This is a deeply personal recount of a young man’s basketball and life journey. Garland Judkins is one of my favorite players to have ever worn a Texas D-1 Ambassadors uniform. He doesn’t mind me telling it, and hopes that it’s an inspiration and a guiding light for other young players.
The last year has been a humbling time in the life of young Garland Judkins. After starting several games as a true freshman during the 2008-2009 season on an NCAA Sweet 16 Pac-10 powerhouse Arizona Wildcats team that featured two NBA Draft picks (Chase Budinger & Jordan Hill), Judkins found himself relegated to the bench in what became a frustrating season.
Fast forward to 2009-2010 and with new Coach Sean Miller coming over from Xavier to coach the Wildcats, Judkins was optimistic that he’d get a fresh start. However, things just never fell into place as the new staff had their own ideas as to who “their guys” were and Judkins wasn’t one of them. (This is a great lesson for young players who sign with schools where there’s a high likelihood of a staff change).
Arizona Coach Miller called me this past Christmas and communicated with me that Garland would be in a better spot elsewhere and asked me to assist him in a transfer. We did that, and Judkins was excited about heading to UT-San Antonio and being closer to his home in suburban Houston (Angleton, TX). It had been a tough fall for Garland though as his grandfather passed away last fall and his Pops Garland Jukins Sr. was ill, and when UTSA evaluated his transcript it had fallen below the magical 2.0 line, rendering him ineligible for D1 transfer.
To Garland’s credit, he went home to Houston and began taking online courses. The UTSA staff assumed he would not get eligible and they moved along, signing all 8 of their available scholarships. To add to the challenges, Garland lost his beloved father in late June of this year. After a long illness he suffered renal failure and went home to our Lord Jesus Christ leaving behind Beverly Judkins and her only son.
Garland has boundless energy on the court, and showed the same great relience off the court with all the challenges he’s recently faced. He completed several online courses over the spring and summer and once again is eligible for D1 basketball! The next step was to head to Jerry Mullin’s “Availables” event in Tulsa, OK. Judkins was head and shoulders the best player there. He quickly received interest from Boise State, North Texas, Cal-Riverside, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and an unnamed Big XII school who were (still are) waiting to see if one of their signees was going to get through the NCAA Clearinghouse.
A lot of history, I know. But today Garland texted me during his official visit with his mother to the beautiful Texas A&M-Corpus Christi campus and told me he really like the environment and the coaches. I sat in my hotel room with my son, Chip and cried tears of joy for this young man. The world of NCAA recruiting is a tough, no holds barred business that swallows up more than it’s share of kids. I am so happy that Garland Judkins will not be one of those.
Judkins is an explosive high level athlete that can get to the rim and will mash on you when he does. A streaky shooter, you still have to respect his perimeter game. Judkins can defend and handles the ball well, especially when he’s pushing upcourt a la Clyde “The Glide” Drexler. I full expect Judkins to be an All Conference player in the Southland Conference. He’ll be one of a handful of elite athlets in the SLC and should prosper playing for veteran Coach Perry Clark (prior stops at Tulane & Miami) You can look for him to fill the shoes of recently departed Kevin Palmer as the Big Dog in Corpus Christi before his career is over.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi will petition the NCAA for a hardship waiver to be able to play immediately and perhaps even to have 3 years eligibility remaining. I had a chance to be interviewed by an NCAA investigator last summer in Kansas City. He asked me what I thought they could do to make college basketball a better game for the kids. Amongst the topics we touched on was getting AAU guys who are friendly with agents (along with the agents themselves) away from the kids.
However, I feel it’s more simple than that. Just err in favor of the kids. This is a young man that deserves his waiver. He’s endured the passing of a father & a grandfather. He did not ask for 3 coaches in a tumultuous year when he went to Arizona. The legendary Lute Olson absolutely loved Garland’s game. Who knows how this would have turned out if Coach Olson was still in the Head Seat with the Wildcats?
Coach Max Ivany