Steve Masiello

6-7 forward Zane Waterman becomes Manhattan’s fourth commitment

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Despite last season’s injury-riddled 14-18 campaign, things are looking up for the Manhattan basketball program. Having to augment their style of play due to those significant personnel losses (the biggest one being leading scorer George Beamon), Steve Masiello’s Jaspers still managed to reach the title game of the MAAC tournament.

Now healthy, expectations are high for Manhattan as they (along with rival Iona) are seen as contenders for the MAAC title in 2013-14. That optimism has spread to the recruiting trail as well, as Manhattan entered Sunday with three verbal commitments in the 2014 class. That number has moved to four, as according to multiple outlets 6-7 forward Zane Waterman verbally committed to attend Manhattan on Sunday.

Waterman took an official visit to Manhattan over the weekend, and according to Bret Stretlow of the Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer Waterman also spent some time with Brooklyn Nets rookie Mason Plumlee while in the Big Apple. Waterman joins guard Samson Usilo and forwards Calvin Crawford and Samson Akilo in Manhattan’s 2014 recruiting haul.

As a junior at Fayetteville Academy, Waterman averaged 25.9 points and 11.7 rebounds per game on a team that finished the 2012-13 season with an 18-9 record. He’ll join a deep front court in 2014, as the Jaspers lose just one member of their rotation at the conclusion of the 2013-14 campaign. But to be fair that one departure is a major piece, as Rhamel Brown established himself as the MAAC’s best defensive player (and an underrated commodity nationally, as well).

Manhattan adds Maryland transfer Ashton Pankey to the rotation this season, along with 6-9 freshman Carlton Allen. And at small forward the Jaspers have plenty of experience, with juniors Emmy Andujar and Donovan Cates and sophomore Shane Richards all having eligibility remaining after this season.

Manhattan made their last NCAA tournament appearance in 2004, when they knocked off Florida and then fell to Wake Forest by four with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line. Given the work Masiello and his staff have done both on the floor and on the recruiting trail, that streak could come to an end in the near future provided the Jaspers remain healthy.

PHOTO: Ohio State’s new LeBron James shoe display

during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium on January 12, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.
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Ohio State has capitalized on its close relationship with NBA superstar LeBron James over the years and now has a new shoe display that should come in handy during recruiting.

The Buckeyes put out a tweet late this week with the display, calling themselves “THE LeBron school.” While this is something small, recruits like that the Buckeyes are tied into the best player in the world and it’s cool to them that Ohio State gets some exclusive gear.

Rutgers hoping new duo can bring a spark

of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during their Big Ten conference game at Rutgers Athletic Center on February 8, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
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Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.

With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.

“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”

Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.

While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.