Agel Gets First Commitment at Brown | Monday, August 4th, 2008

Agel Gets First Commitment at Brown

Jesse Agel got his man.  The first year Brown head coach wasn’t even recruiting Tucker Halpern when the month of July started, but after watching his impressive performance at the Hoop Mountain Academic All-American Camp, Agel and assistant coach T.J. Sorrentine quickly made the skilled forward one of their top priorities.  For the rest of the month the duo recruited Halpern as hard as they possibly could.  Whenever he stepped foot on the floor, no matter where it was, one of them was there. 

“It really came out of nowhere,” Halpern said of his quick commitment to Brown.  “Some schools had been recruiting me for three years.  Brown has been recruiting me for three weeks.  But it is such a great fit that I knew this was the right place for me.” 

Halpern was so taken by Agel and Sorrentine that he was on the school’s Providence campus first thing in the morning on August 1st, the first day student athletes were permitted to visit any schools. 

“That was the first possible time I could be there,” Halpern said.  “I got there at 9am, spent the day with them, and committed before I left.”

Halpern’s recruitment has been a long and windy road.  He was one of the region’s fastest rising prospects last year when his play on the New England Select AAU squad warranted attention from high major programs like Michigan, Northwestern, and Georgetown.  But coming into this summer he had some questions to answer.  He hadn’t dominated his high school season like a player being recruited at the highest levels should and struggled noticeably at times during the April live period. 

But give Halpern credit.  He came into the month of July knowing his skeptics were talking, and showed himself to be up to the challenge of proving them wrong. 

“I had two main objectives coming into the summer: rebounding the ball and running the floor.  Those were two things that I knew I had been criticized for in the past and two areas that I knew I could improve in,” he said.  “When I started to do a better job in those areas, I think I became a different player, a better player, because I started playing the game inside-out.” 

Clearly, Halpern showed a more diverse game this summer than he had in the past, as he wasn’t purely a spot up three-point shooter, but also someone who could bring smaller defenders to the block, pass well within the offense, and put the ball on the floor with increased effectiveness. 

But perhaps even more importantly, as he took his game inside more, he had the opportunity to show coaches the toughness and physicality that they had been waiting for.  All of a sudden, it became the norm to see the 6’7” forward diving on the floor for loose balls or banging down low for rebounds.  Combine that with his good size for the wing, sweet shooting stroke, and sound overall skill set and Halpern showed himself to be a well rounded player this summer. 

His last tournament of the summer was perhaps his best as he shined with the Expressions Elite program at the AAU Super Showcase in Orlando.  After that, it was a pretty safe bet that the phone was going to be ringing non-stop on August 1st.  But those coaches never got the chance as Halpern had committed to Brown before the day was over. 

So with his recruitment presumably about to heat back up, what caused the skill forward to pull the trigger so early on a school that had only begun to recruit him three weeks earlier? 

“The coaches there are really great.  Agel and Sorrentine are going to do the same thing they did at Vermont,” Halpern said referring to UVM’s three consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament when Sorrentine was a star player and Agel the lead assistant coach. 

But his belief in the coaching staff wasn’t the only factor.  Finding a top academic school was non-negotiable, and that limited many of his options as he wouldn’t consider anything but the best academically, regardless of the level of their basketball. 

“After that [narrowing his list to only top academic schools], it became purely a basketball decision,” he said.  “I can play here for four years, I have a lot of confidence that the coaches can help me maximize my potential on the floor, and their style of play was key for the way I like to play the game.  I will be able to play three different positions in their system.”

“It all just fits,” he said.  “I’m really excited.” 

So are Agel and Sorrentine…it turns out they are still a pretty effective team.