Jordan Pierce can’t walk into a Foot Locker and buy shoes. He wears size 17. He has to find new shoes online.
Pierce has trouble getting comfortable in cars. He hits his head a lot. Those are a few of the everyday challenges when you’re 6-foot-11 — as Pierce is listed by all the college basketball recruiting websites — or even taller. It’s not official because Pierce hasn’t measured himself in a while, but he thinks he has grown.
“I’m 7-foot right now,” Pierce said Monday. “I think so. I want to know for sure.”
The Dayton Flyers will add Pierce, a senior at Union Catholic High School in Scotch Plains, N.J., to the roster a year from now. He announced his verbal commitment Sunday after visiting UD’s campus Saturday. National signing day is in November.
The Flyers still have three open scholarships available for 2017. Pierce is the second 2017 recruit and the second Jordan to join the class. Jordan Davis, a 6-4 guard from Irmo, S.C., verbally committed Aug. 27.
McKinley Wright, a guard from Minnesota, is scheduled to visit UD this weekend and wrote on Twitter he would announce his decision Sept. 15. Keith Williams, a 6-5 guard from Brooklyn, will visit Dayton on Oct. 1. Dayton is also in the mix for guard Darryl Morsell, from Baltimore. He’s scheduled to visit Oct. 21.
Those are just a few of the players Dayton could end up with in 2017, and of course, there’s always the possibility they could add a transfer or two in the spring. They might not fill all five spots because they often keep one spot open. The class is a long way from complete, but Pierce’s decision gives the Flyers another big man for the future.
“To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to commit,” Pierce said. “I had another official visit with Temple, but everything just felt right. The same vibe I get from the University of Dayton is the same vibe I get from Union Catholic. It feels right. This is the place I want to be.”
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Jordan’s parents, Jim and Sharlynn Pierce, accompanied Jordan on the visit. They heard all about Dayton’s rabid fan base and toured UD Arena and the campus.
“It was a great experience for us,” Jim said. “It was a really beautiful campus, very modern and accessible and intuitive. It’s a big city, but it has a small-town feel about it.”
Pierce spent time with Dayton players and coaches. He saw a movie, “Don’t Breathe,” with fellow New Jersey native Charles Cooke. He went to coach Archie Miller’s house with the Flyers.
“I just liked how they interacted with the coaches off the court,” Pierce said. “They didn’t talk about basketball or the team or about how you need to do this and you need to that. The whole time I was at coach Miller’s house, they were talking about football, about ping pong. It wasn’t just strictly basketball. They knew to keep the business the business and the personal the personal.”
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The Flyers started recruiting Pierce in May, he said. Assistant coach Kevin Kuwik impressed Pierce with personal letters in the mail.
“He took the time out of his day every day to write me a letter,” Pierce said. “It would be something different every day. He took the time to recruit me. He actually cared. There were a lot of schools that were interested, but when they would send letters, it wouldn’t be personal. Coach (Kuwik) would say, ‘I hope you’re having a good day,’ and he would ask about my dog. My dog’s name is Frazier. He would ask, ‘How’s Frazier doing?’”
Pierce averaged 7.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game in 24 games as a junior. As recent as a year ago, he had little inkling he would become a top recruit.
“I didn’t know if I was going to ever play college basketball because I was under the radar,” Pierce said. “I was 6-8 and chubby. I didn’t think anything like this was going to happen. All of this changed for me in the last year.”
Jim Pierce said his son’s improved work ethic changed everything.
“He went from someone who wasn’t a great basketball enthusiast,” Jim said, “to someone who was mentored and learned to love the sport and realized that it was a great opportunity for him for the future.”