With his college basketball days winding down, Temple's Jaylen Bond says the urgency that most seniors feel, especially in March, has provided ample motivation.
Tenth-seeded Temple (21-11) opens NCAA play Friday against No. 7 Iowa (21-10) in a South Regional game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Bond enters the matchup playing some of his best basketball in a college career that began at Texas, where he spent two seasons before transferring to Temple.
A 6-foot-8, 240-pound forward who frequently has to compete against taller frontcourt opponents, Bond is averaging 10.2 points and 8.3 rebounds a game.
He was named to the American Athletic Conference all-tournament team after averaging 17 points and nine rebounds in the Owls' two games. Even in Temple's disappointing 77-62 semifinal loss to Connecticut on Saturday, Bond was a major presence with 17 points and 10 rebounds. That was his 10th double-double of the season.
In his last four games, he is averaging 14.8 points and 11 rebounds and has made 27 of 45 shots from the field.
"There is certainly a little more urgency," Bond said.
After redshirting in 2013-14 following his transfer from Texas, Bond, who starred at Plymouth Whitemarsh, averaged 7.6 points and led the AAC in rebounding with 7.9 a game last season.
His statistics are better this season, but there have been many games when he has been plagued by foul trouble. In the four games that preceded the last four, he averaged 22.25 minutes. During the last four games, he averaged 32.25 minutes.
"Being in foul trouble has hurt me," he said. "I have been smarter about it lately."
Bond is a quiet leader, highly respected by his teammates. He is the first solo Temple captain in coach Fran Dunphy's 10 seasons with the Owls.
"I take that role very seriously and try to be the best person every day for my teammates," Bond said.
When he has been out of games because of foul trouble, it has hurt Temple the most on the defensive end. His physical strength allows him to hold his ground against taller opponents, always making them work hard just to get the ball.
When he leaves the game, opponents have frequently kicked the ball inside, taking full advantage of his absence.
"He just plays hard and does whatever he has to do and does the dirty work for us, which is so important," said sophomore forward Obi Enechionyia. "He does whatever he has to do to win."
Dunphy pointed out that Bond's greatest contribution to the team shows up most in the win column. "In his two years we have won a lot of games," Dunphy said.
The Owls are 47-22 in that span and last year they were the first team left out of the NCAA tournament, a devastating blow to Bond and his teammates. "That really hurt," he said.
The Owls instead went to the NIT, where they advanced to the semifinals before losing a 60-57 decision to Miami at Madison Square Garden.
This year after the AAC semifinal loss to UConn, Bond and his teammates had 24 hours of anxiety, wondering if they would experience a second straight year of misery on Selection Sunday.
"I couldn't really sleep after Saturday's game," he said. "Once they called our name, it was such a relief."
Bond has earned his degree in communications and indicated he would like to pursue a professional basketball career, but he says he will look into that when his college career ends.
That could happen any game now, but Bond, with his late-season surge, is doing his best to extend his stay.