Dan Majerle era starts to take shape for GCU basketball

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                </div>Dan Majerle‘s recruiting efforts in his first few months as the new head basketball coach at Grand Canyon University have taken him all over the map.  But his biggest find […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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Dan Majerle‘s recruiting efforts in his first few months as the new head basketball coach at Grand Canyon University have taken him all over the map.  But his biggest find was waiting for him right there in his home state of Michigan.

And by ‘big’ we mean six feet and 11 inches of mouth-watering potential.  His name is Miroslav Jaksic and he just wrapped up his senior season at Walled Lake Western High School, where he averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds to earn All-State honors and a No. 5 ranking among the state’s high school recruits this year.

Yes, Thunder Dan found his big man, the one he knew he needed to anchor the first team he puts on the floor at the west Phoenix Christian college.  This will be the recruiting class that will receive the most scrutiny as fans watch to see what the former Phoenix Suns favorite can do at the college level.

Majerle, who played eight seasons for the Suns and is among the nine players over the years who have been enshrined in the club’s Ring of Honor, resigned in late January after four seasons as an assistant coach for the Suns when he was passed over for the head-coaching job following the firing of Alvin Gentry.

“Being able to coach a player like Miro is why I wanted to coach in the first place,” Majerle said after getting a commitment a week ago from the youngster who grew up in Belgrade, Serbia.  “He is supremely talented, with a high ceiling as far as potential.  I look forward to working with him throughout his career as an Antelope.”

About the same time that Jaksic joined the program, Majerle added the fourth member to his first recruiting class when Jeremy Adams signed up to spend his last year of college eligibility playing for the ‘Lopes.  The 6’5″ guard played the last two seasons at the University of Colorado.

Adams played in 30 games last season for the Buffaloes, averaging 11 minutes off the bench.  He wasn’t a major contributor offensively, averaging 2.6 points a game, but he was 52.6 percent on his three-point attempts and the Buffs went to the NCAA Tournament both years, so he has that experience under his belt.

Unfortunately, he won’t be going back to the Big Dance after next season because the ‘Lopes are ineligible for post-season play until they finish their transition from Division II to D-I, which takes four years.  That will be the biggest drag on Majerle’s efforts to recruit, not being able to offer a post-season experience to those who come on board early in the process.

But, with a little help from another well-known sports personality, he is working through that.  Jerry Colangelo, the former owner of the Phoenix Suns and a highly-respected name in basketball, was hired by the school as a special assistant to the president to help with the transition to D-I and has been heavily involved in the recruiting process.

The first two acquisitions came in early May when Majerle picked up a couple of guards that should bring some scoring help.

Smartly, his first pick was a local kid who played three years at Boulder Creek High School in Anthem before transferring to Westwind Prep Academy for his senior season.  Joshua Braun averaged 9.7 points a game at Westwind, but his season was cut short with a knee injury.  At Boulder Creek, he averaged 18.5 points and 9.4 rebounds in his last year there.

“Josh is the type of player I’m looking for,” Majerle said at the time.  “He reminds me of myself when I was younger.  He is a hard worker and, more importantly, he is a winner.”

That selection of a local player was expected to send a message to others that GCU wasn’t going to overlook the talent that is available just outside its front door.

Just five days later, Akachi Okugo signed a national letter of intent to bring his skills across the border from California.  The 6’1″ guard is transferring in from Yuba College in Marysville, where he played one year and averaged 12.7 points and 6.3 assists in 27 games.  He earned First Team All-State honors that season.

It appears to be a good beginning for a new head coach who finds himself starting all over again, but this time at the college level.

When he was introduced as the new head coach at GCU, he told the 1,000 or so who had gathered in GCU Arena for the formal announcement that his hire as a college head coach was “a dream come true.”

Now that dream is turning into reality and the results on the recruiting trail will either keep the dream alive or give him nightmares for the next four years of transition.

But that’s the dilemma every college coach lives with – and this one was well aware of that before taking the job.

(Photo: GCU Athletics)