RECRUITING: Loyd finds Oregon just his size

It was no mystery to Johnathan Loyd why he felt overlooked and underestimated for most of his senior year at Bishop Gorman High School. He was a standout basketball player in every way but one.

”I think because of my size, people questioned me,’’ the 5-foot-9-inch point guard said. ”But I felt like whoever got me is going to get something good.’’

Loyd became a late-blooming recruit in recent weeks, with his list of college choices growing to an impressive number. On Sunday he narrowed the list to two, then Monday announced he signed with Oregon.

For the second time in less than two weeks, UNLV came up short on a local point guard prospect.

The Rebels’ primary target, 6-3 Cory Joseph of Findlay Prep, signed with Texas on April 23. Two days later, UNLV coach Lon Kruger offered a scholarship to Loyd, who also received a late call from Oregon.

Loyd, who drew only small-school offers during the fall, also had Florida, Michigan State, Northwestern, Oklahoma and Washington State, among others, on his trail.

He called the sudden crush of attention “real flattering,” and he benefited by not rushing to judgment in the fall.

“It’s finally over,’’ Loyd said. ”With how long I waited, everything happens for a reason.’’

Gorman coach Grant Rice said Loyd’s surge in recruiting interest snowballed to the point where Loyd was fielding 10 to 12 calls daily from major programs.

“It was a different kind of recruitment the way things picked up late,” Rice said. “I’ve never seen a kid get hot like that.”

Loyd averaged 14.1 points, 8.2 assists and 3.3 steals as a senior for the Gaels, who went 30-2 and won their second straight Class 4A state title. He received Nevada Player of the Year honors from the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Gatorade.

Last weekend Loyd visited Oregon, which recently hired Dana Altman as coach. Altman attempted to recruit Loyd to Creighton, and that connection proved pivotal when Altman changed jobs.

”I talked to my dad,’’ said Loyd, whose father, Michael, played for UNLV from 1978-81. “We went to lunch when I got back, and he felt like Oregon was a good situation. His input means a lot to me.

”I liked UNLV since I was young. But when I was in ninth grade I wanted to go to Oregon. When those two offered me on the same day, it blew my mind away.’’

Loyd said he was initially attracted to the Ducks four years ago, when small guards Tajuan Porter and Aaron Brooks starred there. Ironically, Porter and Brooks led Oregon to a victory over UNLV in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 in 2007.

In another ironic twist, Loyd becomes the first Oregon recruit for Altman, who was a Kansas State assistant to Kruger from 1986 to 1989.

UNLV received a commitment last week from UCLA transfer Mike Moser, a 6-8 forward. But Kruger lost Joseph to Texas, and then was unsuccessful in a late push to get Loyd.

”There weren’t any major surprises to this recruiting year,’’ Kruger said. ”When you only have two seniors graduating, you expect it to be a fairly short list. There were just not many scholarships available.’’

Loyd also had an earlier scholarship offer to play football at UNLV after a standout season as a defensive back and return specialist, but passed it up to keep basketball his top priority.

Las Vegas Prospects coach Anthony Brown, who was Loyd’s longtime summer coach, said Loyd has a better shot to play immediately at Oregon.

“He could possibly be a four-year starter at Oregon in the Pac-10, and that’s pretty sexy,’’ Brown said. ”I don’t know if the same opportunity would have been there at UNLV. Let’s be honest, UNLV has some damn good guards, and their whole team is coming back.

”I think people were afraid of (Loyd’s) size. But when you watch him … you have to say this kid, despite his size, can really play.’’

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