Temple spent its spring reloading its men’s basketball team.
The Owls lost four scholarship players to graduation and two more to the transfer portal in the weeks that followed the end of last season. They’ve since secured three forwards through the portal and one guard from the class of 2022.
What Temple chooses to do with its remaining two scholarships remains to be seen. The Owls have the option to bring in another player or roll that spot over to next year.
For now, here’s a deeper look at the four recent additions and what to expect from them.
Kur Jongkuch, Northern Colorado
Jongkuch was Temple’s first addition. He announced on April 27 he would join the Owls as a graduate transfer from Northern Colorado.
With one season of eligibility remaining, Jongkuch should have an opportunity to see quality minutes. Temple’s only frontcourt returnees are Nick Jourdain, the team’s blocks leader, and Emmanuel Okpomo, who missed most of last season with a neck injury.
Jongkuch spent four years with the Bears and started 107 games in 119 appearances. He averaged 8.9 points and a team-leading 8.6 rebounds this past season.
“[They see me] in a leadership role being an older person,” Jongkuch said. “Someone they can look to as an inside presence and just to be there for whatever they need.”
The 6-foot-9, 220-pound forward picked up basketball later in life. He was born in Kakuma, Kenya, which at one point was one of the largest refugee camps in the world. His family escaped north to Juba, South Sudan, where he grew up.
An asylum visa allowed him to move to Canada carrying only the clothes on his back. He attended St. André Bessette Catholic Secondary School, then London Basketball Academy in London, Ontario, where he picked up a basketball for the first time.
“I’m a blue-collar type of guy who works hard and keeps his mouth shut,” Jongkuch said. “Just someone who does what he needs to do.”
Jamille Reynolds, Central Florida
Reynolds transferred to Temple from conference foe Central Florida with three years of eligibility remaining.
In two seasons, he averaged 4.1 points and 2.4 rebounds in 11.0 minutes per game and added 19 career blocks.
“We were able to see Jamille up close over the past two years when we played against UCF,” coach Aaron McKie said in a statement. “He is an experienced big man who we feel has a big upside on the court and fits into the culture of our program.”
Reynolds is a 6-foot-10, 285-pound bruiser — making him the largest player on Temple’s roster — with a soft touch around the rim. He could end up being more of a long-term frontcourt investment.
Taj Thweatt, West Virginia
Temple originally recruited Thweatt out of Wildwood Catholic in the 2020 class.
While his South Jersey teammate Jahlil White committed to the Owls, Thweatt opted for the Big 12 and played at West Virginia. He played sparingly in his freshman season before entering the portal in January as a midyear transfer and landing at Coastal Carolina.
On May 20, after a second go-around in the portal, he announced his commitment to Temple with three years of eligibility.
“When I entered the portal, they reached out to my AAU coach,” Thweatt said, referring to Mike Rice of Team Rio. “It really just went from there because I already knew once I was coming home that I would probably end up at Temple.”
By picking Temple, Thweatt strengthens the Jersey connection on North Broad Street and joins a few familiar faces. He played in high school with White, played AAU ball with Khalif Battle and Jourdain, and has crossed paths with Zach Hicks in pickup games.
Temple will likely use Thweatt in a versatile, undersize-forward role. He’s 6-foot-7 and can guard multiple positions. Thweatt’s main objective this summer is to improve his ballhandling and become a more consistent shooter to better fit into McKie’s up-tempo, positionless scheme.
After using his one-time transfer waiver at Coastal Carolina, he’ll have to apply for a waiver to avoid sitting out this season.
Deuce Roberts, class of 2022
Roberts is the only incoming freshman for Temple’s 2022 class. He attended St. Michael the Archangel Catholic High School in Lee’s Summit, Mo.
Temple first got in touch with the 6-7, 180-pound guard after Robin Lucas Jr., one of Roberts’ coaches, name-dropped him to Owls assistant coach Chris Clark at an AAU tournament. Clark is the nephew of Roberts’ former coach, Leo Wright.
After sending over film in late April, Roberts took an official visit to the campus last week, picked up his first Division I offer, and announced his commitment on June 4.
“I really just felt at home in Philly,” Roberts said. “I loved the coaching staff and the atmosphere when I was there. So, to me, it was a no-brainer on committing.”
He expects to come off the bench and fit in minutes alongside Battle, Damian Dunn, and Hysier Miller. McKie told Roberts he has a high upside playing on and off the ball.
“To hear that from him really kind of opened my eyes,” Roberts said. “I didn’t know who Coach McKie was, but once I started getting Temple interest I looked [him] up and saw he played 13 years in the [NBA] and played with Allen Iverson. … I want to learn from someone who’s been where I would love to go.”