he felt no additional pressure amid the 2015 recruiting period, despite coming off a 2013-14 season in which the Owls dealt with a shortage of depth and a roster that featured nine active players on athletic scholarship.
“You feel pressure every single day to do the best job that you can,” Dunphy said. “We were trying to get at least three people, and we may add a fourth. You never know.”
Andrew Parent can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter @Andrew_Parent23