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LBSU basketball lands three new commits

Head coach Dan Monson lands a trio of guards in Jordan Griffin, Javonntie Jackson and Loren “Cristian” Jackson for 2016-2017 season.

Joshua Caudill, Staff Writer

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Christmas came early for Long Beach State men’s basketball coach Dan Monson as three top high school recruits have signed national letters of intent to play for the 49ers next basketball season.

Among the signings are local guards Jordan Griffin and Javonntie Jackson. Griffin is a 6-foot-3, three-star recruit out of Centennial High School in Corona, a powerhouse program in which Griffin helped lead the Huskies to the Division 1 CIF State Championship game in 2014 and the CIF semi-finals last year.

“First, Jordan is a good person. Second, he’s a good student and third, he’s a good basketball player,” Monson said. “He has all the components you want as a freshman coming in ready to elevate your program. He’s one of the premier shooters in the area. We think Evan Payne sitting out is going to be a very good [offensive] guard, but Griffin coming from a program that wins; you can never have too many winners that can shoot the ball in your program.”

Griffin, who had several offers to California programs, said he wanted to stay close to home because his parents love attending his games and he wants to keep the support. After being shown around campus by assistant coaches Rod Palmer and Myke Scholl, Griffin felt at home.

“I liked Monson’s system because it had a fast pace and quick a hitting offense, which I’m used to playing [in],” Griffin said. “I felt like I could be successful at Long Beach from an academic and athletic stand point. Overall I thought that this was the best opportunity for me.”

Compton’s Javonntie Jackson, a 6-foot 6-inch versatile wingman will be expected to fill the void that will be left by seniors Nick Faust and A.J. Spencer next season. With former 49er Mike Caffey coming out of the same high school, Monson was familiar with Jackson’s coaching staff and felt comfortable with the fit.

“He’s similar to Nick [Faust] in that he’s very multidimensional. We have Branford returning and also [have] Evan Payne sitting out; we needed a bigger wing,” Monson said. “Javonntie is certainly a bigger wing and gives us that player that can defend good players, help rebound and go inside and out.”

The cream of the crop for LBSU may be the signing of 5-foot-7 point guard Loren “Cristian” Jackson, a Chicago native that plays for Victory Rock Prep out of Florida. The little floor general, which modeled his game after Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul, is averaging 31 points and 8 assists per game and had an offer from Oklahoma State. His relationship with Monson ended up being the deciding factor on his commitment.

“Coach Monson really pushed me a lot on wanting to coach me and I felt like he was there for me therefore I knew I could trust him as a coach and father off the court while I’m away from my own,” Loren Jackson said. “I knew LBSU was a great fit for me.”

Coach Monson has a history of coaching small guards, including current starter Justin Bibbins. He was not deterred at all by Jackson’s size and saw Loren as too good to pass up.

“Well, I had an undersized guard [Quentin Hall] take me to the elite eight in 1999 at Gonzaga, and I feel like with the point guard position that size isn’t really a factor as much as they run the team,” Monson said. “I’d much rather have a 5-foot-7 guy that can run your team than a 6-foot-4 who doesn’t have a feel for how the team needs to be run. Justin Bibbins is one of the top assists to turnovers guys in the NCAA and I think that Jackson can follow in those footsteps.

We feel good about the future with these guys.”

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