New Dayton Flyers recruit ‘has chance to be NBA player’

Jordan Pierce averaged 7.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game in 24 games as a junior at Union Catholic Regional High School, which is about 17 miles southwest of Newark. He visited UD over the weekend with his parents.

Sandy Pyonin, who coaches Pierce with the New Jersey Road Runners, an AAU team, said Dayton’s getting a steal in Pierce, who received scholarship offers from South Carolina, Seton Hall and Temple, among others.

“He loved the campus,” Pyonin said. “He loved everything. He was really excited. I’m not here to burst his bubble. I said, ‘Hey, I love the program. I feel you should take your visits (to other schools), but if you don’t want to, be my guest. I’m 100 percent behind this decision. It’s not even a questionable or bad decision at all. I know the people. It probably fits you well.’”

Pierce is the second 2017 recruit to pick the Flyers. His commitment came eight days after Jordan Davis, a 6-4 guard from Irmo, S.C., announced his decision to attend UD. The Flyers have three scholarships remaining in the 2017 class.

“When it all comes together, if he really wants it, he has a chance to be a NBA player, not just a college player,” Pyonin said. “He has all the God-given gifts to be as good as he wants to be provided he puts the time and effort he needs to get to that level. It’s a lot of work.”

Pierce explained his decision on Twitter. He wrote, “The reason I made this decision was because when I made my official visit this past weekend, they made me feel like I was at home. Coach Miller wow!! I was extremely impressed with how the team was one unit and how they embraced me as one of their own. Coach Miller is one of the most genuine people I ever met in my life.”

Miller told Pierce to go to a school that needs him, not one that just wants him. In his Twitter post, Pierce looked back on his unlikely road to a Division I scholarship. He thanked Pyonin for training him and rekindling his interest in basketball.

“I remember when I was always picked last in everything,” he wrote. “No one used to pay me any mind. They used to say I was tall for no reason.”

Pierce has come a long way in the last year and a half, Union Catholic coach Jim Reagan said. He has grown four or five inches in that time. He’s gotten comfortable with his height. and Reagan thinks he could be a 7-footer by the time he gets to UD.

“It’s a good match for Jordan and Dayton,” Reagan said. “The sky is the limit for Jordan. He has improved tremendously. His upside is continuing to grow. He’s going to be better and better as time goes on. He’s a legit 6-11. He’s a long kid. He plays against the best competition there is in the state of New Jersey, and Jordan has really done his best against the better competition.”

Reagan called Pierce a traditional center who can score and rebound.

“He’s got very good hands,” Reagan said. “He scores at the rim. He’s a very good passer for a big guy out of the post.”

Reagan thinks Pierce and Dayton are a good match and said the recruiting period has been super busy for Pierce.

“There’s been at least a dozen schools that have offered,” Pierce said. “I know he really likes the situation at Dayton and really likes coach Miller and coach (Kevin) Kuwik. I think Dayton mirrors Union Catholic in a lot of ways. Really good people. Really good school.”