September 29, 2008

Toppers scoring on the recruiting trail

There are many selling points that coaches make when pitching their program to recruits, such as facilities, history and tradition and the campus itself.

One of the most important may be making a player feel comfortable and at home.

Coach Ken McDonald's second verbal commit of the season was impressed with the coaches' personable characteristics, in choosing the Toppers.

Jordan Swing, a 6-foot-6, 200 pound forward from Vestavia Hills (Ala.) liked McDonald and the coaching staff, in choosing WKU over offers from Belmont, Murray State, Arkansas State and Bradley.

Not that he wasn't impressed with WKU's 'digs' as well.

"I really liked their facilities, the first time I went there and how nice they were," Swing said. "I really liked that coaching staff too. They really were more of like friends. They really try to be more friends than just coaches with you."

Swing is listed as a forward, but he's shown his versatility for coach George Hatchett and the Rebels.

"He has perimeter player skills and has always been that way," Hatchett said. "He came in here, when he was a young kid, he was primarily a set shooter. He's added to his game a whole bunch. He goes to the basket really well now. Of course, that doesn't mean that the job's done yet. He's still got some things that he can work on and get better at. For us, he's gonna play all of them. He'll play one through five at some point during the year. If you play a big guy on him, we're gonna let him handle the ball, if you play a guard on him, we're gonna let him post up. Jordan's got a lot of upside to him, a lot of things he can do for us and a lot of things he can do at Western."

Hatchett isn't one for playing an up-tempo style of play, though playing for the Nashville Celtics in AAU ball over the summer gave Swing a chance to play different styles.

"Just from my high school team, we have a really old-school coach and he likes to slow it down," Swing said. "In AAU, I really get a chance to get out and run and run the break. That really helps. Then, having all these college coaches at your games, it just puts you out there and it really helps."

Though the Rebels have struggled, going 8-18 last year, Swing has been the bright spot, averaging 19 points, eight rebounds and three assists last season.

Swing also has the advantage of a good basketball pedigree. His father, Rick Swing played for the Citadel and was the second player ever drafted from there, playing briefly with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"He's taught me pretty much everything he knows," the younger Swing said. "Ever since I've been about three, I've been in the gym. He's really helped me out a lot."

Swing may also benefit from a better supporting Rebels cast this season.

"We haven't been as strong as we would like to have been the last three years since Jordan's been here and our surrounding players," Hatchett said. "Jordan's been a good player the last two years, but the guys with him hadn't been all that good. Good kids that played hard, but that's hard to win with that. This year, we think we're gonna be a little bit better with that. He's worked at it constantly. His dad's had an idea of what he wanted to do and the kid had a good idea of what he wanted to do, so it's worked out nice."

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