Jordan Farmar (with an 'a'... not "Farmer") is a rather atypical recruiting story, though a spectacular one. The flashy point guard from Woodland Hills (CA) was a complete unknown in recruiting circles last year as a sophomore, when he sat out and did not play any basketball. He and his family had made the decision to transfer from Birmingham (Lake Balboa, CA) to his current Taft High School, and that necessitated that he sit out a year of hoops. For a kid who is an absolute roundball junkie, that was clearly a tough and thought-out decision.
"It was strictly for academics that I transferred," Farmar explains. "My old high school goofed up some of my classes - AP Chemistry and Algebra II. It was a nightmare."
So he took the pain of not playing ball for a year to pursue a better academic environment for him, and now as a junior he is showing that he didn't miss a step. Indeed, Farmar is tearing up Southern California, forcing recruiting services, college recruiters and high school coaches to scramble and take notes. He is averaging 31 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game - against some pretty stout competition. Just over this holiday break, he and his Taft team traveled to the Modesto Christian tournament and reached the semifinals. Farmar scored some 125 points in his four games, including a nasty 49 against Inglewood.
Jump back to the beginning of the season for some real jaw-droppers, when Farmar opened up with a triple-double of 54 points, 12 rebounds and 11 steals. Game two of his season registered 32 points, 10 boards and 10 steals, while his third game rocked for 41 points, 10 steals, 10 assists and 9 boards - just shy of a quadruple-double. And don't think these are Iverson-like games, where Farmar is taking 35 shots to get 40 points. In that Taft-record 54 point opener, Farmar hit 20 of his 28 shots, including 7-for-11 from beyond the arc. No, this is some very elite play being demonstrated by the 6'2" 165-pound point guard that is sure to elevate him in most rankings to top 50 national status.
One note on these early Taft games is that the team has been short a few players tied up with the football season into mid-December. That includes all-everything wide receiver Steve Smith, a dominating athlete on the hardwood who as of today still has not played in a basketball game this year due to football all-star game commitments. Another Taft player is out with a broken foot, to boot. So Farmar is necessarily being asked to carry the load for his team, and it shows in the stats.
When I first saw Jordan play this past spring on the Double Pump All Stars, in AAU tournament action, my reaction was "spindly." He was lanky and both looked and played young. I took him for a freshman who played with a lot of energy, but needed maturity of mind and body to really improve. But by the end of the summer, I realized this was a rising junior and saw surprising progress in his game. Though still out of control at times, he found ways to make plays both scoring and dishing. One particularly memorable play at the Adidas Big Time tournament in Las Vegas saw him drive into the lane from the perimeter, leap into the air and draw the defense, then bring the ball around his back to dish to a teammate for an open lay-up. Undoubtedly there is a good deal of razzle-dazzle in his game, but he looks like he does what he does to make plays more so than to showboat. Farmar is both quick and aggressive with the ball, and forces defenses to commit when he takes handles it on the perimeter. He has a jump shot out to three-point land, and shows a quick release.
One reason Farmar looks younger than his class might indicate is that he is young. He just turned 16 on November 30 and is a year young for his grade.
Stanford got an early start on Farmar in games this spring and summer, with the added bonus that they were able to watch him and senior power forward Evan Moore, who has already pledged a verbal commitment to play both basketball and football (wide receiver) on The Farm. The Cardinal staff has not let up, and Farmar says that he has seen the coaches at his high school games.
Though by NCAA rules, college coaches cannot call a junior until the completion of his academic school year, Farmar has been calling Stanford and came up for an unofficial visit this past November. Though the school is not allowed to front the expenses they can on an official visit, Stanford still packed the weekend for Farmar and his parents with plenty to do. Farmar reports that they took a tour of the campus, met with professors, watched practice and a scrimmage, talked with players and coaches, and he even went out with the guys to a campus party one night.
But perhaps more important was a discussion with the Stanford coaches, when Farmar's mother asked them just how interested Stanford was in Jordan. According to the younger Farmar, they answered, "We'd like him right now, but have to get him through admissions, and that is going to take some time."
"That cleared up a lot," says Farmar of the frank discussion. "It was important to let me know where I stand."
He also took an unofficial trip to Gonzaga just before his Stanford visit, and those two schools have jumped out into the lead as his top two choices. The Zags have demonstrated a strong record the past couple years with recruits they get their hooks into early, and few have left Spokane without giving a verbal commitment. Though Farmar went into the trip with low expectations, he came away with a different tune.
"I didn't think I'd like a small school, given that I'm used to L.A.," he admits, "but I liked it. Gonzaga and Stanford were complete opposites. Stanford has them in academics, but I need to visit both places again and learn a lot more."
Important factors to Farmar in his final decision will be:
- level of basketball play and competition (says the Pac-10 holds a decided edge over the WCC, which is a real negative about Gonzaga)
- academics (Gonzaga is pushing their business degree)
- will he enjoy himself? (the comfort level and people at each school)
During the fall, he discussed UConn, Kansas, Arizona and the LA schools as other strong interests, but that list has morphed greatly since. Now he says he has little-to-no interest in schools nearby, and Kansas seems to have faded. According to his mother, the family has set the five schools he would like to take his official visits to, and they are: Stanford, Gonzaga, Oregon, Arizona and UConn. No official visits will be taken during the basketball season, as the family is already concerned about the heavy time demands Jordan is balancing with basketball and school.
"Jordan is a serious student," his mother explains, "and we think it is just best to hold off on the visits until after he is done with basketball."