In the world of big time collegiate athletics you have to be flexible and highly adapatable. There are too many variables that can get a youngster off track, many of them out of his control. It was this imperfect storm of events that will allow sophomore Garland Judkins to leave Arizona and to now make lemonade out of lemons here in the Alamo City.
First of all, my condolences to The Judkins as Garland's maternal grandfather passed away in East Texas. As I'm writing this (at halftime of the Texas-Alabama game) Garland and his mom are headed to Tucson to pick up his car and other belongings for the next chapter of his life in San Antonio.
This is a lesson for other young ballers about the rough and tumble world of college basketball at the D-1 level. This is a player who was recruited by Lute Olson, the legendary Wildcats coach. Lute, didn't like Garland, he LOVED him. Sadly, health issues caused Coach Olson to go through a series of "yes I am, no I'm not" the coach. Ultimately, Olson stepped aside and Assistant Russ Pennell was named the interim Head Coach. Judkins started 4 games as a true freshman last year, and eventually settled in to nominal playing time on a team which had two NBA draft picks last year (Jordan Hill & Chase Buddinger) as well as Senior PG Nic Wise who is also a future pro.
This summer brought new hope, and a third Head Coach in a 10 month period. Sean Miller took over as the Head Man. coming over from Xavier University. Like all coaches, he evaluated the players, decided what direction he wanted to go in and as expected wants "his own guys". Coach Miller called me a week ago when I was in Mississippi evaluating players and was classy and professional enough to tell me that Garland was not part of his plans. He asked me (in consulation with Garland's family) to explore other opportunities for him immediately. Judkins was welcome to stay until April but in essence would waste another half year of eligibility.
I'll spare everyone the behind the scenes stuff, but with less than 2 weeks to try and find the right fit the discussion turned to opportunities for playing time and to a lesser degree proximity to home. When I contacted UTSA Coach Brooks Thompson, he was excited. After several days of making sure that both schools NCAA compliance officers dotted the i's and crossed the t's, Judkins received his release papers. UT-San Antonio has just gotten a game changer. Judkins, as a D-1 to D-1 transfer will have sit out until next December (although the NCAA will likely be petitioned by UTSA to have him play sooner because of the death in the family) but once he hits the hardwood for the Roadrunners he should really bring a new dimension to his team.
With 8 seniors graduating this year, the high powered Roadrunners will need to reload. With Judkins in the backcourt along with current star Devin Gibson those two would be hands down the best backcourt in the Southland Conference next season. In the "It's A Small World" category, former interim Arizona Coach Russ Pennell (now at Grand Canyon University) coached UTSA Head Man Brooks Thompson back when they were at Oklahoma State under Eddie Sutton. UTSA Athletic Director Lynn Hickey was Coach Pennell's 7th grade Social Studies teacher back in Kansas!
Judkins is a superior athlete with a great vertical, stamina, tremendous explosiveness and is one of the quickest guys you'll ever see from one end to the other pushing the ball in transition. In the great tradition of guards we've had with the Texas D-1 Ambassadors, Garland was as explosive as anyone we've ever had in the backcourt. At this point, he still needs work on his shooting but Coach Thompson who made a pretty good name for himself at Oklahoma State and then alongside Shaq and Penny Hardaway with the Orlando Magic looks forward to having the opportunity to coach that shot of his.
Let's all welcome Garland to San Antonio, his new basketball home. Enjoy these two You Tube Video Clips of Garland with the Texas D-1 Ambassadors, compliments of my friends at www.goazcats.com