Wednesday, March 15, 2017 | 2 a.m.
The offseason has begun for UNLV basketball, but Marvin Menzies can’t afford to take many days off. Roster construction is now the most important part of the Rebels’ rebuilding effort, and Menzies is busy on the recruiting trail trying to find quality players for the 2017-18 season and beyond.
On that front, UNLV could be closing in on one of its top targets, Class of 2017 point guard Jordan Goldwire, a 6-foot-2 distributor from Norcross High School (Norcross, Ga.) who has flown under the radar during the recruiting process. Goldwire may not be the flashiest player available, but he does fit many the Rebels’ needs as they continue to look to the future.
Playing on a Norcross team loaded with Division I talent, Goldwire averaged 11 points and five assists per game as a senior this season. Those numbers won’t earn any five-star ratings from the recruiting sites, but Goldwire is drawing a lot of interest from mid-major schools looking for long-term production at point guard.
Goldwire’s recruitment has picked up since he performed well in a series of holiday tournaments in December. He is currently rated as a 3-star recruit by Rivals.com, but as one of the top uncommitted point guards still available in the Class of 2017, he will have a good number of college options by the time he makes his decision in the spring. As of now, Goldwire’s top suitors are UNLV, Hofstra and Mercer.
Goldwire fits the Rebels’ rebuilding timeline. UNLV has senior Jordan Johnson set to start at point guard next season, which would give Goldwire a year to learn the system before potentially taking the reins in 2018-19.
Goldwire said he emulates parts of Damian Lillard’s game, and that he feels most comfortable running a free-flowing offensive system.
“I definitely feel like my strength is my ability to get everybody involved,” Goldwire said. “Our center and power forward [at Norcross] are really like wings at 6-foot-8, 6-foot-9, so we run a 5-out, up-tempo offense. That’s what I like — running the floor in transition, feeding those guys. I can score when I need to, and when the team needs a bucket I can be the guy to get that, but I like running the team.”
That “floor general” style of play may not make for an exciting YouTube mixtape, but Goldwire isn’t interested in highlight reels. Goldwire’s best attributes, according to Norcross coach Jesse McMillan, are his work ethic and his ability to make teammates better.
“He’s a young man that has improved each year with us,” McMillan said. “He turned himself into a high-level point guard this year. He’s been able to balance scoring the basketball and keeping his teammates involved. This program has several highly ranked, highly recruited players on the floor with him, and he was able to keep those guys involved and happy over the years.”
Goldwire also draws praise for his work on the defensive end. As a senior, McMillan assigned him to check the opponents’ best perimeter scorer, and Goldwire shined in Norcross’ man-to-man defensive system. In a December game against IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) at the City of Palms Classic, Goldwire matched up against superstar guard Trevon Duval, the No. 3 player in the Class of 2017, and held Duval to nine points on 4-of-14 shooting.
Goldwire's two-way game and team-first attitude allows mid-major teams to envision him becoming a four-year program leader.
“Whatever program he ends up at, whatever that coach needs, Jordan will fit that role,” McMillan said. “If they want more aggression offensively, he can do that. If they want a traditional point guard, he can do that. And more importantly, he can hold his own defensively. The ability to defend is what keeps freshmen off the floor, but he has guarded at a high level, and he embraces the physicality that comes with playing defense.”
Goldwire doesn’t have a timetable for making his decision, but the spring signing period begins on April 12.
“[My recruitment] has definitely picked up a lot,” he said. “Coaches call every day. Mercer has been on me hard, and Hofstra has done a good job. [Hofstra coach] Speedy Claxton has talked to me a lot. Wagner has called, and a lot of other mid-majors. UNLV has already offered. [UNLV assistant coach Andre] LaFleur came and saw me, and I’ve talked to coach Menzies. I think coach LaFleur is doing a good job recruiting me. He talks to my dad a lot. I’m coming up to visit [UNLV] soon, probably in the next month.”
Goldwire said he also wants to take official visits to Hofstra and Mercer before making up his mind. If he ends up choosing UNLV, he will be a key piece in a grand rebuilding process. The Rebels' on-court needs are numerous — stability, leadership, offensive execution, defensive attitude — and despite his modest recruiting ratings, Goldwire manages to check off all those boxes.
“I’m just looking for a place where I can come in and earn a spot,” Goldwire said. “I don’t want a spot just given to me, but I’d like to come in and compete and earn a spot. I want to have a good relationship with the coach. I want to be able to see myself living on the campus, and somewhere with good academics. I'm looking forward to finding that school.”