New England’s Madness
Friday officially marks the beginning of the college basketball season and whether local programs are jumping right into practice or celebrating with Midnight Madness, this is a huge recruiting weekend in New England and beyond.
Ed Cooley and his staff at Providence College made a push to fill the gym with recruits for Late Night Madness, held in the newly renovated Mullaney Gym. ESPN 100 swingman Brandon Austin will join Rodney Bullock, who pledged to the Friars earlier this month. Brewster Academy guard Ron Patterson will also be on campus along with local young products including Aaron Falzon, Josh Sharma, and Jarred Reuter.
First year UConn head coach Kevin Ollie will lead his team to the traditional First Night celebration in conjunction with Geno Auriemma and the Lady Huskies. Platinum recording artist Bobby V (previously known as Bobby Valentino) will be the featured guest but 2015 swingman Bennie Boatwright will take up most of Ollie’s attention while in town for his unofficial visit.
Boston College won’t be hosting any Midnight Madness type activities, and instead will be jumping right into practice, but that doesn’t mean this weekend will be any less important from a recruiting standpoint as Massanutten Military Academy swingman Garland Owens, a product of the Mid-Atlantic Select AAU program, will be on campus for his official visit.
In Amherst, UMass enters this season with a lot of optimism after returning the vast majority of the team that made an exciting run in the Atlantic 10 Tournament a year ago. Like Boston College, Derek Kellogg’s crew will be going right to work, while still playing host to Demetrius Dyson, a six-foot-four guard from the greater Memphis area.
Elsewhere in the Atlantic 10, the Danny Hurley area officially gets underway at the University of Rhode Island where Rhody Madness will host Kendall Pollard, a six-foot-four swingman from Simeon High School in Chicago, along with St. Andrew’s forward Bonzie Colson Jr. and potentially Worcester Academy big man Matt Cimino.
Harvard will wait until Saturday for their Crimson Madness celebration, which will precede the school’s home football game against Bucknell. NMH post-grad Zena Edosomwan will check out his future home unofficially along with his prep teammate Josh Sharma while Matt Howard, a six-foot-four shooting guard from South Carolina, will be on campus officially.
Elsewhere in the Ivy League Yale, Brown, and Dartmouth will be going right to work by skipping any midnight festivities. Dartmouth will have Greg Dotson, a six-foot-four swingman from Germantown Academy and Team Philly, on campus for the weekend.
New England's lone CAA program, Northeastern, is hosting a Midnight Madness style celebration tonight as well but expects to have more recruits on campus for their season opener on November 9th.
In the MAAC, this is a big weekend for Fairfield as head coach Sydney Johnson and his staff play host to Lee Academy big man Mohamed Bah for his third official visit of the fall. Bah will be on hand for Red Sea Madness where he will be joined by 2014 forward Kevin Degnan from Pearl River High School in New York and local tandem of Roy Kane Jr. and Steve Enoch from Norwalk High School.
It is going to be an equally big weekend for Quinnipiac as they host Salisbury forward Samuel Dingba for his official visit. Joining Dingba at Bobcats Madness on Friday night are St. Joseph’s 2014 swingman Quincey McKnight, 2014 forward Alex Thomas from Hawthorne Christian in New Jersey, 2014 NMH big man Sem Kroon, and senior big man Chase Daniels from Hillhouse.
Elsewhere in the Northeast Conference, Sacred Heart and Central Connecticut were expected to kick off the season with a full practice on Friday while Bryant was doing the same after beating the rest of the country to the punch and hosting their Midnight Madness celebration a night earlier on Thursday.
In the America East, the University of Hartford men’s and women’s teams were combining for their annual Midnight Mania on Friday, and Master’s senior guard Donte Gittens was expected to be in attendance. The University of Maine was hosting a Midnight Madness celebration of their own, while Vermont’s celebration comes next weekend for Catamount Tip-Off. New Hampshire had no celebration on tap but two important recruits on campus nonetheless in New Hampton juniors and in-state products Mike Leblanc and Mike Auger.
Boston University was also jumping straight into practice on Friday night as was their future Patriot League counterpart Holy Cross.
Some of New England’s top prospects are also expecting to be taking visits outside the region’s borders. Wayne Selden will be taking an official visit to Kansas while Goodluck Okonoboh is expected to be at Syracuse unofficially. South Kent’s Kamall Richards will be at Xavier and the Vermont Academy tandem of Dimitri Floras and Richard Williams will both be at Manhattan.