Center Hill senior point guard Calvin Temple can’t put a pen to paper on his National Letter of Intent until Nov. 14 at the earliest, and he could even put it off until next April if he wants.
However, Monday Temple decided to tell the world where he is committing to play his college basketball next season.
Memphis likes to bill itself as “Hoop City,” but Indiana is truly the state where basketball is more than just a game, it’s a way of life. Just ask Coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) of the Hickory High School squad in the movie, “Hoosiers.”
Temple announced Monday he wants to spend four years playing basketball in that hoop culture of the Hoosier state. While not heading to Indiana University, the talented point guard will be just up the road in Indianapolis, as part of the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, or IUPUI Jaguars.
IUPUI was among five finalist schools for Temple’s services and while it takes seven driving hours from his Olive Branch home to the Indiana state capital, his road to get where he is has been much longer.
“It’s a beautiful city in Indianapolis and I’m trying to get far from home,” Temple said. “I’m trying to get away from all the bad things, the crime and stuff going on in Memphis. I want to get my degree, stay there for four years of my life and be happy. The coaches love me, they want me and I love it there as well.”
IUPUI is a member of the Horizon League and is coached by Jason Gardner, an Indiana native who spent a year assisting Josh Pastner at Memphis and also assisted at Loyola-Chicago. He played college basketball under Lute Olson at Arizona as a four-year All-American for the Wildcats.
The Jaguars have been to only one NCAA tournament, coming in 2003, when they were ousted by number-one seed Kentucky in the first round.
Temple’s road to Monday began as a sophomore playing at Olive Branch High School, but Temple transferred to Center Hill for his junior year. However, the transfer made in March of his sophomore year resulted in him being declared ineligible to play his junior season for Center Hill and without a place to play.
“It was real tough seeing my peers and teammates going out and play every night, knowing I could help them win,” Temple said.
Calvin, realizing he had to be on the court to get noticed, left Center Hill in his junior year and transferred to Aspire Academy, a basketball-centered college prep school in Louisville, Kentucky.
“Tubby Smith told us, ‘In the recruiting world, it’s out of sight, out of mind,’” Mealer said. “It was painful for him. He tried to go to Aspire Academy and he did that because it gave him an opportunity to play.”
It was at Aspire where colleges started to take notice of his play and the recruitment crush began.
“I had 32 schools call and it was a tough decision,” Temple said of his commitment selection.
Among the schools in his Final Five were Tulsa, a rival of the Memphis Tigers in the American Athletics Conference, and Louisiana-Monroe, which coach Newton Mealer admitted was Temple’s “close second.”
Mealer said IUPUI coaches want him to be an “impact player” right away, and that’s what Temple wants, as well.
“They’re getting a versatile point guard,” Mealer said. “Not only is he a distributor, but he can really shoot the basketball. He’s tough, tenacious, strong, can get in the lane and get the ‘and ones.’ More importantly, he’s a leader, he excels at that job for us.”
Mealer noted he averaged 30 points a game for Center Hill in their summer program this year, so “he hasn’t lost anything, that’s for sure.”
Both added because Temple has committed doesn’t mean the recruitment wars are done.
“He found a place that he really likes, so the worst case scenario is, ‘I’ve already found a place that really likes me and I like them. If I have a great senior season and Vanderbilt comes calling or something like that, I’ll still have visits left and I still have the opportunity to pursue that.’” Mealer said about Temple’s options.
So the question now remains, when Nov. 14 and the early signing period begins, or in April when the regular signing period takes place, will Calvin Temple’s pen land on an IUPUI intent letter? The Jaguars certainly hope so.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.