New Tulane basketball coach Mike Dunleavy’s NBA pedigree has paid off in a notable transfer with New Orleans roots.
Former Brother Martin star Jordan Cornish, a 6-foot-6 guard who spent the Past two years at UNLV, confirmed Friday he had been accepted into school and will play for Tulane. After sitting out the 2016-17 season under NCAA rules, he will have two years of eligibility left.
Cornish, rated a 3-star recruit in 2014 by 247Sports, averaged 5.5 points for the Rebels as a freshman and 6.2 points as a sophomore.
“I wanted to find a place where I could come in with a good coaching staff, learn, really expand my game and take it to the next level,” Cornish said. “I absolutely think I can do that with coach Dunleavy and his staff. He’s an NBA guy and he knows what it takes. He made out a blueprint for me, and I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”
Cornish also is looking for stability he had not experienced in college. He signed with Tennessee originally but obtained a release before he arrived in Knoxville after then-Volunteers coach Cuonzo Martin left for California. UNLV fired coach Dave Rice in January at midseason, and his announced successor, Chris Beard, bolted for Texas Tech a week after agreeing to coach the Rebels.
Tulane initially was not on Cornish’ list of finalists when he decided to transfer from UNLV. He said he would reunite with Martin at California first but changed his mind and had Iowa State, Purdue, Butler and Grand Canyon at the top of the list.
One phone call from Dunleavy in mid-May changed everything. Cornish visited Tulane and heard the full recruiting pitch from Dunleavy, who coached the Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee, Portland and the Los Angeles Clippers over two decades in the NBA.
“Coming out of high school, I wouldn’t even blink my eye at the thought of coming to Tulane,” Cornish said. “But with coach Dunleavy being here and his staff, you can feel the changes already. He is going to change the program (180 degrees).”
UNLV used Cornish at point guard this season for the first time in his career. He started seven times while averaging 21.6 minutes, but his shooting percentage plummeted. After hitting 48.7 percent of his 3-pointers (38 for 78) as a freshman, he made only 30.1 percent and shot 35.4 percent overall.
“I’m a guy that can play all three positions — point guard, shooting guard and wing,” he said. “I like getting other guys involved. I’m a very unselfish player.”
Brother Martin coach Chris Biehl said Cornish is capable of scoring 25 to 30 points as a knockdown shooter on any given night.
“Both for Jordan and the Tulane program, I’m really excited,” Biehl said. “Coach Dunleavy has so much NBA experience, and ultimately that’s where Jordan wants to be one day. I couldn’t think of a better person for him to play for to get him there. Jordan can be a perfect piece of the puzzle and really help them out on the offensive end.”
Cornish joins Vanderbilt transfer Samir Sehic, a power forward, as Tulane additions.
Power forward Taron Oliver, who averaged 2.1 points in a limited role as a freshman, recently tweeted he was leaving Tulane.
The Green Wave has 10 players on scholarship, three under the NCAA limit.