“I don’t know what kicked it off,” Bachynski recalled, “but when I was 12 and my dad talked to me about college basketball and where I wanted to go, I have no idea why but I told him ‘Arizona State.’ From then on I just became a fan. Everytime I saw Arizona State my heart just fluttered. It was awesome.
“I knew about Coach Sendek’s past successes and from what my parents filed me in about him I just know that Arizona State is the place for me without a doubt.”
Jordan Bachynski had a successful high school career in Calgary, Alberta and was regarded as one of the top prep Canadian players at the time. He was set to play at one of the most prestigious high school basketball programs in the United States, Las Vegas’ Findlay Prep, before being sidelined by an ankle injury.
As he was finishing up his high school studies back in Calgary, UNLV, Utah, Utah State and Pepperdine were some of the schools pursuing Bachynski. Despite the warnings he heard from those coaches and others, upon graduating from high school he decided to go on his mission which was served in Miami, Fla.
“It was a hard decision because a lot of coaches told me that if I go on a mission I can forget about basketball,” Bachynski recalled. “But I knew that if I was to put the Lord first in my life I would be able to continue with basketball and that’s exactly how it worked.
“I was prepared to actually go to Pepperdine for a year, and then go on my mission. Some things happened and I decided not to go to college right away. It was perfect because that was the year I needed surgery on my ankle, and had I gone to University I would have wasted a year of eligibility. I was fortunate enough to come in contact with Arizona State and some other great schools. It paid off a ton.”
Bachynski’s mission routine started with a 6:30 am wake up, followed by exercise, shower and breakfast. He and his fellow missionaries had to be ready by 8:00 am for scripture studies, and in Bachynski’s case also Spanish lessons. After lunch he would participate in various church activities, as well as partaking in community service projects with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity.
Bachynski’s physical activity during his mission was obviously very limited, and his opportunities to play basketball were few and far in between. “Push-ups and pull-ups,” Bachynski described the bulk of his workouts. “I grew an absolute love for basketball. I was only able to play maybe once a week and I guess you don’t know how much you love something until it’s gone, right?
“I didn’t know how much I loved basketball until I had to live without it.”
Ask any coach, or a person of the Mormon faith, and they will tell you that a prospect being able to go through the recruiting process while still serving on his mission is unheard of. Therefore, it is something that the center has never taken for granted and will always be grateful to his Mission President for allowing it.
“I really don’t think any other Mission President would have done that,” Bachynski acknowledged. “I’m very fortunate for all the support that he and my family have given to me. I had no idea that I would be talking to schools like Arizona State, Connecticut, UNLV, BYU, and California. Talking to those schools while I was on a mission was a great experience.
Bachynski played in the Canada Classic (which is equivalent to the U.S. McDonald’s High School All-Star game) right before his mission began. His parents obtained tape of that game, and through mutual friends distributed it to Arizona State and other universities.
“When the time came my parents brought it up to President Hale (the Mission President) and he was all for it,” Bachynski said. “I knew that if I could go somewhere right after my mission that would be perfect. I love playing basketball and I wanted to play right when I got home.”
Due to the demands of his mission, Bachynski was able to meet only once face-to-face with the coaches recruiting him. On a mid-September day he entertained coaches from Connecticut, Oregon State, BYU and San Diego along with Arizona State. Naturally, the Sun Devil staff which included Head Coach Herb Sendek and Associate Head Coach Dedrique Taylor left a stronger impression than any other coaching staff who visited the center that day.
“Up until then my parents were always my eyes and ears,” Bachynski commented. “They went and visited a few campuses, talked to the coaches on the phone, took pictures and described the schools to me. They were so supportive and I am so grateful for them.
“I got to see a lot of coaches that day and it was amazing to see how prepared Coach Sendek was compared to the other coaches. He knew his stuff and he presented it very well. He was very prepared and just had the whole package. He presented for two and half hours, it was information-packed and I was gripping onto very word he said which wasn’t the case with the other coaches.
“They had a vision for me. They showed me tape of some of their players and said ‘this is how you will fit in.’ They tailored everything to me and showed me what I could do in their system which is amazing.”
The personal relationship, which had to be established based on only one encounter, was stronger than anyone could have imagined.
“Meeting the (ASU) coaches didn’t feel like a business meeting like it did with the other coaches,” Bachynski explained. “It was friends talking to friends which I really liked. When I talked to Coach Sendek on the phone yesterday, it just re-assured me that I made the right decision. I could feel how excited he is for me to get there and that was very nice.”
Even though Bachynski made his verbal commitment several days after the visit from Sendek and Taylor, he knew on that mid-September day that he was going to be a Sun Devil.
“It was like a weight lifted off of my shoulders,” Bachynski said of his pledge. “In the mission you obviously have to focus on a lot of different things and not basketball. I had to make myself focus on basketball. It was hard, but it was definitely worth it.”
With the limited contact he had with ASU coaches, Bachynski naturally relied on his parents’ opinion and they gave the maroon and gold a ringing endorsement after their Tempe visit.
“They said it was just unreal how much Coach Sendek had to offer,” Bachynski remarked. “They spent over eight hours on campus and it was full of information because the coaches were so prepared.”
When Bachynski arrives at ASU in the first week of June, it will be the first time he would have ever set foot in Tempe, adding just another interesting footnote to what has already been an incredible and unique recruiting process.
Aside from summer school, Bachynski knows that he will have to be diligent in the school’s strength and conditioning program to physically prepare for the upcoming season.
“That’s my biggest challenge – getting back in shape,” Bachynski said. “I still have my same fundamentals, my shot is still pretty good and I’m pretty quick. I gained 40 pounds on my mission which was easy. I served with a lot of Spanish people and they love to eat (laughs). Lots of rice and beans. I probably want to add some more weight though.”
The expectations for Bachynski’s ability to contribute in his freshman season, after a two-year basketball layoff, may be tempered by some. Nonetheless, the center doesn’t expect anyone to be lenient concerning his prospects in the upcoming season.
“I don’t think they should have fewer expectations for me than they do anyone else,” Bachynski said. “They shouldn’t give me any handicap. I’m expecting them to push me just as hard as they will push anyone else.
“I think the sky is the limit as long as I work hard.”