By late October Elijah Long knew where he was going to college. But by the time he graduated from John Carroll this spring, he was back to square one.
Long, a 6-foot, 182-pound point guard from suburban Toronto, had re-opened his recruitment in April, mutually parting ways with Florida Gulf Coast for a variety of reasons. Junior college, a prep year, or another four-year university in the U.S. or Canada were all potential options.
“I was confused,” Long said. “It wasn’t like I was scared of anything. I just didn’t know what was going to happen in the future.”
Enter Mount St. Mary’s coach Jamion Christian, who offered Long a scholarship last month. The former Patriots star accepted the offer last week.
“It feels good,” Long said. “It feels like a weight’s off my shoulders. Now I don’t have to worry about what school I’m going to anymore.”
Long, who played AAU for the Nike-sponsored Canadian team CIA Bounce, heard from a number of Division I schools after he went back on the market. DePaul and Old Dominion were among the interested parties. But the Mountaineers, Long said, recruited him hardest.
Long didn’t know much about the Mount when Christian reached out to him, but he did his homework, discovered that the school made the NCAA tournament in 2014, and found that he loved the style of play. The Mountaineers’ up-tempo, guard-oriented system played to Long’s strengths as a pass-first point guard who can hit the 3.
“They play like Florida Gulf Coast,” he said. “They play fast, a lot of guard movement, a lot of ball screens. … They run a lot of four-guard sets, one big. They like guards that can pass and create and score like me.”
In addition to Mount St. Mary’s style of play, Long said the school also had an edge over others thanks to his relationship with Christian. The 33-year-old coach is a Mount grad and former three-time team captain.
“He’s cool,” Long said. “He connected with me. Other coaches are just like managers, but he’s cool. He didn’t have any arrogance or ego. He’s just kicking it with me like everyone else. That really helped the commitment.”
Long, whose older brother, Naz, plays for Iowa State, always assumed that he’d play college basketball in the U.S., as opposed to returning home to Canada. But ending up at a university less than two hours away from John Carroll turned out to be a happy surprise.
“I never knew for a second I was going to stay in Maryland to go to school,” he said. “Everything happens for a reason. It’s close to my high school. It’s a good thing.”