The faces of Rysheed Jordan, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brandon Austin, and Jeremiah Worthem were planted on flyers for a big party they were hosting in May 2013. The high school basketball stars brought out hundreds of people to a club in North Philly to celebrate before going their separate ways in college.
Little did anyone in attendance know that the four almost teamed up to attend the school a few blocks around the corner.
Jordan, Hollis-Jefferson, Austin, and Worthem considered attending Temple together. And this wasn’t just something jokingly thrown around. It almost happened.
“Nobody ever knew this,” Jordan says. “We were going to stay home and light Broad Street up.”
Lavoy Allen is Temple’s highest-ranked signee since 2003, at 107 nationally, according to 247sports. Jordan, Hollis-Jefferson, and Austin each topped that -- Hollis-Jefferson (15th), Jordan (31st), and Austin (47th) would have easily have given Temple its best recruiting class in the 21st century.
Temple’s class would have finished in the top 10 in the country with those three players, plus Worthem, based on 247sports’ class calculator.
“We felt like we could be the Broad Street Bullies. I think we would’ve went dancing."
“We seen Temple everyday. We went to a lot of games together,” Worthem said last month . “We wanted to get away from the violence, but Temple was the one school that we all had together.”
So why didn’t it happen?
It starts with Hollis-Jefferson. He played basketball the farthest from Temple, at Chester High, but he was the most-connected to the program. His brother, Rahlir, played for the Owls from 2009 to ’13.
“Rahlir is one of the finer human beings I’ve been around in my life,” former Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. “He was the same guy every single day. I was very grateful to have the opportunity to coach him.”
Worthem was ready to commit. The conversations were being had often.
Then, Hollis-Jefferson backed out. He began to explore other options and ended up at Arizona.
“I never told my brother and the other [Temple] players that we planned on doing that, so they were like, ‘if you come here by yourself, it might not be the best fit for you,’ ” Hollis-Jefferson said. “I feel like if I would’ve told [Rahlir] what the plan was, then he would’ve guided me, because I listened to my brother a lot.”
That was the first domino. Once that fell, everyone went their own way. Jordan went to St. John’s, Worthem to Robert Morris, and Austin to Providence.
Dunphy said that Temple recruited the players. He doesn’t remember a package deal being mentioned or discussed by the staff.
“I enjoyed recruiting all of those guys,” Dunphy said. “We would’ve loved to have all of them to come to Temple University, but that wasn’t how it all turned out.”
Temple landed Mark Williams and Josh Brown in its 2013 class. Williams averaged 4.4 points in his four-year career, and Brown averaged 6.7 points and started two seasons.
Hollis-Jefferson put up 10.2 points and 6.3 rebounds a game at Arizona and became the No. 23 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. Jordan scored 12 points per game in two seasons at St. John’s, and Worthem averaged 14.6 points and 8.0 rebounds in his senior year, after transferring to Mansfield University. Austin was dismissed from Providence and Oregon for personal problems before winning a junior college championship at Northwest Florida State College.
The career paths show the trials each player faced. Jordan had eligibility issues after missing the draft deadline. Austin denied separate sexual assault accusations at both Providence and Oregon and was not charged with a crime in either case. Officials at both schools dismissed him from the team after the incidents. Worthem spent time at three schools trying to find the right fit.
There are so many what-if scenarios for the foursome and Temple.
“We felt like we could be the Broad Street Bullies,” Worthem said. “I think we would’ve went dancing. I think we would’ve made noise in the Tournament and went deep."