NCAA grants immediate eligibility to UCSB’s transfer from Temple
UCSB coach Joe Pasternack has never seen a player accelerate on a basketball court as quickly as newcomer Josh Pierre-Louis.
That’s now true off the court, as well.
The NCAA has granted Pierre-Louis, a 6-foot-4 sophomore transfer from Temple University, immediate eligibility to play for the Gauchos this season. Temple also signed off on his petition for a redshirt waiver.
“It’s good for us and for him, too, especially since this year won’t even count against him,” Pasternack said. “He’s an outstanding athlete and someone that is just going to get better and better at practice, every single day.”
The NCAA, recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic has created a tenuous landscape for sports, has ruled that this season won’t count against an athlete’s eligibility.
“It’s a free year for everybody,” said Pasternack, who’s had 13 games canceled that were either on his original nonconference schedule or were added as replacement contests.
The Gauchos, who expect to open their season at home on Sunday at 4 p.m. against Saint Katherine’s, are still trying to add games. The only other set contests before Big West Conference play are at Loyola Marymount on Dec. 12, at Pepperdine on Dec 19, and at home against San Diego Christian on Dec. 21.
UCSB will open its league season at home against UC Irvine with back-to-back games on Dec. 27 and 28. Spectators are not allowed for at least the first part of the season.
Pierre-Louis was highly recruited out of Roselle Catholic High, having led the Lions to the New Jersey State final as a junior and to a No. 17 national ranking as a senior. He originally committed to UNLV, turning down offers from such schools as Georgia and Oklahoma State, but then joined his brother Nate at Temple when the Runnin’ Rebels fired their coach.
“Josh is one of the most elite athletes I’ve ever coached,” Pasternack said. “He’s definitely different in that aspect and he plays really hard. He’s a tough kid and a good kid, too.
“He’s still really young — just 19 years old — so he’s got a long way to go. But fortunately for him and us, the sky is the limit over the next couple of years.”
He had several big games for Temple last year as a freshman reserve. He led the Owls to a 70-61 win over USC by making 5-of-11 shots including a pair of three-pointers in a 15-point, three-assist and three-steals performance.
He also made a trio of threes in the second half against SMU to help Temple turn a 19-point deficit into a 97-90 victory. He shot 37.8% from three for the season.
Pierre-Louis decided to leave Temple after his brother declared for the NBA Draft. Their father, Frantz Pierre-Louis, was inducted into the Wagner University Hall of Fame after a stellar Division 1 basketball career, which included averages of 19.6 points and 7.9 rebounds during his senior season. He played professionally in Turkey, South Korea, Spain and Italy.
“Josh is an incredible offensive rebounder,” Pasternack said. “His acceleration with the ball in his hands and his lateral quickness are also something I haven’t seen before in a basketball player. He’s unbelievably explosive.
“With all that being said, there are specific details of his game that have to be defined. That’s just because of his age. But his raw talent is tremendous.”
The addition of Pierre-Louis to the active roster gives Pasternack a dozen scholarship players with the ability to play prominent roles: returning all-leaguers Amadou Sow and JaQuori McLaughlin; returning starter Devearl Ramsey; returning rotation reserves Robinson Idehen, Brandon Cyrus, Jay Nagle, and Sékou Touré; returning redshirt Jakov Kukic, and highly regarded transfers Ajare Sanni, Destin Barnes, and Miles Norris.
Another player — 6-2 junior Calvin Wishart — is practicing with the team as a redshirt after having transferred from Georgia Southern.
“These are the most competitive practices we’ve ever had, and I think it’s improving our team every day,” Pasternack said. “And Josh fits in well with that.”
The roster depth becomes especially important after the Big West responded to the coronavirus by scheduling league games on back-to-back nights.
“I’ve been guilty of playing guys too many minutes, I’ll be the first to admit that, but I won’t be doing that with so many more players at our disposal,” Pasternack said. “We just have some really great, high-character guys who are competing every day.
“Each and every one of them is really bringing it. Jay Nagle, for instance. He’s gotten a lot bigger and stronger during the summer, and he needed to. He’s versatile and really shooting the ball well, and broadening his game.”
The Gauchos are ripe for competition, he added.
“We’re living day-by-day now, getting tested (for the coronavirus) three times a week, so we are grateful to be able to be practicing right now,” he said. “But they are definitely ready to stop beating on each other and start beating on somebody else.
“It’ll be good to play a different color uniform.”