Old-school forward Daniel Rouzan commits to Weber State basketball after arduous recruiting journey
For a player whose recruitment restarted multiple times, Daniel Rouzan is happy with where he’s ending up.
The 6-foot-9 Las Vegas native committed to Weber State men’s basketball this week, which he announced publicly Thursday afternoon, to complete WSU’s 2022 recruiting class.
After a long process disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which involved moving twice and seeing college coaches drift away several times, Rouzan’s courtship with Weber State was swift.
“Weber heard about me just a couple weeks ago and it was just kind of like a done deal from there,” Rouzan said.
The Wildcats are getting an old-school post player with soft hands and plenty of strength, he says — someone who can stretch the floor and impact the game with vision and passing, but someone who definitely puts his back to the basket and gets buckets.
That much jumps out in any highlight tape he’s in.
He expounded on that just after watching 6-foot-7 Kenneth Lofton Jr. go to battle with No. 2 draft pick and 7-footer Chet Holmgren in an NBA Summer League game (Lofton totaled 19 points and six rebounds) as an example of where Rouzan fits in the current game.
“The more the game has spread out and leaves physicality, people forget how to guard it,” Rouzan said. “So with the game stretching out the perimeter, which is also something I can do, I feel like my main play style is still effective in today’s game. Especially if you can pass.”
He emulates NBA players like Zach Randolph and DeMarcus Cousins — the latter with whom he trained for a little more than a month last summer. As Cousins was rehabbing from injuries as a free agent last summer, he ended up in Las Vegas where Rouzan was.
Cousins had connected with a trainer who also works with the Vegas Elite AAU team, where Rouzan played in the summer of 2021.
“The trainer told me one day to come to a workout, I showed up and DeMarcus Cousins was there. I introduced myself, we ran a couple two-on-twos, three-on-threes, and we went back and forth a little bit. It was good to see someone I could look up to and I’ve always looked up to in the pros, and be able to train with him was cool. It was surreal,” Rouzan said. “That really took me to another level in my game that I don’t know I would’ve got to without him.”
That was just one part of a back-and-forth journey to land on a college roster.
Things were looking up for Rouzan a few years ago while attending Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas. He was named to the West nominee list for the McDonald’s All-American games with the likes of Paolo Banchero and Jaden Hardy. He had teams like USC, Washington State, Fresno State, Duquesne and more planning to come see him play.
But as the world emerged from the onset of the current pandemic heading into the 2020-21 school year, Nevada’s Clark County canceled winter sports, including basketball, for that season. It was one of the few places in the country that did not stage basketball seasons for 2020-21.
That was the first restart.
“I reached out to those schools to see how they wanted to do my recruiting and they basically just said we’re filling spots right now, if we can help you let us know, but we’re looking in other directions,” Rouzan said. “It kind of ruined it all for me and my recruitment process started all the way over, from square one.”
To get on the court for his senior high school season, he had to move. He had some discussions with Utah’s renowned basketball machine Wasatch Academy but ultimately, he and his parents decided his best fit was at Balboa Prep in San Diego.
After the season in San Diego, Rouzan played with Vegas Elite and started drawing interest from college coaches again. That included some of the previous suitors, along with New Mexico State, UC San Diego and others. It also brought official offers from Western Illinois and particularly Stephen F. Austin — his father, Javan Rouzan, played at SFA before a 15-year pro career in Europe and China.
But come the early signing period in November 2021, several of those schools pushed him to sign. Rouzan stuck to his plan, which was to make his college decision this spring, and found himself getting cold shoulders again.
That was the second restart.
“It was kind of disheartening because I felt like I was a lot better now than I was back then. So for those schools to drop out of my recruitment, it got to me mentally,” he said. “But after jumping those hurdles and realizing I’ve got to control what I can control, I just continued to work harder and it ended up working out in the end. I wouldn’t change it, because it made me become a better player.”
He had already enrolled at a post-high school academy, the Academy of Sports Science in Corona, California, where he played the 2021-22 high school season. And he connected with Claudell Select’s AAU team in California this spring to try and get exposure to as many college coaches as he could.
Rouzan said he recently took a recruiting visit to Pacific and had one scheduled for UC Irvine. But once he got on the radars of WSU assistants Eric Daniels and Dan Russell, things happened quickly.
He’s canceled the latter visit having committed to Weber State, where he will arrive for the first time this weekend to join summer workouts.
“Of everyone I’ve talked to this whole time, Weber State is like top three or top two of schools who have recruited me. They’re a winning program, they’ve had several NBA players in the last 10 years, a bunch of pro contracts in the last year,” Rouzan said. “The coaches have been around, the new head coach has seen it all. I feel like they know what they’re doing and that it’s a good fit for me, especially how they want to use me.”
How they want to use Rouzan is a mix of doing what he does — putting guys on his back and scoring — and using his skills as he filters around the floor with screens, dribble hand-offs, pick-and-pop shooting and more.
“I’m going to do what I do, but they’re going to take me out of my comfort zone a little bit. But it’s nothing I’m not ready for,” Rouzan said. “I’m just going in there to be a sponge, listen to what everyone has to say and try to get my game to the next level.”
He’ll arrive in Utah soon, hoping to learn more about the outdoor recreation scene off the court, and hoping to contribute on the court immediately.
“Can’t wait to get to Ogden,” he said. “There should be a lot to talk about once the season starts.”
Rouzan’s commitment finalizes Weber State’s roster of 13 scholarship players for the 2022-23 season and is the second commitment this week, joining senior graduate transfer guard Junior Ballard of Fresno State.
Here’s a look at how WSU’s roster of scholarship players shapes up, organized by class. The Wildcats will have nine of 13 players as sophomores or freshmen, though three of the four sophomores will be in their third season of college basketball due to the free year of eligibility provided by COVID-19. Both seniors — Ballard and Zahir Porter — are in their fifth season of competition.
SENIORS: Junior Ballard (guard), Zahir Porter (guard/wing)
JUNIORS: KJ Cunningham (guard), Steven Verplancken Jr. (guard)
SOPHOMORES: Keith Dinwiddie Jr. (guard) Dillon Jones (wing/forward), Dyson Koehler (wing/forward), Alex Tew (center)
FRESHMEN: Chris Dockery (wing), Louie Jordan (wing/forward), JJ Louden (guard), Daniel Rouzan (forward), Handje Tamba (center)