Northwestern Basketball Recruit '50-50' After Coach's Firing
Lake Hopatcong's Jaren Sina unsure about keeping commitment to university that recruited him after coach was dismissed.
When Jaren Sina completed his basketball career at Gill St. Bernard’s his future must have seemed like a clear path, but now it may be as complicated as a drive to the basket in heavy traffic.
The Lake Hopatcong resident was planning on attending Northwestern University, which tendered him a scholarship last fall. On Saturday, the Wildcats fired head coach Bill Carmody after a 13-year stint. The act brings Sina’s future in doubt and understandably he is a little upset about the situation.
“Sure he is,’’ Jaren’s father and Gill St. Bernards basketball coach Mergin Sina said. “The coach that recruited him is leaving. We’re just going to have to figure it out.’’
Northwestern Athletic Director James J. Phillips flew out to visit the Sinas on Monday to discuss matters. Sina said they were fresh out of the meeting and that the family is going to take a ‘wait and see’ approach and that it was a ‘50-50 decision’ on whether to stay at Northwestern or move on. There is no deadline on when the Sinas can ask for the scholarship to be rescinded in order for Jaren to move on to another school.
Sina is coming off a strong senior season for Gill St. Bernards, a private school located in Gladstone. The Knights starting point guard averaged 21.2 points, 9.1 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game. Gill St. Bernard’s season ended with a 19-8 record after suffering a loss to the Patrick School in the Non Public South B state tournament semifinals.
Carmody’s dismissal was a disappointment to the Sinas. Carmody once had a coaching stint at Princeton University. He was a longtime assistant there, replacing the legendary Pete Carril. He had a four-year run with the Tigers before moving on to Northwestern. In 13 seasons with the Wildcats, Carmody posted a 192-210 record. Although he is considered the best basketball coach in the history of the school, he was unable to get the Wildcats an NCAA tournament bid during his tenure.
This year Northwestern finished with a 13-19 record and was beset by injuries to some of their better players. The Wildcats were eliminated from Big 10 Tournament play with a 73-59 loss to Iowa in the opening round on March 14.
Sina has been highly recruited. As a sophomore he gave a verbal commitment to the University of Alabama but decided against it late last year. Seton Hall, Miami, Memphis and Pittsburgh were other schools he seriously considered attending.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound athlete was ranked 24th in the nation among point guards by Scout.com. He is also considered to be one of the highest rated prospects in Northwestern’s history. It was speculated that Sina would ask for a release from his National Letter of Intent after comments his father made last week. Mergin Sina talked to the Chicago Sun Times on Wednesday regarding rumors of Carmody’s possible dismissal.
“I'm not saying Jaren won't come, but it will be very difficult for him to step on the floor at Northwestern if coach Carmody doesn't stay,” Sina said. “Watching the way he coaches and what he gets out of those kids, as a coach, I'm impressed to a point where I can't figure out why there's even a discussion here.”
Maybe just as important to the decision is the future of Northwestern’s assistant coach Fred Hill. The former Rutgers head coach was pivotal in the Wildcats’ pursuit of Sina.
“He recruited me basically for four straight years which was pretty cool,’’ Jaren Sina said in December. “He’s the first coach I had a relationship with which really helped big time. He has seen me from my freshman to my senior year so he has seen my progression for four years. He’s always been there.’’
Hill is still listed on the Northwestern roster as an assistant. Despite his experience, he is not being mentioned on the short list of names considered to be in play for the job. Published reports have Duke assistant coach Chris Collins and current Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew among the early candidates.