Published Monday, May 3, 2010 | 11:20 a.m.
Updated Monday, May 3, 2010 | 6:30 p.m.
Just over a week after their No. 1 option for a point guard in the 2010 senior class fell through, so did UNLV's No. 2.
Bishop Gorman senior Johnathan Loyd, roughly 12 hours after returning from a visit to Eugene, Ore., has committed to Oregon and new coach Dana Altman.
A source close to the situation confirmed the commitment to the Sun on Monday morning. A couple of hours later, his signed letter of intent was faxed to Altman.
"He was one of the top point guards available, and because we had a familiarity with him, that's the first place we went," Altman told the Eugene Register Guard. "We really felt like we needed some ball handling and some guard depth. We feel like Johnathan with his quickness and athleticism will help us fill that void."
Loyd received offers last Sunday from his two dream schools — Oregon and UNLV — and will now have a chance to play right away for the Ducks, whose roster took a hit thanks to both graduation and transfers following the firing of long-time coach Ernie Kent and his staff.
UNLV came through with an offer after Findlay Prep guard Cory Joseph ended his lengthy recruitment by committing to Texas on April 23.
Following the departure of senior-to-be Matt Shaw from the program last week on the heels of a failed drug test administered at the NCAA tournament, the Rebels still have one open scholarship for next season.
"He just said everything went well, he really was comfortable with the coaching staff, really liked the facilities up there and was excited to play in the Pac-10," Bishop Gorman coach Grant Rice said of Loyd's visit. "He was just excited and ready for a fresh start with essentially a new program, because they have a new coach and he knows that he's going to go in and be a big part of that process right away."
Altman said on Monday that he envisions Loyd not only potentially sharing playing time with junior point guard Malcolm Armstead, but also being on the floor at the same time as the Ducks' 5-foot-10 returning point guard, who averaged 10.3 points and 4.3 assists a game last season for an underachieving 16-16 club.
"They said I'd have to come in and work and the opportunity was there, but nothing would be handed to me," Loyd said Monday night, reflecting on the trip. "Sunday, late at night, I talked to my dad. We talked about all of the factors and everything, what Oregon was like. He felt like it was a good situation, so did I."
In the end, on the UNLV side, a lot of missing out on Loyd simply came down to timing.
According to Rice, Rebels coach Lon Kruger was very honest with Loyd all along in telling him that Joseph was the staff's top target, but that their eyes were also on the 5-foot-8 dynamo who would go on to earn Gatorade state Player of the Year honors by averaging 14 points and 8.3 assists a contest.
Loyd earned a reputation as simply being a winner, regardless of size, as he led the Gaels to back-to-back large-school state titles and won 103 games in his four years of varsity ball.
The offers gradually came in as his senior season wore on, and outside of UNLV and Oregon, they included — to name a few — Michigan State, Florida, Oklahoma, Washington State, Northwestern and George Washington.
He was all set to choose between his two original finalists — Northwestern and George Washington — before UNLV and Oregon came calling.
Of course, Altman had long been trying to get into the Loyd sweepstakes while at Creighton, and though Loyd liked Altman, he told him he was wanting to play in a "bigger conference."
In the end, saying no to UNLV was not easy for Loyd, whose father — Michael Sr. — played for Jerry Tarkanian as a Rebel from 1978-81.
"It's a Catch 22," Rice said. "His dream has always been to play for UNLV, that was the school he always wanted to play for. Growing up, he probably went to 75 percent of their games, including this year.
"It was just a timing thing, and it's no one's fault. It's not UNLV's fault. They had to do what they had to do. Who wouldn't go after Cory Joseph? If (the offer) would have happened two or three days earlier, or if Altman gets the (Oregon) job this week instead of last week, he might have already been a Rebel. I think everything happens for a reason."