New Englands Weekend Visitors
The college basketball season is officially underway, at least the practice season that is, and Friday’s kick-off meant Midnight Madness at a variety of schools throughout the country.
New England was well represented in those festivities as UConn, Providence, Rhode Island, and others all held Midnight Madness celebrations on Friday night.
Some teams opted to go a day later and UMass and Harvard were among the programs that chose to celebrate mid-day on Saturday.
Even programs who skipped any type of opening festivities altogether, and instead went right into practice, still utilized this weekend to host prospects, sometimes officially and sometimes unofficially.
At UConn, things started early on Friday night with Huskies First Night. Freshmen Andre Drummond and Ryan Boatright stole the show in the dunk contest while legends like Ray Allen, Kemba Walker, and Hasheem Thabeet looked on as judges. All of this took place while a long list of prospects sat front and center in the stands, led by Omar Calhoun, who is already committed in 2012. Fellow senior Amile Jefferson, one of the purest scorers in the country, was also on campus for his official visit. Underclassmen checking in on the festivities included the Hotchkiss tandem of Austin Colbert and Kyle Washington, the New Hampton duo of Noah Vonleh and Jeremy Miller, along with Kuran Iverson, Kahari Beaufort, Jarred Reuter, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Chris Baldwin, and others.
An hour later, the Ed Cooley era officially began at Providence’s Late Night Madness as 3,000 fans packed their way into Alumni Hall. Bryce Cotton scored his second consecutive dunk contest championship while alums like Ryan Gomes, Marshon Brooks, and Ernie DiGregorio served as judges. There were plenty of recruits in the house to check out the festivities including all three members of the Friars heralded 2012 class, Ricardo Ledo, Kris Dunn, and Josh Furtune, the sharp-shooting swingman from Virginia. Also on campus were underclassmen like Greg Senat, Adrian Oliveira, Matt Cimino, Rene Castro, and the entire Worcester Academy team. Junior College All-American Orlando Sanchez was also on campus and has P.C. near the top of his list.
The University of Rhode Island also got underway on Friday with Rhody Madness as the Rams’ passionate fan base filled the Ryan Center. From a recruiting perspective, this event was much more about quality than quantity. Only two recruits were on campus, but one was a potential program changer. Jordan Hare returned to the campus for the second time. The six-foot-nine power forward has URI near the top of his list that also includes the likes of Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan State, and others. Also on campus was Darien Clark, a six-foot-six forward from Oak Hill Academy.
UMass and Harvard headlined the Saturday celebrations. Vermont Academy point guard Trey Davis was in Amherest this weekend, taking in the "Bash at Southwest Beach" while also checking out practice after having committed to the Minutemen earlier this summer. Harvard held their first ever Crimson Madness, hosting 2013 Isaiah Watkins from St. Benedicts, 2012 pledge Evan Cummins, and his NMH teammates Anthony Dallier and Pete Miller.
After taking in the action at Harvard, Dallier and Miller made the short trip to Boston College for the rest of the weekend. The Eagles opted to skip the Madness and get right to work, but that didn’t stop it from still being a big recruiting weekend. In addition to the NMH duo, B.C. also hosted New Hampton point guard Olivier Hanlan on his official visit.
Here’s a rundown of some of the weekend’s other visitors:
• Tevin Falzon took in Sacred Heart’s Midnight Madness on Friday night as part of his official visit to the Northeast Conference school.
• Maine had NMH big man Lucas Van Nes on campus this weekend for an official visit of his own. The Black Bears offered last week according to NMH head coach John Carroll.
• Hartford held their Midnight Madness on Friday night. The Hawks have hosted a variety of local Connecticut products in recent weeks with Nate Howard, Cane Broome, Billy McDonald, and Kahari Beaufort all on campus.