During the eight-hour drive from Baltimore to Cincinnati, City College forward Jordan Latham drifted in and out of sleep, talking occasionally about his upcoming trip.
Latham was riding to Xavier University for an unofficial visit with his parents, Orlando and Rhonda Latham, brothers Orlando Jr., and Myles, and City assistant Phil Hahn. Along the way, there was some discussion of whether the 6-foot-8, 220-pounder would commit to the Musketeers.
"It was a 50/50 thing," Latham said. "At the time, I knew I really wanted to [commit], but I was going to hold back on committing. But as I went there, I really had a close relationship with [Xavier head coach Sean Miller], and all I had to do was see how I liked the campus. So I [thought I] might as well commit. It's a good program and a good fit for me."
Latham pledged to the Musketeers on Sunday, picking XU over Oregon State, Penn State, Richmond and Virginia Tech.
On the trip, Latham met with academic advisors, toured the campus, watched a practice and spoke with the coaching staff, athletic director and several players. He committed before driving back to Baltimore.
Latham, who averaged approximately eight points, eight rebounds and five blocks per game as a sophomore, was comforted by the 10-year contract extension signed by Miller last spring. Latham said Miller and assistant coach Emanuel Richardson reminded him of the staff at City.
"Both of them are similar to my high school coaches now, coach Mike Daniel and Tony Biggers," Latham said. "[With Richardson and] coach Bigg, I can really talk to them about anything. ... Coach Miller, he sounds like coach Mike. He's real easy-going. He likes to win. I also talk to him about anything. He was real excited that I was interested in the school. That made it all the better."
Latham said he's excited to join a program that has reached three straight NCAA tournaments and won back-to-back Atlantic 10 regular-season championships. The No. 3-seeded Musketeers made it to the Elite Eight last season, knocking off Georgia, Purdue and West Virginia before falling to No. 1-seed UCLA in the West Region final.
Before Latham returned to Baltimore on Sunday, word had spread of his commitment.
"A lot of people already knew that I committed," Latham said. "My parents called a lot of people from the city to tell them I committed. Everybody [at school] was real excited because [City small forward] C.J. Fair had committed to Syracuse. By me committing, it was a real big thing."
Latham said he probably won't make it back to Cincinnati this year, but hopes to catch the Musketeers on the road at St. Joseph's or Richmond. Latham said he'll use his two remaining seasons of high school basketball to prepare for his eventual arrival at XU.
"I think they can expect a real nice player," Latham said. "By the time I get there, I should be much more explosive. My jump shot should be a lot better. I'll be a real nice player they can watch and cheer for. I think I'll be a real good fit for the program."
Baltimore Sun photo of Jordan Latham by Gene Sweeney Jr. / Jan. 19, 2008