In a month, Cody Doolin will walk in graduation ceremonies at the University of San Francisco, depart with his degree in finance and transition to the next phase of his life.
It all sounds routine. But there is an odd twist to the story.
“I’m just trying to put the past behind me and move on,” he said, “and that’s all I really want to say about it.”
Doolin expected his college basketball career to be finished by now. But the next chapter is just beginning, and his next move is to UNLV, where the graduate transfer will join three incoming freshmen to form one of the nation’s top recruiting classes.
While high school seniors are inking letters of intent on today’s opening of the spring signing period, Doolin will be signing a scholarship agreement to play for the Rebels in the 2014-15 season. In the fall, he probably will be the team’s starting point guard.
In three-plus seasons at San Francisco, the 6-foot-2-inch Doolin started all 103 games of his career and was a standout in the West Coast Conference. But then came the odd twist.
In late November, after the Dons’ fourth game of the season, Doolin left the team for personal reasons and opted to forgo the remainder of his senior year. He still prefers not to talk about why he left.
According to a San Jose Mercury News story, Doolin and teammate Tim Derksen, a sophomore guard, got tangled in a brief scuffle during a Nov. 19 practice. San Francisco coach Rex Walters gathered the players and coaches in a circle around Doolin and Derksen, and according to an unnamed source, a “boxing match” ensued.
The report stated neither player was hurt during a fight that lasted about 30 seconds.
Three days later, Doolin decided to leave the team and made a trip home to Austin, Texas, where he attended Westlake High School. At that point, he was unsure if he wanted to continue his basketball career.
“I just took a little time off and came to the realization I wanted to play another year and write a different ending to my story,” Doolin said after a Monday night class on the San Francisco campus.
“It is kind of odd, that’s kind of the best way to describe it. I’m just putting it in my past.”
UNLV is in the process of submitting a waiver on Doolin’s behalf to the NCAA, which must grant him eligibility. It is anticipated Doolin will be cleared to play, and he probably will start at point guard for a team getting a roster makeover after a 20-13 season.
His relationship with coach Dave Rice led him to commit to the Rebels on Feb. 21. Doolin is completing his final two classes at San Francisco and plans to enroll in summer school at UNLV in early June.
“After I decided not to play anymore, Coach Rice was the first person to call me,” Doolin said. “He was just fantastic. He made me feel real comfortable. It seemed like the perfect fit for me.
“He didn’t guarantee me anything. Obviously, there’s a pretty rich history with UNLV basketball. I just know there’s a lot of really good players there, and I want to come in and try to help the team win.”
Rice cannot comment on Doolin until his scholarship agreement is signed. Findlay Prep shooting guard Rashad Vaughn, a McDonald’s All-American who committed to the Rebels on Feb. 11, is set to sign today, too.
Dwayne Morgan, a 6-7 forward from Baltimore, and Goodluck Okonoboh, a 6-9 forward from Wilbraham, Mass., each signed a letter of intent in the fall. The recruiting class Rice has put together is perhaps UNLV’s most impressive since the late 1980s.
The Rebels are awaiting a key decision from junior forward Khem Birch, who is considering entering the NBA Draft.
“I hope he stays,” Doolin said of Birch. “We’re going to have some athletes next year with the great players coming in and a lot of really good returning players, and hopefully it’s going to be a fantastic year. I think we can do some damage for sure.”
Doolin, the Dons’ team captain and an honor student, is regarded as a strong leader and distributor at the point, but he also can score. In his third game as a senior, he had a career-high 33 points in a 92-90 loss to UNR, which featured an NBA prospect in senior point guard Deonte Burton.
As a junior, Doolin averaged 12.2 points and 5.6 assists, and he ranks No. 2 all time at San Francisco with 451 assists.
“I’m really excited about playing basketball again,” he said.
x NOTES — UNLV is expected to announce the hiring of assistant coach Ryan Miller, a former Auburn and New Mexico assistant, by the end of the week. … Max Good, the Rebels’ interim coach for 22 games during the 2000-01 season, is one of the top candidates to be the special assistant to the head coach, a position Rice plans to create this summer. Good was recently fired as the coach at Loyola Marymount.
Contact reporter Matt Youmans at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2907. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.