When Jordan Latham decided to leave Xavier after his freshman season, the former City power forward quickly zeroed in on several East Coast programs as potential transfer destinations.
"I visited all the local schools, including Delaware, Towson, Loyola, and I also visited Morgan State University," said Latham, who appeared in 16 games for the Musketeers this season. "What I did was weigh the pros and cons against each other. Loyola was the best for me."
Latham, who committed to the Greyhounds on Monday night, averaged just 4.8 minutes and scored eight points in his lone season in Cincinnati. But the former Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection showed enough promise coming out of high school to earn a four-star ranking from Scout.com and designation as the country's 20th-best power forward in the 2010 class.
Loyola didn't seriously recruit Latham – a consensus high-major prospect – the first time around. But Greyhounds coach Jimmy Patsos and assistant coach Luke D'Alessio made him a top priority as soon as he was granted his release from Xavier."I think [Patsos] was really excited and really wanted me back home," Latham said. "On my official visit they treated me real good and everything like that. … I would say all the coaches that I came in contact with for each school was really nice, really wanted me real bad and everything like that. But Loyola had a nice little sales pitch, [it's a] real nice small school, the program is really coming up and it's going to explode soon. It's going to be real big things in the next couple years."
Latham isn't the first high-major transfer that has resurfaced at Reitz Arena during Patsos' tenure. Andre Collins left Maryland to become one of the country's most prolific scorers at Loyola. Gerald Brown traded the bright lights of the Big East at Providence to become one of the Greyhounds' all-time greats.
"All those guys did very well at Loyola and [Collins and Brown have done] big things overseas," Latham said. "That's a real good thing for a kid coming back home and having the opportunity to play basketball here. It's a good opportunity [to showcase your talent] for overseas. That's a real good thing."
More recently, Shane Walker left Maryland after his freshman year in College Park, and has since emerged as the Greyhounds' stalwart center for the past two seasons. Walker will be a senior next season and Latham will redshirt, opening the door for ample time for the former Knight during the 2012-13 season.
"I would say I'm going to step in and fill some big shoes," Latham said. "[Walker] might be the player of the year in the MAAC. So that's real big shoes to fill."
City assistant coach Tony Biggers said playing for Loyola should be a "great situation" for Latham. With a strong supporting cast and a coaching staff that knows Latham "very well," Biggers thinks his former star could "possibly be a Player of the Year" candidate in the MAAC before his time with the Greyhounds is done.
"I think they're getting an extremely good addition to the program," Biggers said. "He's going to be a guy who can come in and make an impact right away. He has different facets to this game – inside, outside, passing the ball well. He's an unselfish player. He not only brings maturity for basketball, but also great chemistry to the program. It's really like the perfect fit. They've got Shane Walker [now], and by the time he graduates, it's a perfect situation for Jordan to step in his shoes. He should be an impact player for those three years."
"I think that this team right now is going to build something real big as far as Baltimore guys coming back and playing back home," Latham said. "It's OK to play back home. It's a real good fit for the area."
Latham said he has no regrets about his year in Cincinnati. One positive he sees is the experience he got playing for an NCAA tournament team. He hopes to draw on that at Loyola.
"It takes a lot to get to the NCAA tournament," Latham said. "This conference is not a bad conference at all. It's very competitive, but at the same time, we just have to work hard and get real hot during tournament time and can get their every year. I think we should be good. … [I just need to] work hard and play as hard as I can each and every game and hopefully get to the NCAA tournament at least two times over my next three years."
Baltimore Sun photo of Jordan Latham by Jeffrey F. Bill / March 18, 2010