John Macy can recall sitting in the stands at Loyola Marymount last spring and liking what he saw of Maurice Pullum--almost too much.
Macy, the basketball coach at UC Riverside, had been recruiting the Ventura College guard long before the Pirates advanced to the state junior college championship tournament, but he was in the stands to take another look.
What he saw was Pullum making 23 of 31 three-point attempts over three games in leading Ventura to the state championship. All Macy could do was hope that his prize find hadn't shot himself into a Division I scholarship offer.
"He went off all tournament," Macy said. But Riverside was successful at carting him off anyway.
Pullum is now in the Highlanders' starting lineup and former Ventura teammate Bill Turner has joined him. Together, they have sparked Riverside to victories in its first 10 games this season.
Pullum leads the Highlanders in scoring, averaging 16.2 points a game, and he continues to be deadly from three-point range. He has made 36 of 62 long-distance attempts and is shooting better from outside the three-point line (58%) than inside it (43%).
Pullum's outside threat is important to Riverside because the Highlanders don't have a true center.
"We went to the state tournament looking to replace the two big men we were losing and to find a shooter," Macy said. "We didn't get a center, but we certainly found our shooter."
Turner (6-5) played out of position last season for Ventura and is doing it again for Riverside.
"He had to play power forward for us, but really he's a small forward," Ventura Coach Phil Matthews said. "But Bill is the ultimate team player. He does whatever a coach wants him to do."
Turner is averaging 10.7 points a game and is second on the team in rebounding at 5.2.
Macy had recruited Pullum all along but was persuaded to offer Turner--an Oxnard High graduate--a scholarship after watching him in the state tournament.
"He played well and Coach Matthews said he would only get better," Macy said. "And he has."
Guard Steve Banales, another Ventura transfer, is redshirting this season.
Pullum and Turner are only two of four players new to Riverside's starting lineup.
The Highlanders got off to a fast start last year but faltered near the end of the season and were quickly eliminated in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. postseason tournament.
Macy is hopeful that an influx of players accustomed to winning will help his team stay consistent this season.
Pullum and Turner played for the state's JC champion and guard Chris Jackson played on a Rancho Santiago team that reached the semifinals. Jackson also played on Mater Dei High teams that went 99-2 during his tenure.