Defensive-minded guard JJ Louden commits to Weber State men’s basketball
JJ Louden’s path to his momentous Monday is probably similar to many high school seniors trying to land spots on a college team, especially on a Division I roster.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made that path an unsure one but, through time, Louden found his way to what he sees as the right place.
Louden, a 6-foot-5 point guard from Indianapolis, Indiana, announced his commitment to Weber State men’s basketball on Monday afternoon, giving the Wildcats their second pledge of the 2022 class.
“I do feel like I’m an underrated player, but I’m very thankful how everything played out and where I’m going,” Louden told the Standard-Examiner. “It’s all part of God’s plan and I’m thankful for the opportunity I’ve been given.”
Louden said by the time interest finally hit full speed over the past three or so months — something that was close to life before 2020 — Weber State and Utah were the most serious about his recruitment, with UNLV showing warm interest as well. Officially, his other offers came from IUPUI and Canisius.
Louden — formally John Louden Jr. — didn’t get to finish his sophomore season at Pike High School in Indianapolis due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, something that also canceled that summer’s AAU circuit nationwide in 2020. Recruitment of prep players his age, he said, virtually stopped. Then a hand injury kept him out of summer ball action again, forcing him to miss the top recruiting evaluation periods of 2021.
“Times were rough but my mom, my dad, they kept me motivated to keep working, God’s got me and when my time comes, I’ve got to take advantage of it,” he said. “So I just stayed in the gym, kept working and now I am where I am.”
Aiming for fresh exposure, he and his father lined up an opportunity to play at Desert Valley Prep in Las Vegas for his senior season, a squad that spent plenty of time traveling for games in California, Arizona and Utah.
It worked. Louden averaged 17 points, 12 assists and six rebounds per game, according to his father (official stats for academy-type squads are sometimes hard to come by online), and he heard from the likes of Cincinnati, Cal, San Diego State, New Mexico State and a few others from around the west.
On the court, Louden said the change of scenery helped his game develop after playing against what he characterized as bigger, more deliberate players in the Midwest.
“It sped up my game and I gained a lot of confidence,” he said. “Out there on the West Coast, everybody’s super athletic, super fast. So just seeing that change in the game helped a lot.”
About two months ago, Weber State associate head coach Eric Duft reached out and told Louden he liked his game. His height and wingspan stand out on the defensive end, and he said he tries to play an all-around game. His father compares his game to that of Jrue Holiday.
“The Indianapolis, Indiana product is going to be a steal for any school that lands his services,” @LGreenwellHoops tweeted about Louden on April 1. “6’5 PG that loves to disrupt on the defensive end with his length.”
In September 2021, known Western recruiting hoops figure Christian PoP’oola tweeted that Louden is an “elite passer, high IQ, defensive minded playmaker who loves getting his teammates involved.”
Soon after Duft, other WSU coaches were in touch and, a couple weeks ago, he and his family traveled to Ogden for an official visit — something recruits are doing for the first time since 2019.
“The way they treated me and my family on the visit, it was unbelievable. They treated us like we were already part of the program. We loved the atmosphere out there,” Louden said.
Though in conversations with places like Utah and UNLV, Louden said Weber State made the most sense and, with advice from his high school coach Ty Lofton to find the right fit, he had made up his mind.
Louden joins Las Vegas native Chris Dockery, a 6-foot-6 freshman wing, as Weber State commitments for the 2022 class. The Wildcats have five more scholarships available and are targeting several experienced Division I transfers, as well as holding hope for an upset victory in the recruiting battle for 6-foot-10 prep forward Jorge Diaz of Florida’s renowned IMG Academy.