A legendary basketball coach doesn’t win multiple national championships without having an eye for talent or the ability to convince those players to join his program.
Rick Pitino has the gift of gab. He has gotten another prized recruit except this time it has a Western New York flavor: Jordan Nwora.
Nwora, the two-time All-WNY first team selection, is going big time. The Park School product who is currently at a prep school announced via Twitter on Wednesday that he has verbally committed to Louisville.
Nwora received a full scholarship offer, according to Park coach Mike Battaglia.
“Our plan was for me to wait until the spring to make a commitment,” Nwora wrote in his tweet. “Coaches Pitino and (assistant Kenny Johnson) visited several times and discussed their plans for me looking into the future. After visiting Louisville, I was overwhelmed with support from coaches, players, fans and the community.”
Louisville, which won the NCAA championship in 2013, is a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Nwora recently made his official visit to the Louisville campus. He stopped by Park on Sunday to workout, chatting with Battaglia during his time in his old stomping grounds. According to Battaglia, Pitino also visited the Nwora home during the recruiting process.
The 6-foot-8 Nwora is an accurate outside shooter with a sweet release. He’s playing at Vermont Academy this season.
Nwora, whose father Alex coaches at Erie Community College, has been on the Division I radar for more than two seasons. A tall player like Nwora with the ability to drain the three is a coveted commodity.
His stock rose even more during the summer while playing on the Nike AAU Circuit, where he averaged 14.6 points per game and shot 39.2 percent from three-point range.
“I don’t know when the last time a high school player signed with a prominent program,” Battaglia said Wednesday night. “We were lucky when Jordan transferred over to Park (from Amherst). He made a big difference.”
Folks do not have to go too far back to find the last Western New York talent to play for a program in one of the five major conferences. That player is Jamestown’s Jaysean Paige, the 2011 News Player of the Year, who played the past two seasons at West Virginia of the Big 12 after two seasons at the junior college level. In 2010, Nichols product Will Regan signed with Virginia but transferred to the University at Buffalo after one season.
Williamsville North product Sterling Taplin currently plays for Tulsa of the American Athletic Conference, which received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament last year.
At Park, Nwora helped the Pioneers capture the New York State Federation Tournament of Champions Class B title, a state Catholic High School Athletic Association championship and the Manhattan Cup Class B crown – all in 2015.
That season, his junior year, he earned most valuable player honors at the Federation Tournament in helping Park win its first state championship with a 70-51 win over New York City champion Maspeth. He scored a game-high 29 points and had 12 boards in that triumph. That capped a 23-3 season for Park in which Nwora shot 42 percent from three-point range and averaged 23.0 points per game.
During his senior season at Park last year, Nwora averaged 24 points and 12 boards per game in helping Park reach the Manhattan Cup Class A final, where the Pioneers dropped a two-point decision in overtime to eventual state Catholic champion Canisius. Nwora, a 1,000 points scorer at Park, also nearly doubled his per-game average in rebounds from his junior season as the Pioneers relied more on his size inside than in 2014-15.
Nwora is ranked No. 91 in ESPN's Top 100 recruits.
Other suitors for Nwora included North Carolina State, University of California-Berkeley, Marquette, South Florida and Oklahoma State.
“One thing about Jordan is he is a student of the game,” Battaglia said. “He understands it. … As he matures, he’ll have more success in the areas he struggles in because he is young. He’s still young enough to play high school basketball.
“He likes Louisville. He liked the way they practiced. He felt comfortable.”
Here is the Tweet from Nwora, informing the masses of his decision.
— Jordan Nwora (@JordanNwora) October 19, 2016