Nick Jourdain doesn’t have much interest in stopping to smell the roses after his first two years at Temple. But his progress is worth noting.
In the first nine games of his career, Jourdain cracked double-digit minutes only once, in a blowout win over NJIT on Dec. 19, 2020. He spent a lot of that time playing one-on-one after games with then-injured Khalif Battle in an emptied Liacouras Center.
Jourdain has since developed into Temple’s most versatile forward, someone the Owls rely on at both ends of the floor.
“I rarely look back at it because most of the time I’m so in the moment of what’s going on,” Jourdain said. “Honestly, I know I have plenty more in the tank so I’m not going to look back. This is just the start of my journey.”
This season, Jourdain has started 17 of 28 games and is playing 24.0 minutes per contest, chipping in 6.8 points and 5.4 rebounds. He’s also second to Memphis’ Jalen Duren, the American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year, in blocks per game (1.8) in conference play.
“Nick is one of those guys whose work doesn’t always necessarily show up on the stat sheet all the time, but we know what he’s worth and what he brings to the table for us,” said redshirt freshman guard Damian Dunn. “He’s dangerous… he’s one of those guys who, without him, I don’t know if we’d be a four seed [in the conference tournament] right now.”
Jourdain notched a career-high 23 points while grabbing five rebounds and three blocks in a road win over Tulsa on Jan. 12. Drew Carter, an ESPN broadcaster on the call, dubbed the 6-foot-8 stretch forward the nickname, “Nick Jourdain-gerous.”
The CliftonN.J. native first got wind of his new nickname when the Temple men’s basketball Twitter account shared a clip including Carter’s call. The next day in practice, assistant coach Jimmy Fenerty told him to lock in and “get Jourdain-gerous.”
“To be honest, I thought it was fire,” Jourdain said. “I don’t think I could get a better nickname than that. I hope it sticks.”
Because of Jourdain’s versatility, Temple often leans on its backcourt depth and utilizes undersized lineups. Jourdain, Jeremiah Williams (pre shoulder injury), Dunn, Zach Hicks, and Jahlil White — who are each listed between 6-5 and 6-8 — make up the Owls’ small-ball lineup. Tai Strickland and Hysier Miller, at 6-2 and 6-1, respectively, have rotated into a guard slot during Williams’ absence.
A player like Jourdain, who feels comfortable firing from deep despite shooting 25% from three for his career, can pull opposing bigs out of the paint. That stretches the defense, in turn, allowing Temple to play inside out, according to coach Aaron McKie.
“I found that I have a lot of advantages as a five-man,” Jourdain said. “Whether it’s speed, quickness, athleticism, length. I have to identify it then use that. It also makes it easier because at times I might pop, then [the guards] have more space to drive because of the spacing on the floor.”
Jourdain credits Williams for helping refine his understanding of the game.
Before Temple’s second matchup with Southern Methodist on Feb. 16, the two walked to class bouncing ideas off each other. They discussed how Jourdain could contain Marcus Weathers. The Mustangs forward exploded for 27 points in their first matchup on Jan. 29, but Jourdain held him to just 15 in the rematch.
Jourdain had the same answer when asked in what areas does he have room for growth: an improved three-point shot, consistency from mid-range, finishing around the rim, and his overall versatility defending the one through five positions.
Defending without fouling is No. 1 on Jourdain’s list heading into the conference tournament quarterfinals on Friday against Tulane. He’s fouled out in eight games and been called for four fouls in five more.
“I’m second in the league in blocks, so I’m going for everything,” Jourdain said. “I think the correction is just walling and defending straight up. There are times where I get those help-side blocks or I chase people down when I’m beat, but a lot of these fouls come from not jumping when I’m inside that charge circle or me putting my hands down. It’s simple defensive mistakes like that.”
When Jourdain can stay out of foul trouble, McKie points out that the sophomore allows Temple to switch screen and rolls on the perimeter with his ability to recover and sufficiently protect the rim.
“He’s emerging,” McKie said. “It’s a progression to get to this point. He’s basically a freshman … I told him, ‘Demand more of yourself. Get greedy and want more.’”