Two months ago Christian High junior Vander Joaquim — one of the top junior basketball recruits in the state — gave the University of San Diego an oral commitment to play for the Toreros in the 2009-2010 season.

This was before USD won the West Coast Conference Tournament to advance to the NCAA Tournament, upset Connecticut in the first round and head coach Bill Grier was mentioned as possibly Oregon State’s next head coach.

The commitment also came just before schools such as UCLA began to apply recruiting pressure on the 6-foot-9, 210-pound forward, who played his first season here after arriving from Angola.

USD has to sweat out the wait until the official signing period in November now that the word is out on Joaquim. But Joaquim said even if Grier had left for Oregon State instead of announcing he’s staying with USD, it probably wouldn’t have changed his commitment.

“Coach Grier is a good coach, and I’m glad he’s staying,” Joaquim said. “But I also like USD because it’s a great school in a beautiful city.”

Christian’s coach Kelvin Starr fully expects Joaquim to attract offers from major programs. That would make him the biggest recruit in the history of USD’s program and a major coupe for Grier to keep him home when UCLA’s of the world want him.

“He’s a little naïve to the recruiting game since he’s new to this country, but he really loves San Diego,” Starr said. “He’s a very talented player, and he’s only going to get better.”

— TOM SHANAHAN

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